coolest FedEx guy...ever

Tires crunch the gravel and the dogs are going ape to alert me to the inevitable- "mom, there's someone in the driveway".
Yep, I see those old purple and green letters on the side of the truck. "Wait", I tell them as I slip out the door to prevent the knocking, door bell ringing and what have you mayhem.

"How many are in there?" the driver asks.
"Just two, why does it sound like more?"
"Let 'em out", he says...

My ears do a double, sure!

Sweets and Tater stroll out the front door.

"One for you and one for you". He hands them two gigantic bisuits, which, Sweets in her picky taste, happily put in her mouth.

"They're probably going to jump in the truck", I said as the rock and roll kept blaring out of the open door.

"That's happened before. I have lots of dogs that will jump on my truck before I can even get the package to the door."

"Because you've given them treats before?"


Now that's the power of positive reinforcement.

They both headed back towards the door, so I opened it, and they ran to the rug to devour their treat from the happy stranger.

one eyed and bra less

Did you ever notice that when dog hi jinks happen, they seem to happen when you are most unprepared? Which of course, points to why training is great, because you seemingly train for more responsiveness, even if you yourself are handicapped. For instance, last week, I'm walking the dogs out to the pasture, off leash, as per usual. Half way down the back yard, I blink my left eye- ow! Pause, take out my contact lens, that is ripped in two and promptly toss it in the grass. I'm blinking and watching them, pseudo enjoying the now half fuzzy morning view. So it goes. They chase a few sparrows, do the usual sniffing/marking routine and we're on our way back up to the house.

Wait a minute...they walk back to the front of the barn.

Hey, it looks like Sweets is behind the fence? How did that happen???

Crap! The wire fence popped off the split rail...that's how that happened.

Tater circles with great intention- as if to say, "Hey mom, pretty cool, eh? Hey where you going?...."

I walk back into the barn, cucumber cool and grab a roll of Natural Balance dog food. Ha! Dog hi jinks, I'm all covered!

I watch as Sweets sniffs intensely in hind brain mode in the woods- probably rabbit scenting, who knows.
What I do know is it is fruitless for me to call her to me when she's glazed over and "gone".

So we keep our eye on her, Tater munches on food for sitting, lying down, staying near. And a few minutes later, she returns to us- major reward time and we're FINALLY on our way back to the house.

Then...I spot a wandering beagle in the back yard, peeing on the brain goes....
ok, strange dog...they will leash...road...
Here guys! And I escort them into the fenced pasture.

Then I have my bone to pick with the beagle. In classic Paul Morgan fashion (my dad), spine aligned, front facing, I walk toward the beagle, doing my best to communicate "get the hell out of here and stop peeing on my bushes". With no more than a wayward glance over his shoulder, his lifted leg hits the ground and he's off and running.

Back to the pasture.

But, there I am, half blind, bra less, the taste of doggie trainer/management victory in my mouth. And there is another damn beagle in the yard. Sweets sees him, stops and pauses, I order her into the house. Tater rushes up to him, postures and the disappear into the front yard.

All rationale out the window now...


All I can imagine is my unidentified dog chasing a beagle for miles and miles and miles away from home.

They run to the far edge of the front yard, right by the tall pines the boarder the road. Magically he runs off the beagle and stops. He turns back towards me and is still.

I crouch down and he hauls buns back to me. Followed by jackpot celebration a la Natural Balance.

And I got it, sometimes it is lack of training. Sometimes you train for moments just like this. One thing over rides all of it- dogs will be dogs.

Look, if a strange car pulled up in your driveway, you are likely to peek through the blinds or get out on the porch, posturing and thinking, "who the hell are you?".

In the dog world, my young, intact male does his best everyday to leave his calling card around town, advertising his eligible status and come hell or high water, no goofy free ranging beagle is going to mark his territory or compete for the ladies. I found it amazing that his hard wiring did just that- the minimal amount of "force"/chasing to get the dog off the property line. And let me tell you we hardly spend ANY time in the front yard, because I don't want my dogs dancing near the road.

As a trainer, we often pass along what we know and how we learned to our clients. And it's usually all about the mechanics and skills. Forget the skills. I can see now what is necessary is to have people understand the species first. Because it so explains many things that we would call "bad", simply as dogs being engineered to do what dogs do, and after all, they are a different species.