September 24, 2009

being goodYou Don’t Get the Dog You Want, You Get the Dog You Need

I am not a perfect fellow. Dog knows I’ve put some of the gray hairs on Gretchen’s head all by myself. I bark too much, I chase things I shouldn’t chase like cats, squirrels, and sometimes bicycles, and at times, I get possessive of my toys.

Face it, being good all the time is hard work and frankly, it’s just not in me to be good all the time.

That’s hard for Gretchen. She wanted a perfect dog, I think, and so I test her patience. I try to tell her that really my job is to help her develop her patience, to practice relaxation techniques in the most stressful moments, and to laugh a little more about the absurdities of life. Dog bless her, she’s trying and so am I.

Today, I was a good boy, so good in fact, I get to meet her students tomorrow. I’m excited. Gretchen says they are more excited. This will be a real test of her ability to stay calm in the middle of chaos, though I doubt it will be chaos. It will just be a lot of squealing and tail wagging. Oh, and treats. The students always give me a lot of treats!

I was good today because I played well with others. I got to play with Ollie, Quillette, and a surprise play time with Saber who as at the tennis courts this morning when we three arrived. Ollie and Saber really hit it off, while I played with Saber’s blue ball and Quillette barked a lot.

chasingSaber's ball

chasing againhappy Q

Oh yeah, and then Ollie stole the blue ball. It was a hot commodity and I was a good boy because I didn’t take it from him. I just stalked him with beady eyes!

excuse mestalking

The temptation to be a bad dog was great especially when Ollie taunted me with the blue ball.


Then Saber got the ball and I had to practice more patience.

my turnsaber's turn

Then Saber got distracted by watching my orange and blue ball bouncing high…Quillette got interested too and eventually ended up with the ball!

bouncing high

After our romp at the courts, Quillette and I had to go home to rest up. Nap time. I could have been a bad boy and been upset, but I wasn’t. I took the time to really rest while Gretchen went for her Thursday walk with Rosie. They walked through the park and then worked on her commands — sit, down, and shake. Rosie apparently doesn’t know the command shake and Gretchen had a hard time getting her to understand the concept. She’ll get it. Be patient.



Rosie really likes her treats, so it’s easy to get her to focus when Gretchen holds up the treat. It makes for sweet pictures of a sweet Rosie.

treat staresweet face

And my personal favorite — the reward!

yummyRosie and Gretchen walked passed the school and back to Rosie’s house where she raced up the stairs to receive more goodies. I’ve never met Rosie, but I can tell she can be a good dog like me though she may have challenges at time just like I do!

Still, she looks pretty cute to me!

Gretchen headed up to Bella’s house next and was greeted by an excited, tail-wagging girl. Bella really, really tries to be a good dog even more than I try and today was a Gold Star day for her! She heeled well, she listened to her commands, and only a few times did she lunge forward in excitement. As a reward, Bella got to visit with me! It was my reward too.


still rollingboxing

happy dancecharge

It’s hard to see in these photos, but Gretchen keeps Quillette in the house when Bella comes to play. Bella likes to charge new dogs (as you can see) and Quillette can be a grumpy old gal at times so generally, they don’t interact during her visits. See Quillette behind the screen door while Bella races by me on the porch?


But today, Bella was being such a good girl, Gretchen put her on a leash and they worked on having her be calm in our presence. She did really well! Good dog, Bella!

being good2we're good too

And Quillette, she’s being the best of all because usually she doesn’t like the wild puppy energy that both Saber and Bella bring to the backyard. Today though, she was fine with it.

Anything for a treat!

I got to walk Bella home and again, she was an absolute peach. That’s how Gretchen said it — an absolute peach. She doesn’t say that about me very often, though I’ve had my peachy moments throughout my life!

After Bella was dropped off, Gretchen gave me a special reward. I got to play fetch all by myself. Nobody chasing me, nobody trying to tackle me, nobody but the two of us. It was great! Of course, then I got a whiff of something in the bushes and Gretchen wondered what I was up to! Hunting!


Guess what I found? A football high up in the bushes! How fun is that!


Of course, it’s really hard to pick up a football with a dog’s mouth so I just tried to tear it apart. Gretchen took it from me after that and is going to donate it to the school. Bummer. Who thought of shaping a ball like that anyway!

So we played fetch and then walked across the street to pick up Saber. He was happy to see us again and proceeded to play fetch with me on the same grassy field!

fetchingchasing me

Saber likes to lie in wait for me and then pounce when I race by…like I can’t see him! Heck, he weighs more than I do and he’s only 4 months old!

lying in waitpounce

He also likes to disturb me when I’m scratching my back. That’s a lot of dog jumping on me in my moment of joy.


But Gretchen distracted him by running up and down the field and giving him his own ball to play with. He thought the leaf was more interesting!

runningears up

cute boyleaf vs. ball

Saber is a good boy. Probably a better boy than I am or was at his age. Still, I like this story Gretchen told me today. She said that when she told her class I was coming to visit they needed to know some of the rules. For one, I don’t like running in the hallways. Secondly, I don’t like play fighting. And finally, I’m not really fond of people I don’t know petting me on the head. A girl in her class said, “He sounds just like a teacher, well, except for the petting of the head. Oh, but I suppose teachers don’t like that either.”

That’s it, isn’t it? I’m not just a good boy most of the time, I’m a teacher, too.

Until tomorrow,


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