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Sunday, May 31, 2020
Their View / Opinion

Conestoga heroes

I once read that Leonardo da Vinci slept five hours a night – which I find hard to believe, since they did not have sleep apps to monitor these things back then. If this is true, however, it was probably because he had a puppy.

This is something that no one tells you when they are trying to coax you into buying that cute little bundle of joy. Yet, it is absolutely the case, which is why I believe puppies should come with the warning label, Caution: Will destroy sleep patterns.

My own puppy, Rosie, arrived last week and, in that short time, I have taught her how to come when called, go to the potty outside, and retrieve training dummies fairly consistently. In turn, she has taught me never to take sleep for granted again.

Like all new pups, Rosie has only two speeds – full out and sleep. And she does both with incredible enthusiasm.

Don’t get me wrong. Unlike our cats, I do not regret welcoming her into our home for even a moment. I love her enthusiasm and the joyful way she tackles every waking moment. Plus, I still harbour dreams of spectacular flushes and amazing retrieves.

I am just hoping I can be fully awake to witness them.

Rosie, I think, has figured this out – and being the considerate pup she is, has started to train me a little so that we can enjoy our time afield together even more.

So I’m happy to say, if the last two days are any indication, I’ve finally learned to obey the nap command.

Basically, when Rosie wants me to nap, she signals me by sitting on my feet and whimpering a bit. Then, since I am conditioned to pick her up, I do so. At this point, she looks at me with her big, olive eyes and then nuzzles her little nose under my chin and wiggles to get even tighter to me.

Sensing she is tired, I take her to her dog bed and gently lay her down. Then, I try to slip away as she settles for what I hope is a long nap. But every time I do, she whimpers a little more.

So I lie down beside her and she snuggles closer. Soon I think, “OK, she’s getting my body heat and she has settled down. I’ll just stay here until she doses …”

Half an hour later, Rosie will wake me and reward me for my obedience with a lick on the nose or perhaps a gentle nip on the ear. And the look she gives me says, “Good boy!”

Like all competent trainers, she does not overdo it – at most, this happens three times a day. She is also consistent in the way she implements the command and will not take no for an answer.

Repetition, another hallmark of good training, is something, Rosie believes in too. That’s why she trains me like this every day and corrects my errors – snoring, for instance – as they occur.

She does all this with a firm and steady paw and never loses her patience or gets frustrated if I don’t obey the first time. Instead she just praises me for getting it right when I do. Then, since we just got up, she takes me outside in case I have to go potty.

Rosie, like all puppies, knows you can teach an old dog new tricks. But only if he is tired enough.


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