Dog Training · 5 June 2011
I did not realize it until recently, but my dog is training me. I know that most people probably train their dogs and truth be told, I did train our ferocious beast to sit. But as I look back, I realize that she has been training me a lot more than I have her.
We got our little West Highland White Terrier, Yukiko, a year after we had our youngest son. Apparently, my mom, looked at the food the kids threw all over the floor, and said that we needed a dog. My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, jumped all over that and started researching. It is her normal mode of operation. She gets an idea into her head, researches it, then, finally goes through with the plan. Getting “permission” from my mom was just what she needed. After all, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi was lobbying for a dog long before my mom said we should get one.
(Now before I start to look like the bad guy in this story, I must clarify that I do like dogs. As a matter of fact, long before my mom said we should get one, my wife and I had been discussing whether to get a dog. I kept saying that dogs are outside pets and she kept saying that they needed to be able to come inside with the rest of the family. That argument was usually enough to table the dog discussion for a while and keep our yard free from poop – the only other reason I wanted to be free from having a dog.)
Once the research process started, I knew that getting a dog was just a matter of time. I did not realize it would happen so quickly though.
Part of the research was getting a trial dog for a couple days. Unfortunately, not only was the dog too big for our yard, he wanted to eat Thing 1, who was only about eight at the time. Apparently, the trial dog was really a one family dog and Thing 1 was away when we started our trial period. Needless to say, the big dog with pointy teeth did not make the cut. Shortly after the trial dog left, the research period was over.
When we finally did get our little puppy, she was the cutest little thing. We got her in the winter when it was snowing which is how she got her name. “Yuki” means snow and “ko” is child in Japanese.
Needless to say, our little dog has grown a bit, and may even be a bit overweight. Which brings me back to my original statement. The dog has been training me. And my wife. The dog trained The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi to feed her at the same time every day. And she has gotten me to give her a second dinner every once in a while by acting like she never ate. Fortunately, my wife got wise to Yukiko’s trick, so now we ask each other if anybody gave her dinner.
I really am not the soft touch that it is going to seem like here in a moment. (After all, the kids usually ask their mother the important questions and treat me like I am invisible.) But for some reason, the dog thought that I was her elevator. And then she trained me to be.
Our chubby little dog was having a hard time getting up the stairs for a while. She is heavy because she is getting older and not staying in shape by acting like a dog (or kid) and running around like crazy all the time. She probably figured that a dog of her years should act more civilized and mature all the time. And she did not like to expend too much energy. Especially going up the stairs. Consequently, when it was bed time, she would sit at the bottom of the steps and wait for somebody to pick her up and carry her to the bedroom.
I must admit that the dog was training me long before I started acting as her elevator. After all, before she is put into her own bed, she gets to lie on The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi’s bed for a bit of time. It is not like the two do not spend time together during the day, they both just like routine and expect a last bit of contact before turning out the light. So when Yukiko sits at the side of the bed, I know (for I have been trained) that she wants to get up on the bed for her nightly nap before sleeping.
I guess it was just a matter of time before I got the hint. When the dog sits, I am supposed to pick her up and carry her to where she wants to go. It took a while, but I did finally start to carry her up the stairs when she sat down patiently waiting. Unfortunately, I did not have a palanquin to place her upon, but she did not mind the indignity of being manhandled up the stairs by me.
Sadly (for the dog), I do not carry Yukiko up the stairs anymore. I realized that she had brainwashed me and trained me to do her bidding so I revolted and made her walk up by herself. I reasoned that it was good exercise. Besides, one day, when she is old and grey, I will probably start carrying her up again. Then, her training will not have been in vain.
I love our little dog. Even if she does try to train me to do her bidding. And I would probably write a little more about her, but I think I hear her calling me.
© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi
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