Beans claims the dining table.

Early January was an exciting time for me because our six-month old puppy, Beans, would soon be heading off for a month of training. My kids may disagree but save for when she was sleeping, Beans’ cuteness had waned precipitously. If she wasn’t stealing food from the counter or barking at the wind, she was scratching up doors and annoying the heck out of our older dog. Beyond requiring constant attention, it was like our once adorable pup was holding us hostage. Without intervention, she could have been selling our stuff on eBay for Milk-Bone money by Groundhog Day.

IWAG’s training site in Temple, GA is about an hour away via I-20 west. Each Saturday we visit Beans and learn the new commands and techniques. In normal years, our winter Saturdays revolve around youth basketball. We’d be at one gym in the morning and another in the afternoon and I liked how it structured the entire day. I don’t mind a laissez-faire Sunday but the dad in me insists that Saturdays have a purpose and for this weird winter, our primary Saturday purpose has been the taming of the Beans.

I enjoy the family drives out there even though we bicker over what will play on the radio. Elliott has matured and shows a willingness to at least listen to the stations Kristen and I like. Margo remains immovable from her Hits 1. Left unchallenged, we’d hear the same handful of pop songs three times each in two hours of driving time. So, we make deals. Like, if we stop for Fro-Yo right after the session, I get to play my music for the ride back and that’s money well spent.

I learn some things from Margo and Hits 1 though. When a particularly heartbreaking song called “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo came on, Margo explained all about the Teenage Celebrity Love triangle. It seems Olivia and  former fellow Disney star Sabrina Carpenter both dated a boy named Josh. I’m not sure why Josh is a celebrity, he may also be Disney famous or maybe he did a collab with Bieber or something but apparently songs were written from each viewpoint, so this is juicy stuff.  By the way, my kids love when I drop in the term “collab.”

Olivia was on the show “Bizaardvark” when she was younger, which I used to enjoy with Margo. As far as kids shows go, this one was entertaining. But Sabrina was on the show “Girl Meets World” and I need to reach all the way back to “Power Rangers” to find a show that made my skin crawl more than this one. Feel free to do your own research into the situation but please know that we are all solidly Team Olivia.

Beans’ trainer Darien says something each week that is so poignantly true of our dog that I know she is an expert at her craft. Session 1: “Beans is smart. I mean, she’s not too smart but she’s umm…clever.” Session 2: “Beans really loves treats. She’s very treat-motivated.” Session 3: “Beans is a good girl. I mean, she’s pretty good. She can sometimes be…what’s the word I’m looking for… bratty? Ya know?” We do know that. We really do. And session 4 she offered: “Beans has come a long way. She’s stubborn, though. Like sometimes I feel like maybe she’s trying to get one over on me?” Exactly.

So, like a 5th year senior, Beans will be staying at the farm with Darien for an extra week. I’m sure she’s the Big Dog on Campus by now, probably hazing the newbies, thinking about pursuing a graduate degree. She seems to love it and progress really has been made. While I look forward to having her back at the house, I can wait. My kids may write this song differently but with a better-behaved Beans, the Saturdays ahead are wide open.

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at