I never met him, but I heard all about what a great dog Charlie was. Charlie did all the usual sit, stay, and come commands to perfection. Charlie was a people dog. Charlie refused to eat before his people, who are my niece and her family.
Charlie left for that big doggie bone in the sky some time ago, so last weekend my sister, Linda, and her husband, Gary, puppy-sat for the new dog, Henry.
Henry is a labra-doodle and is, at four months, already stealing hearts and shaping up to be at least as good a dog as his predecessor. He sits and comes when called and generally projects happiness with every ounce of attention. He is confident and loving, even to a stranger like me.
Last weekend, Henry learned to swim in the lake, and flopped around with awkward puppy movements that made everyone smile. He literally wore himself out with the excitement of having so many people around and so many new things to sniff and look at. He was so tired, he even went to his kennel at night without a fuss.
He went to his kennel, that is, until one of my great nephews decided the kennel would make a terrific playhouse. As the toddler climbed in and over the pup, Henry good-naturedly moved out, but kept an eye on the events of his home base carefully.
I think Henry illustrates how important it is to include your dog in your life. So often we adopt pets only to loose interest in them after a year or so, and then they adopt bad behaviors. When you keep a dog near you, play with him or her, give them a good, reliable routine, and practice good “parenting” behaviors, you end up with a great dog–a Henry (or in my case, a Prophet).
I think people get lost in the how of exercising the above. Here are some things I think you can do with your dog at any age:
- Brush and groom Sunshine – add icing to the cake by talking to her
- Walk him – both on leash and off. Understand that new places are exciting and intellectually challenging and that dogs “read” their world through their noses
- Play hide-the-treats so that Henry explores in rooms and places you want him, and the places you don’t, he’ll lose interest in
- If you’re tired or don’t feel well, throw unsugared cereal for Maggie to “fetch.” Easy to do, fun to watch
- Socialize, socialize, socialize! Take your dog to hardware or other stores where he is welcome. I have been seeing more and more stores like this. Take Spot to parks and veterinarians (without a vet visit and shots involved) and introduce him to strangers like police officers and children. If you want a socially acceptable dog, you have to help him or her learn that skill set.
Henry is in good hands, with an extended family and great pet “parents.” Hope you have fun with your furry friend, and help him or her to be the best dog he can.