In a little less than two months, I will be six years old. I think you can safely call me a middle-aged Golden Retriever now. When my human mommy looks into my eyes, she notices how white my lashes have gotten. When she kisses my ever-lightening nose, she sees how white my muzzle is. And as we enjoy our daily walks, she can’t help but look at the white hairs that are appearing along the ridge of my back. Time is passing far too quickly. I’ve done a lot in my five-plus years, but there’s still something big that I have yet to accomplish.
I have yet to learn a trick. That’s right, friends. I don’t know the first trick. Can’t shake. Can’t roll over. Can’t spin. Can’t do a high five. I can speak, but that’s usually when no one wants me to speak. You’ve heard of a One Trick Pony? Well, I’m a No Trick Pony.
Oh, I know all of my obedience commands. I ought to; I’ve been going to school since I was six months old. But when it comes to tricks, I’ve never shown any interest . . . as in no interest at all.
So my human mommy (in her infinite wisdom) has decided that I should attempt to learn six tricks by my sixth birthday. We have plenty of time to decide on which tricks to tackle and then to learn one per week leading up to the big day. Personally, I’d be happy just going out for a nice birthday dinner or enjoying a PetSmart shopping spree. But I have a feeling that I’m going to have to humor the human on this one.
What do you think, friends? Will Mommy be able to teach a middle-aged dog some new tricks?
And what tricks do you think I should learn?
I am a very obedient girl. I ought to be. I’ve been attending training classes since I was six months old . . . that’s more than four and a half years of school. I started with the beginner class, completed the intermediate class, and graduated from the advanced class. Then some of the humans in our group decided that they wanted to continue with training. To be honest with you, we dogs really had all the commands mastered, but I guess the humans decided that they could use a little more work. Anyway, I’ve been doing what my human mommy likes to call “post-graduate work” ever since.
Here’s a class picture from about two years ago. That’s me on the left with my classmates (from left to right) Lexi, Hazel, and Raven. Don’t we look like an obedient group? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. At the beginning of the class, our trainer teaches whatever new command we’re working on to all of the dogs. That takes about five minutes. Piece of cake. Then, for the next 55 minutes, our trainer works with the humans in hopes that they too can learn the command, which has led me to this conclusion: Humans tend to be slightly less obedient than dogs.
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Yesterday started out extremely hot and oppressively humid. Imagine being on the face of the sun. Now imagine being there wrapped in heavy, wet towels. That’s kind of what my morning walk felt like. Then in the late afternoon, the wind started to blow like crazy, the sky got very dark, and the rains came. My mommy could not have been happier. I know many of you have had too much rain lately, but not us. The garden needed a little watering by Mother Nature, and Mommy needed a little break from hose duty. It was time to find some fun activities for a rainy afternoon.
Mommy and I started the fun with our fourth session of obedience boot camp. I know what you’re thinking–obedience boot camp doesn’t sound fun at all–but I have to tell you that I am having a fabulous time and I’m progressing exceptionally well. Here I am doing Leave It. That’s Elephant, Parrot, and Lion and check out the pumpkin-and-blueberry-flavored treats on my feet. Pretty impressive, don’t you think? Leave It is one of my favorite commands. I hear it all the time on my walks.
After obedience boot camp, my mommy thought that we needed to do another rainy day activity. I thought that taking a nice, long nap sounded like the perfect rainy day fun; but Mommy seems to think that it’s important to stimulate my mind, so a nap was completely out of the question for the moment. Earlier in the day, she had read a blog post by Human Rescues Dog called “Dog Toys You Can Make Tonight.” One of the ideas was called Treats in a Bottle. You take an empty water or milk bottle (plastic, of course), put treats inside, and let your dog figure out how to get the treats out of the bottle. My mommy broke just a few of my favorite treats into little pieces and put them into an empty water bottle. As you can see, Mommy’s a little tight with the treats. She says it’s because she wants me to maintain my girlish figure. Whatever.
I cannot begin to tell you how much fun I had trying to get those treats out of that plastic water bottle. I rolled it around. I picked it up. I made funny inquisitive-puppy faces that I hadn’t made in a very long time. I even did an odd little puppy-like bark that even startled me. It was as if the Treats in a Bottle toy had shaved four years off of me.
And then the light bulb went off: If I raised the bottom and tipped the mouth of the bottle, those yummy treats would spill out. Brilliant! Thank you so much Human Rescues Dog for filling my rainy afternoon with fun, fun, fun!
I don’t know about you (well, I do have a pretty good idea), but I kind of let myself go during the long Independence Day weekend. I probably ate a few too many treats (admit it, you ate some things you shouldn’t have eaten, too) and I allowed my schedule to fly out the window (I’ll bet you slept a little late and snuck in a nap or two). That might explain why, on my first post-holiday walk Monday morning, my mommy reached this conclusion: I lacked discipline and focus, and it was time for a little obedience boot camp. Uh oh.
Boot camp started the minute we returned from our walk. I normally eat my breakfast just as soon as I wake up (after I come back inside from my first morning patrol of the backyard perimeter). During the long weekend, however, I decided that I far preferred brunch to breakfast. Well, when Mommy and I returned from my Monday morning walk, she gently guided me to my breakfast, kissed my head, and whispered these sweet words to me: “If you don’t eat your breakfast right now, Miss Harper Lee, I’m going to pick this bowl up and you won’t have anything to eat until dinner.” That’s when it was very clear to me that the drill sergeant had invaded my mommy’s body and we were in full boot camp mode.
I ate all of my breakfast immediately . . . every last drop . . . see?
Fortunately for me, my mommy had a few things to do during the day, so I managed to work in some nap time. It’s a good thing I did, because
the drill sergeant my mommy had plans for my afternoon.
We went outside and did Sit Stay with Distance, Distractions, and Duration. My mommy tried her very, very best to get me on this one, but somehow I managed to resist Pink Pig, Frisbee, Gator, Hedgehog, and a Boudreaux’s Bonz Chicken Gumbo treat . . . not to mention all of the interesting things that were happening in and around my yard.
Next we did Down Stay with Distance, Distractions, and Duration. Did you notice that my mommy somehow snuck in a little banana-flavored treat? Banana is one of my favorite things. My mommy is tricky, but I did it.
Then it was time for the big test: Come. Not just any Come, but Come Right to Me Right Now without Stopping to Look at or Pick Up Pink Pig, Frisbee, Gator, Hedgehog, the Chicken Gumbo treat, or the banana-flavored treat. Well, obviously I struggled a bit with this one . . .
. . . but I did it. Do you see that? It’s all still back there. As you might be able to tell from my tongue, it was very hot and very humid outside, and then it started to sprinkle just a bit, and that’s when my mommy stopped being a drill sergeant and said to me, “Miss Lee, it’s really miserable out here, and you’ve done very well. Let’s go inside where it’s cool and get some rest.” I cannot begin to tell you the relief I felt when I realized the drill sergeant was gone and Mommy was back . . . but I have a feeling that obedience boot camp will continue through this week.