When I first went to the animal shelter and fell in love with “Pippy” the puppy I couldn’t wait to get her home. And to change her name. (No self respecting dog wants to be called “Pippy.”) I had visions of her shaking my hand for a treat, swimming around with other labs and maybe even retrieving a beer from the fridge for me.
Now 8 years later Stella, my Oregon Black Dog (because she’s a black mutt from Oregon,) knows one trick. And it’s wrong.
I made a conscious decision not to teach Stella to fetch. I know plenty of dogs who sit at your feet waiting for you to throw a ball. And then keep throwing. And keep throwing. Drives me nuts. And though I didn’t really think she would ever get me a beer, it was a fun thought.
Before she got arthritis she gave me “hugs” by jumping up and putting her paws on my forearms when I got home. But she would never jump on other people. She makes a loud Chewbacca-like sound when I feed her. I like to think of it as a “thank you.” She comes when she’s called. She sits for a treat. She’ll never steal or beg for your food. She might not care for the swimming or chewing on toys and couldn’t care less about playing with other dogs, but overall, my dog is pretty awesome. I feel really lucky when I go to people’s homes and their dogs don’t listen to commands, they jump all over people, bark and beg for your food.
My Stella is a one trick pup. Here it is. When we give her a treat we attempt to get the Chewbacca noise out of her. We ask her “Can you say it?” She gets up, walks around in a circle and sits back down. She wags her tail and stares at us, so proud of herself. That’s her one trick. That’s it.
Of course, this has been going on for years, and there is no need to change it. It’s actually really funny. But my husband will never forgive me for not teaching Stella to fetch. Looking back, it is good exercise for dogs and it wouldn’t have hurt. But then again, her ONE trick wouldn’t be so funny if she could fetch.