Dog Training

03FF4508-3450-4F62-A4A1-53B29F66B001I’ve been living with my human family for over three years now, and I have to say that things are going pretty well.  I’m still not allowed up on the furniture (why my parents are around to see it) and they still insist on feeding me dry dog kibble when all I really want is a plate of the same food they’re eating, but overall, I’ve got them pretty well trained. The trick with humans, I’ve discovered, is to let them think they’re training you, when in reality, you’re training them.

Take walks, for instance.  Like all dogs, I love a good walk. Sauntering around the neighborhood with my human in tow is great fun, and I especially like stopping to sniff all the enticing odors along the way.  The first few times Mom took me for a walk, she insisted on keeping up a brisk pace, and seemed irritated when I’d stop to sniff every few feet.  She didn’t understand that investigating all the scents we encounter is how I learn what’s going on in our neighborhood.  How am I supposed to know that the beagle up the street passed stopped by this very same bush if I’m not allowed to smell it thoroughly?  And don’t get me started on all the interesting scents coming from the storm sewer….the stories I could tell!

So I had to teach Mom the importance of letting me stop and sniff on our walks.  It took quite a while, with me pointedly ignoring her tugging on the leash and repeated cries of, “Come on!” before she figured it out.  She still doesn’t let me stop and sniff every single scent, but now she waits patiently when I discover something particularly intriguing, which happens a couple of times per outing.  I heard her bragging to Dad about how she’s taught me to mostly keep moving, and of course I let her believe it.  But the truth is, I’ve taught her to let me stop and sniff.

And while my parents still fill my supper dish with kibble, I’ve taught them to also share their (far superior, in my opinion) food with me.  Again, it took time and lots of patience on my part, but now they both know that whenever they eat something, they have to save a bite of it for me.  And since both of them are fond of their food, I get quite a few “bites” of food every day.  My nickname is Bubbles (due to my bubbly personality) and they actually refer to the tidbits they give me as the “Bubble tax.”  I don’t care what they call it, as long as they pay it.

I’m not sharing this to brag on my success, even though I’ve done a pretty good job of training my parents.  I’m sharing it to give hope to all the other dogs who have just joined their human family and might be a feeling a little frustrated by how slow their new parents are on the uptake.  I want them to know that it takes time and patience to train your humans, but if you stick with it, the rewards are worth it.  Trust me on this…..

Love, Finn

Up and Down

If I ever had any doubts about the truth of the saying, “Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs,” the events of the past couple of weeks have put them to rest.  Approximately four weeks ago, I was sitting in my favorite restaurant, celebrating an early birthday dinner with my immediate family.  I distinctly remember sitting with my oldest two grandchildren on my lap, looking over at the baby and thinking, “I am so blessed.”

IMG_1923The reason we were celebrating my birthday early was that my husband and I were going to be on Sanibel Island for my actual birthday, and Florida’s Sanibel Island is one of my very favorite places.  Even better, the trip was all I had hoped it would be:  we had great weather, were joined for a few days by good friends, found some fun shells and even had the chance to get up close and personal with manatees.  It was, honestly, the highlight of my year so far.

But what goes up must come down, as we all know.  Early last week, I started to feel a bit sick.  I figured it was my usual allergic reaction to the green tree pollen that’s coating everything here, but I took a Covid test and got a negative result.  I stayed home even so, resting and drinking lots of water.  After a couple of days I felt much better, but decided to take another Covid test before I ventured out in public, just to be sure.  And it was positive.

I know I still have lots to be thankful for.  My symptoms were extremely mild, and my husband was out of town on business while I got sick, and he tested negative when he returned.  Unfortunately, the difference in our Covid status means we can’t share living space, so I’m upstairs in the primary bedroom of our story-and-a-half house while my husband is staying downstairs and sleeping in the guest room.  And as nice as our primary suite is, it was designed for sleeping, not living in 24/7.  Especially not in the heat we’ve been enduring this past week, because our upstairs depends on the additional cooling provided by the window AC unit my husband would install if he were allowed to be in the same space as me.

Sometimes as I’m sitting on my bed, watching yet another HGTV rerun or reading yet another book and trying not to sweat on the pages, I can’t help but feel just a little bit sorry for myself.  Boredom and loneliness aren’t fun companions.  It’s a little off-putting when I don my N95 mask and go downstairs to replenish my ice water, and my husband gives me a horrified look and quickly darts into another room.  He’s being sensible, I know, but it still takes getting used to.  And it didn’t help when, safely back upstairs, the strap broke as I was removing the mask, snapping me sharply just below the left eye.  You know you’re in an unlucky phase when you get attacked by your face mask.

But I know that this, too, shall pass.  My husband continues to test negative, and every day brings me closer to the end of my isolation period.  I know the time will come when all I remember about this time is how grateful I am that it wasn’t much, much worse.  And meanwhile, I’ll just sit tight and dream about the next time I get to visit Sanibel…….