In what now seems like another life, I once belonged to a dog training club. My then-husband and I had two wonderful golden retrievers and for years we trained them in obedience and agility, going to shows each weekend and working and playing hard with our dogs. Then there was a divorce and a move away from the club, and with a blossoming career and two dogs to manage on my own, my training time slipped away. The final blow was Rheumatoid Arthritis, which severely limited my ability to work with my dogs. (You can see the bottom of my brace in this picture). Thus they became couch potatoes. More dogs have followed and while I made sure to take each of them to obedience class, that was the end of our training. They each learned the basics–sit, down, stay, come (sort of)–and that’s about it.
But when we lost Jet two weeks ago, I began lavishing more attention on Keeper. I have to admit that we’ve always thought of Keeper as a bit of a “dim bulb” in comparison to Jet. Shyer, more neurotic, less responsive and physically slow. (Why run if you can walk?) But he’s been a comfort and a joy to me lately, and as I started working with him, I was amazed that he remembered his clicker training from puppyhood, nine long years ago. In one five-minute session, he learned the things I should have taught him years ago: shake, spin, play bow. He’s now moved on to tapping my sunglasses (not on my face) with his nose when I say “where are the glasses?” He’s loving every minute and so am I. Always a wanderer on the beach (no leash law after September 30th here), he’s now glued to my side. Of course, this training is treat-centric, but whatever! It works and we’re having fun. We miss Jet so much, but I think he’s okay. I picture the Rainbow Bridge paved with Beggin’ Strips.