Oh Dutchess…

As I was feeding the dogs last night in the kennel and as they finished, I opened their kennel door to let them out.  Dutchess is nearly always last because there “might” be a smidgen of food or Salmon oil left behind.  Everyone eagerly goes out the door but Dutchess.  She will linger behind and check all the bowls in each stall.  Every single one gets a good licking, and we can be there for hours if she gets even a whiff of food.  “Dutchess,” I said in a stern voice because this is a daily routine and she knows what I want sadly walks away.  Her next trick is to stand next to the food container and sit.  She looks at me, then at the container and back at me and barks as if saying “I’m hungry”  Really, when has she never been hungry?

Just last week, I was on the phone and making breakfast too.  I had made poached eggs with cheese and a little-smoked paprika along with a piece of a breakfast roll.  I heard some grunting, and as I looked around knowing Dutchess was inside, so I was cautious.  Everything appeared fine, and I looked back at the sink.  “Hey” where is my bread but now I knew.  Dutchess was hunkered under the table attempting to get the whole thing in her mouth.  I rounded the corner and with her mouth down and full, her eyes up but looking at me, she knew I was on to her.  She slowly walked to the door with half of the roll out her mouth gobbling as fast as she could, she knew…

When she was training to become a therapy dog, she was picking it up pretty good until she became bored and wanted to do something else.  A trick I learned was to rub a pepperoni slice between my fingers and she will follow me to California and back just for a lick.  About half way through, we started training for the test.  The instructor said part of it was to let the dog take a treat from the qualifier.  STOP… Dutchess will gladly take a treat from you but be prepared to have your fingers washed, and she will scrape anything off your hand with her teeth.   If any dog touched the hand with any part of their teeth, they are disqualified.  After class I went to the instructor and said, we’re finished, she can’t do it and the instructor said that I can deny their request if I wanted to.

The big day came, and I was nervous because how will it look if I don’t do it.  It was not a good thing to do, and so I thought we would skip it.  As we walked into the testing area and to her glory was a table of food for the instructors and staff.  Her ears perked up, and she was in heaven.  She looked at me, and in her eyes, I knew we were in trouble.  “Can we move a little away from the food?” I said.  Knowing if we moved across the street it wouldn’t make a difference, but I had to try.

The test started, and she looked like she was actually interested but maybe it was because she thought she was in for a big buffet after she was finished.  Then the question came “can I give your dog a treat?”  Knowing she was doing pretty good, and I didn’t have to honor their request, it came out of nowhere, I said “Sure”  Oh my God, what did I just say and now it was too late to say no.  I don’t know what came over me and we were going to fail on the last command.  Everything went into slow motion, the treat came from her pocket, and her hand extended and as it was beginning to lower to her… I screeched “please keep your hand closed until it’s under her chin and place it palm up.”  

We were at the finish line and about to fall down, and possibly get kicked out of town.  As her hand opened up, Dutchess looked at me, and I nodded an OK she turned and went for it.  Not in a thousand years would it happen.  Dutchess’s long tongue extended and in a flash, the treat was gone.  I nearly peed my pants, and I don’t know if it was from fear or joy.  She did it, and like a proud trainer who has just won the international championship in sheep herding, I patted her head and said: “that'll do.”  I couldn’t believe we passed and with flying colors.  Everybody was happy except Dutchess, The buffet wasn’t for her.  What a mess…  You may be excited to know that is is one gene that she passed to many of her pups, lucky you...Ken