Today we took a walk…

August 2014

…and we left our prong collars at home. And it was the Worst. Walk. Ever.

A little background:
During our training at Old Town School for Dogs, both dogs were put on prong collars. The collars were left loose. The prongs are rubber-tipped. Yes, prong collars are controversial. I’m not interested in an argument; please don’t engage.

Since we’ve completed the training, when we gear-up for a walking adventure, the prongs go on. They’re so loose they may as well be necklaces. We refer to the collars as their bling. They sing rap songs when they wear them. Ok, I do. It’s charming. Trust me.

Bygones.

The point is, the dogs walk like angels when they’re wearing them. They strut nicely beside each other, heel like champs and respond to our cues on the first call. The moment I take the collars off, it’s mayhem. Crossed leashes, pulling, lunging… The collars serve as a reminder of what they’re supposed to do, and the treats and praise that follow successes.

But last Sunday, I attended an Animal Welfare League of Arlington Breakfast with Bullies session. We learned about Good Canine Citizenship certification and the types of therapy dog opportunities in our area.

Our dogs are awesome. They’re great with people and children. They’re silly and loving and sweet. They make us happy. They’re more entertaining than television. And we can share them with people who could use a little laughter.

And so, over the next year, we’re redoubling our training efforts. We’re trading in our prong collars for harnesses. We’re going to push their limits and our own as we lock in our recall, our “Leave It”, and as we increase our tolerance for sudden noises and distractions. They’ll train separately and together. With both parents at the end of the leash.

Buy your stock in Kraft American Cheese and Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs. We’re training for gold.

I could eat.

July 2011

On a particularly lazy Sunday, we huddle in the house waiting out a summer storm. James makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich, and he’s been begged into submission and is shuffling around the kitchen making our lunch. Pans clang, burners ignite.  Out comes the bread loaf, cheese slices and butter.  The commotion draws Doodle’s attention, and he becomes the instant helper by standing right behind James while he works.

Helper= trip hazard

MJ snores on the couch, indifferent to the activity in the next room.

mj is not interested.

mj is not interested.

James peels open the Kraft American Cheese Singles slice.  MJ bolts into the kitchen. There’s something about that plastic noise that has her unsettled.

“Hey Miss, what’s up?  We’re making lunch,” James chats.

Zo shifts his settled position into the middle of the kitchen, and MJ begins duckling-stalking behind James as he moves from counter to cook-top.  She steps on/over Doodle.  Ears pert, eyes open, sniffing the air.

Without thinking about it, James takes a small corner of cheese and offers it to Zo.  MJ erupts in her Brontosaurus whine.  How dare she be overlooked and unoffered.  She screams for her fair share.

“Ok, Miss.  Hold on.”  He tears a piece of cheese.  “Sit.”

From the other room, I can hear her butt hit hard on the floor.  She slurps the cheese down.

“Good girl!  Stay.”  James walks a few steps away.  She’s twitchy but working very hard to stay put.  “COME!”

From the couch, I hear the jingles of the furbaby stampede.  “Sit.”  Two dog rumps thwap the ground.

photo[1]

Ladies and Gentlemen: we have a winner.

This Girl will do anything for Kraft singles.  It’s her Klondike bar; her holy grail.  Within a week, she’s mastering her cues for a tiny nibble of cheese.

We replenish our stock, but this time with the white singles slices (which I prefer).  MJ won’t take them.  She turns her snoot up and sulks away.  Back to the store we go.

Only the yellow slices for this princess.