Old Dogs Teaching New Tricks
My dogs and I have a great system worked out in terms of our roles in the household as well as our various responsibilities. Because my dogs are all seniors they’ve spent years perfecting their routines and they’ve trained me very well. Here’s our version of teamwork and their ability to teach an old human new tricks:
- Their jobs are to tip over the garbage can in the kitchen as well as the wastebaskets in the office and my job is to clean up the mess. When I talk to them about this behavior they insist that I don’t have enough to do and they’re just making sure I keep busy.
- When I’m out in the yard doing poop patrol they often follow me outside and just to be sure the activity is worthwhile they poop in the area I’ve just scooped because they want me to understand that they know why I’m there and that my job is necessary.
- When we’re walking on the beach they help me to remember their names, which they think is necessary because often I call them … ”Don’t Eat That, ” or “Leave It,” or “Put That Down.”
- When we’re riding in the truck they allow me to sit in the driver’s seat because they don’t drive, but they’re very careful to direct me to Starbucks and if I don’t come out with a treat bag in my hand they show off their best pouting faces and threaten to call Animal Control to complain about being neglected.
- Most of them sleep on the bed with me at night and they’re very generous about allowing me a few inches on the side of the bed. If I dare to take up too much room they remind me that I’m a guest on their bed.
- Cassie, our Wildlife Warden, is very vocal about warning us about the presence of monsters (like squirrels, deer, and bunnies) in the yard. She barks, I go out and call her inside, she goes out the other door, barks, I call her inside …. It’s a dance we do very well together and she’s always very proud of herself because she’s doing her job so well and she doesn’t understand why I complain about my job.
- My dogs are magicians when it’s time for baths and haircuts. They’re very good at the “Now you see me. Now you don’t.” trick when I even think about starting the bathing process. I don’t have to say anything out loud. They just know. They endure the whole ordeal pretty gracefully in a passive-aggressive sort of way, which means that I get wetter than they do and most of their hair is transferred to my clothes rather than the floor.
- They’re training me to be patient when waiting for them to respond to my call. When it’s time to leave the beach and I call them to the truck, I know there will be a certain amount of dawdling on the way because they want me to learn how to wait for them and to understand that they’ll come when they’re ready.
- Jack, our new dog, has discovered the toy basket and he’s teaching us to throw the toy and admire his fetching abilities. He’s particularly fond of squeaky toys and he runs around the house making unpleasant noises. When I remind him that he’s a senior and not a puppy he mutters something about age being just a number and he gives me the stink eye. We’re considering ear plugs and the other dogs are thinking about packing their bags.
My dogs think they’re doing me a favor by reminding me about my role in their lives. “It’s for your own good” is a cartoon bubble I see over their heads quite often. Could be, but why does the word “smug” come to mind when I see the expressions on their faces?
Next week: Plan Ahead