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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

A Dog's Life, or, How to Train Your Owner.

Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 7:02 PM

Well, the dog days of summer are here, and one thing's for certain. My dog would just as soon they weren't; and the water bowl had better have ice in it.

An aging Labrador/Newfoundland mix, Rosco's not as spry as he used to be, and the heat quickly saps his energy. He's a good dog, but the old guy's gotten set in his ways.

When Rosco was a puppy, I was a stay-at-home mom (which will give many of you an idea of just how old he his) and Tom and I both spent a lot of time training him. At least, at the time, we thought we were training him. But ya know what? I'm pretty sure he was actually training us.

He did it through years of repetition and positive reinforcement -- he wags his tail, keeps us company, and loves us back.

And we've learned plenty of tricks over the years.

Rosco twirling in circles next to Tom means he'd like to be taken to the local convenience store, where he'll be expecting a treat. I remember one such trip when he rode in the car (he usually rides in the back of the pickup, but for some reason I can't recall he was in the car instead) and Tom dallied too long in the store. Rosco climbed into the driver's seat and put his feet on the steering wheel and honked the horn. Coincidence? I think not.

Every morning, regardless of who else is already up and about. he stands next to the bed and makes increasingly loud noises until I get up and let him out. Most of the time, no one else can let him out. He won't go. Roughly two minutes later, he'll be back at the front door expecting to come back in, although he'll stay out if one of us is coming out with him for a walk or to play.

Each night when I get home, I am expected to give him a treat, fill his water bowl, then let him out the back door. One day I neglected to put ice in the water -- something he's become accustomed to. Rosco just stared and didn't drink a drop until the desired ice cubes were added.

It's too bad Rosco can't write. He could probably make a mint with an instructional book for dogs -- "How to Train your Owner"



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Lynn Wade
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Exploring the obvious and the not so obvious in search of the oh, so elusive "something to do' that's all around us.
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