Dog Charmer: Not Taking My Own Advice as Jeffrey Joins the Shelby Household

The Dog Charmer

Not Taking My Own Advice as
Jeffrey Joins the Shelby Household

Jeffrey, looking deceptively well-mannered as he rests next to Paula Jean.

I recently heard a cute tip, or recommendation, for older people when it comes to travel: “In your 60s, go-go; in your 70s, slow-go; in your 80s, no-go.” Well, considering myself, I’d change the formula to go-go in your 70s, slow-go in your 80s and no-go in your 90s.

When it comes to dogs, though, I have to revert back to 60s, 70s, and 80s for mid-sized and large “four-leggeds.” It’s probably been well over 20 years since I lost count of all the “older” people who asked me about getting a dog, who I told to get a small dog. And for good reason. I’ve witnessed—and been privy to—way too many catastrophes, when the “not young” owner suffers a broken hip or arm after being accidentally tripped or pulled down by the exuberant 8-month-old, 60 pound “whatever” dog. In addition to the negativity of the owner’s healing time, these situations sometimes end up with the dog in a shelter, or worse.

So, several weeks ago, I’m in a “not young” lady’s house to help her with her recently acquired, 8-month-old goldendoodle. I’ll call him Jeffrey. Jeffrey weighs about 50 pounds and is extremely smart and responsive but, basically, totally out of control.

When I entered the house, the well-intentioned owner had Jeffrey on leash, trying to hold him back while opening the door. This resulted in Jeffrey pummeling me with his body and jumping on me until I was able to take the leash, snap it when he was airborne, and praise him when he had four legs on the floor. I was pleasantly surprised at Jeffrey’s quick uptake and response. He didn’t cooperate out of fear, but rather with an attitude of, “Okay, I get it.” He was appreciating the mental stimulation and challenge of quickly figuring out what I wanted, and loving earning the treats for his cooperation. But the leash transfer, and enabling the owner to achieve the same level of cooperation from Jeffrey, was clearly a long way off.

At my second visit, long story short, she asked if I could find a home for Jeffrey. Thinking—knowing—one of my daughters will be ready for a dog quite soon, he’s now living with me. My initial intent is one of civilizing Jeffrey and then giving him to my daughter. But, as I told my daughter, if I have him long enough to seriously bond with him, all bets are off.

My standard poodle, Paula Jean, is almost 11 years old and the easiest dog in the world to live with. Totally cooperative, hikes off leash with us every day, no hassles, nothing.
Enter an 8-month-old, unruly, wild punk to our calm household, and Paula Jean is thinking about renting a room at a bed and breakfast for a respite. And wife Jaye and I, for our own survival, are back to full-on training. As I’m writing this, I had to tell Jeffrey to drop the small rock he took out of the pot the jade plant is in. But truth be told, Jeffrey’s a really nice guy—really nice and really smart. And Paula Jean has actually wagged her tail at him a couple of times.

Looks like I may not be taking my own advice!

Dog Charmer Tom

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