March 19, 2010

Some Dogs

I apologize for the lateness of this blog. Friday night was a very busy time at our household!

Some dogs actually do things without receiving a reward. Can you imagine? I mean, I’ll do things — like sit and stay and lie down — but I’m really most obedient when there’s a treat involved. Most of the dogs we walk aren’t this way. Does that make me special or spoiled?

I’m going to say it makes me special and here’s my evidence:

Monty is obedient by choice. He’s a really good dog and doesn’t misbehave, but getting him to sit and stay is nearly impossible. Pull out a treat and there’s no way he’s going to behave. While he’ll sit and look well-behaved for a moment or two, he inches forward or leaps up if the treat isn’t delivered quickly.

Woobie doesn’t much like treats. Yes, she’ll eat them if the timing is right, but the timing has nothing to do with a command or an expectation. Nope, Woobie is one of those dogs who obeys simply because she always does the right thing and has no intention of being bribed or acting spoiled. Jeez!

Oshi and Perrito know very few commands so if you hold out a treat for them, they’ll be interested, but look at you like, “What? I can’t hear you! Give me the treat!” Therefore, getting them to look at the camera or sit by a flower pot takes monumental effort on everyone’s part, especially Gretchen’s.

And then there’s Gemma. Obey? Not on your life. Treat? “Sure,” she’ll say, “but why do I have to earn it?” She’ll gobble down the treats after a quick sit, but go right back to spinning at the end of her leash or bumping into me inviting me to play even though it’s photo time.

And if Saber’s joined us on the walk, her focus is simply on getting him to play with her.

Saber is, of course, an obedient lab. He sits at every corner, stays when commanded, and though not always 100% on the “come” command, he is getting better. Does he need a treat? Not always. Does he like a treat? More than any dog we walk, but he is obedient by nature, which I suppose makes him special, too.

So when we’re trying to capture a photo of the three of us, I wait obediently, albeit bored, for my treat while Saber tries to rub off his face collar (that he hates so much) and still hold the stay command, and Gemma holds a pose briefly and then tackles Saber if the treat isn’t delivered immediately.

Or she’ll bump into me and I must ruin my perfect sit/stay.

It’s a comedy of errors. While this shot looks okay, (even though Saber is still rubbing his face in the grass) it took ten minutes of dog wrangling on Gretchen’s part to get it.

Finally, when we drop Gemma off at her house, she waves goodbye from her window while Saber and I wait on the steps — Saber does it for praise and scratch behind the ears while I do it for the treat I know will emerge from Gretchen’s pocket!

Am I spoiled? No, I think of myself as special because I work for the treats. Others are either obedient or obstinate, it’s hard to tell and their motivation is not in the food — it comes from some place all together foreign to me.

The weather was beautiful today and is predicted to be outstanding tomorrow, so we hope everyone has a chance to get outside on Saturday and play with their faithful (and spoiled) canine friends!

Have a great weekend,


Leave a Reply