I just got finished with a little morning bliss – working with my dog, Annie. There’s something about having a dog that gives me a lift, makes me happy and in a way, completes me.
I grew up in a family that always had a dog. Always. My dad used them for hunting, but we also got to play with them. The first dog I can remember, Cleo, was a German Shorthair. We used to dress her up in farm boots, put baseball caps on her head. No exploring trip was complete without Cleo by our side. I can even remember one summer afternoon when my younger brother fell asleep on the front porch with his arm around Cleo, using her as his pillow. She woke up, but never moved until he was awake. She was quite a dog!
Duke (the first) was another memorable dog. He was the first German Wirehair Pointer that my dad owned. Boy was he scruffy! Ugly but loveable, that’s how I’d describe him. When released from the kennel, Duke would run straight at the nearest kid. At the very last possible moment he would turn aside and just miss us by a whisker! I loved the game, but my younger brother made a miscalculation one day and moved in the direction that Duke also happened to choose. Andy ended up on the ground with a bloody nose. From my perspective as a kid, the very best trick Duke performed was what we referred to as Jumping Barrels. One kid would lie down on the grass and Duke would run at them and jump over them. He’d wait while we added another kid and them jump over the pair. This waiting and adding kids continued until we had a whole passel of kids lying down, face up, on the lawn. He could clear us every time! If I remember correctly, his record was nine kids. We never found out if he could jump over more. We never seemed to have more than nine kids in our backyard at one time.
But back to my own dog. Annie loves to play. Probably because she’s still a puppy. (She’s 16 months old.) She catches tennis balls in her mouth, catches Frisbees on the fly, plays tug with her rope toy (by herself if I’m busy in the yard), runs with me when I’m on my bike, sits, stays, fetches and comes. Last night Hubby and the kids were picking strawberries. She’d be right in there picking her own berries if we let her, but we don’t. Instead she had to stay up with me on the patio. When the kids found berries that were overripe or bird/bug eaten, they’d toss them to Annie. She loves them! Mostly she caught them in her mouth. She made some really amazing catches.
Thanks to a little technology, I’ve been enjoying my dog more than ever. I finally broke down and bought a shock training collar. Best money I’ve spent on the dog so far. Prior to the shock collar if we were out in the yard with Annie off the leash, she’d just up and run off to visit the neighbors’ chickens or dog whenever she wanted. No amount of “Come!” or “NO!” would bring her back. It was highly frustrating! Mostly we’d put her on a long leash when we were out in the yard with her so that when she’d start to make a run for it we could step on the leash and stop her. Problem was, the leash was dangerous. If you weren’t careful it would wrap around your ankles. (I got the worst rope burn of my life from the long leash.)
Thankfully, the shock collar has solved all of Annie’s obedience problems. It comes equipped with a beep and a shock button. It also has a dial to let me adjust the amount of shock. I couldn’t feel anything on my hand until I got to level three. Level four was a mild shock, and level five was a high as I wanted to experiment on myself. When I first tried it on Annie she didn’t register any sensation until level five, so that was the training level I started on. When she’d start to misbehave I’d give the training command followed by the beep. If she didn’t comply, she’d get a shock. The first couple of days she got shocked quite a few times, but by the third day all I had to do was sound the beeper on her collar and she’d obey. And now that I’ve had the collar a week, she rarely even gets the beep. She’s now the dog of my dreams!
Speaking of dream dogs, our family was watching the Great American Dog contest on TV last night. Of course now that Annie is more obedient I think she has contender possibilities. To prove it I tried teaching her some new tricks this morning. First we worked on Play Dead. Because she already knows Lie Down and Roll Over, Play Dead wasn’t too hard. I’m also giving her a hand command – my hand held like a finger gun. That way when she’s fully mastered Play Dead I can use my hand signal, say “Bang, bang,” and have her die. Cool, huh?
Next I taught Annie how to jump over a broomstick. It was a little more challenging but with more practice she’ll master it. And who knows, once she can jump over a stick maybe we can line some kids up on the grass and have her Jump Barrels like Duke used to.