Monday, December 20, 2010

On the Untrained Dog...

Mal and I were discussing dogs and their training (or, in some cases, their lack thereof) on the phone this evening. I was speaking of Dixie's higher points: What a wonderful pet she is; how she loves me and is semi-loyal to me, if I am holding treats; how she ...

Mal broke in at this point and stated that Dixie smells and I should wash her more often.

Whatever. My dog is odiferous at best and heinously stenchy at worst. (You will be happy to know that she only gets to sleep in bed with me the day that she has a bath with Pantene shampoo and conditioner.) I can accept her faults.

We then discussed the higher points of Dixie's training.

And by that I meant that we discussed the fact that my dog does nothing on command and will bite people who try to get her off the couch.

But wait! Dixie can sit! She can sit! I swear, if you ask her to, Dixie will sit!

To which Mal countered: But will she sit if you are not holding food in your hand?

Well then. Never mind.

But Dixie comes! She comes when she's called, and that, my friend, is worth its weight in gold.

Mal then stated that she has witnessed, on several occasions, Dixie responding to the 'come' command. She has witnessed, many times, myself standing on the porch hollering at my dog to get over here! And eventually, Dixie will wearily make her way to me.

As pointed out by Mal, this is probably because she has a headache from all the yelling and has given up on a peaceful afternoon jaunt.

But wait! Dixie does come on command if you use a horn!

A horn?

Yes. My family owns a horn. Quite literally, it is made from the horn of a longhorn steer. A longhorn steer horn that has a hole drilled in it such that you can blow into it like a trumpet.

And Mal says: You blow into a longhorn steer horn like a trumpet?

And I say: Yes! And Dixie will come to that!

So you have to carry a horn with you everywhere you go?

No! You don't have to carry a horn with you! Because when you're hunting, you carry a gun! And when you're desperate for your dog to come back to you in the bush, you unload your gun, remove the barrel, and blow into it much like you would blow into a longhorn steer horn. Or a trumpet.

So picture, if you will, my entire family standing in the bush during the first two weeks of November. We are cold, anxious to go home, and awaiting a beagle who doesn't often respond to voice. In desperation, we all begin blowing into the barrels of our guns, and magically, my beagle appears.

That, my friend, is training.

But Mal feels that if you have to carry a gun with you to get your dog to come on command, this is not entirely practical.

Fine. I'll grant you that. Impractical? Surely.

The one thing Dixie is full trained on? The one thing she understands the most? Let me share with you:

If Dixie sees you, in any room in the house, at any point in time, picking up a blanket?

She knows to run to the couch and cuddle into the pillows.

Untrained, indeed. My dog knows how to act and when. Just pick up a blanket and you'll see.



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