I’m thinking about taking Arthur back to obedience classes. It’s not that he doesn’t know the basic commands like sit, stay, down, off, and come, it’s more like he doesn’t see the need to obey them. He does pretty good when I reward him with a small piece of chicken. I was told that worked well for training dogs by the last trainer we had. If I’m giving him treats the need factor goes way up. In fact Arthur gets so excited to follow my commands when I’m giving him chicken that often he will immediately flop down onto his stomach when I say “sit.” I imagine he thinks that if sitting is good, lying down must be better.
While I was walking at the VOA park with him this morning, I decided to try out some of his commands. I often tell him to “come” just to check and see if he will. I worry that his harness will have a catastrophic failure and Arthur will be free to roam unleashed, in which case he’d better know how to come if I call. This morning I told him to “stand,” and he very smartly sat down. In Arthur’s defense, that really wasn’t a fair test because I’m not sure we worked on standing very much.
I also worked with him on “heel” today. That went pretty well because, let’s face it, Arthur is a small dog in a harness and I can pretty much keep him wherever I want him, which works out nice when we are walking in areas of muddy puddles. However, he was looking at the dog behind us most of the time we were heeling, so I’m not sure he would have gotten high marks on that one.
We’re trained to get Arthur back in the house after we let him out. He comes to the door. We open it and then go to the refrigerator for a piece of chicken, which we may or may not actually take out to give him. Opening the refrigerator door is often enough incentive. He comes in every time. You’re probably thinking that coming back in the house when you are standing at the door looking in is something you wouldn’t require a treat to do. I know. I feel the same way. I refuse to play. If he doesn’t come in when I open the door I close it right back on his little face, soulful eyes and all, turn my back and walk out of the room. He usually comes when I try again, if I leave him out there long enough, especially if it is raining.
Arthur graduated from beginners obedience class and was taking intermediate class when we quit going. He did not graduate from intermediate class, which I think was partly due to the fact that the instructor was not at all charmed by royalty.
We are not entirely to blame for Arthur’s attitude at times. We were heartbroken people finding comfort in cuddling an adorable soft and fluffy puppy.
Our first dog, Honey, was a rescue dog that the neighborhood vet was boarding for a client who found her in their yard. Honey came to us well-behaved. She loved to please. I took her to obedience classes too and the teacher loved her. So did we. We didn’t need chicken to get her back in the house.
When Honey died early and suddenly from a disc problem in her neck, we were all heartbroken. I maintained that I did not want another dog for about the first 24 hours, and then I knew I needed one. This time I wanted a small dog that I could pick up if he or she had a problem. Honey had collapsed in our yard one afternoon from her neck problem while we were at a relative’s house. Our daughter called us home. On our return we saw Honey lying in the yard and Anna sitting in a lawn chair beside her. I don’t want to go through something like that again. If Arthur collapses anywhere I’ll be able to get him back home and into the house again.
At first I looked for a rescue dog and found a little black puppy I wanted to look at, but by the time Mark was able to go with me to see it someone else had adopted it. It quickly became apparent to me that puppies and small cute dogs were not stranded at the SPCA very long. It reminded me of trying to enter contests on the radio in the ’70s. You had to be highly motivated, vigilant, persistent, and on the mark. I still don’t know how you can ever be the first caller, or the 10th, or the 50th. I wasn’t motivated enough to persist at that.
I found Arthur while searching online for peek-a-poos. My sister had one and I liked the mixed breed. When we got him he was just a little ball of white fluff. He looked like a cotton ball hopping across the back yard when he was still small enough that we could easily catch him if he decided to go for a marathon around the neighborhood.
So maybe we coddled him. A bit.
But I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks. We shall see.