The Dog’s News

You might remember my telling you that we’d adopted a puppy and that Cassie might be kinda sorta batshit crazy? I think I mentioned that her preferred snack appeared to be throw rugs and upholstered furniture? And that her favorite exercise equipment was a trampoline–which would have been fine but that trampoline was my husband’s or my upright body–and that she’d perfected a  running four foot jump-on landing? (I tried to be proud that she clearly liked me best, possibly because I was easiest to knock down, allowing her to combine gymnastics with bowling, her other favorite sport.) I probably let you know that she was her own best cheerleader: she’s been so brilliant at barking in celebration of her spectacular athleticism, that our town approached us about using her to replace the aging tornado sirens that aren’t heard well enough in our more rural areas.

Well, she’s come a long way. Seriously, dear readers. All it’s taken is about ten years off our life spans, maybe half our retirement accounts to pay for training, more patience than your average twenty preschool teachers combined, and about an hour and a half a day to exercise her. Our great vet also prescribed medication to calm her down. (I took it instead of giving it to Cassie–why should she get all the good stuff? and it’s been quite helpful.)

My theory about what’s really really made the difference is: we found out that we (and by we I mean my husband) found out that given a few patient lessons, this dog was born to swim and loves it passionately. Apparently some beagadors* (half Lab, half beagle) take after their Lab parents and live for the water, and Cassidy is one of them. All Alan had to do was to first discover that, also like her Lab parent, she lives to retrieve tennis balls, and she’s actually possibly the best and most faithful retriever we’ve had yet. She chases down a tennis ball with total concentration and immediately runs it all the way back, drops it without needing to be told, and (yeah, this part not ideal) barks until he or I pick it up and throw it as far as we can again. We’re working hard on the barking part there. But the swimming? All Alan had to do was ruin a couple pair of shoes by first tossing the ball maybe three feet into the river. At first she wouldn’t go in without him, so in he went, up to about his knees, pants, shoes and all. A few days of that, and he didn’t go in at all.

Then he started throwing the ball farther and farther in. Soon the ball was deep enough that it was over her head. She swam. And from then on, she’s been swimming after that ball no matter where he throws it. And–go figure–her devotion to her other sports has waned. I’m not thinking she’ll be entering a bowling tournament, and the Olympic vault gymnastic competition is a no-go. She’s not even practicing. Now she carries her ball in her mouth and eagerly leads the way to her favorite swimming hole daily. And it’s not even one she dug in our backyard!

Yes, it’s true. She’s stopped her yard excavation endeavors. Now…is this because she’s harried all the moles enough that they’ve moved on to establish their city with its own zip code elsewhere, or because of magnificent training?

There’s a life lesson in all this somewhere, right? Can anyone distill it into a sentence for me?? Put it in the comments section. Most useful answers will win one of my books ( I have at least one copy of most of them here) signed and mailed to them–winners’ choice of book! Any one you want (provided I have it).

I’ll be back next month, too, with news of the next book coming Aug. 6th.

Watch Cassie Here: cassie-swimming

31 Responses to The Dog’s News

    • Oh! I didn’t think of asking for a word. Well, it’s true enough, and I suspect dog people relate! It’s just our default setting.) Thank you for this!

    • Ugh. Not again. The trainer pointed out that he was mostly training US. I, of course, managed to find that rather insulting! Especially when he insinuated that some students are quick to learn and fortunately our dog is quite bright. Can’t remember if that was just before or just after the suspicious price increase…

  1. Imagine the joy you’ll find if you live your life with a fraction of the exuberance your precious pets do. (Loving these posts)

    • This is a good one, Sally! I admit, on rainy, swampy days when Cassie is unavoidably mud-covered at least to her knees with splatters on chest, belly, butt and tail, I do not come within twenty football fields of matching her exuberance. I need to work on that. You make an excellent point.

    • Excellent! You know that bromide about laughter being the best medicine…well, some cliches carry a lot of truth, right? Glad you laughed!

  2. Go9d for you for not giving up on Cassie. I have earlier this year got a puppy. Her name is Rosie who is a Pomeranian. She is 7 months old still chewing our throw rugs. She can be a sweetie with us but at times she becomes a tyrant and bites the hand playing with her. She is always loving to any person or baby she meets (we watch and wished she would be that way with us all the time). She is getting exercise and dog classes. I am retired and now think it’s a good thing. She loves going for car rides and going to the dog park. Wishing you were here to help me with my dog!

    • Oh gosh! Rosie sounds like a handful of puppy. I imagine the classes will help! Remember that–as Debra points out in her comment here–“A tired dog is a good dog.” If she plays well with other dogs, that’s a big bonus and should wear her out well. Meanwhile, your task is to keep up with the classes, maybe, if you can afford it, pay for a few private lessons with the trainer and get good advice on handling the occasional hand biting (which does sound like puppy behavior but you probably want a positive way to correct it, right?) and consider your ultimate goal: survive Rosie’s puppyhood with your sanity relatively intact. Yes, you can! She’s still a baby and already know you’re the safe people she can act out with–she doesn’t pull that crap with strangers. This is going to get so much better!

  3. We all have our moments to shine. If our parents are patient and loving, we find and jump into what we were born to do, splashing into our best life.

    • This is great! I might add, …If our parents are patient, loving, plus have IQ points and sanity to spare, we find…etc. With this small addition, what you’ve composed is perfect!

  4. Whenever you think your furbaby won’t ever become the companion you hoped for…have patience.blink, turn around and before you know it, they are in your heart forever…
    * I know this first hand…3 months ago adopted a 13 month old feral rescue ……(she was caught at just several weeks old and fostered to become socialized)…1st two weeks never saw her (hid under our sofa where we sat!) but she did come out after we went to bed to eat, drink and use litter box…then very slowly allowed me to watch her as I lay on the floor and she peaked out! Then slow paw touching, then bit by bit she made us her humans and now jumps up next to me for a neck scratch etc…talks to me when she wants her dinner and sashays around her home depositing fuzzy mice everywhere!

    • Oh, this is a truly lovely story! What a lucky kitty to have found her way to a true forever home and her own people! And your life lesson is quite true, although at the time that “blink, turn around,” time period feels like a decade or two…

  5. When a friend brings you a ball and drops it at your feet and looks at you with curious expectation, don’t just stand there waiting to be barked at (and then complain with a “Shush!”) – bend and bow and throw the ball! It’s not a game of tease or power, it’s an intimate conversation you’re lucky to be invited into.

    OR, When you feel like eating the furniture, try taking a swim instead.

    • I’m going with your second offering since it’s one sentence, and re: your first suggestions. Trust me, there’s nothing “intimate” about a barkfest that can drown out the chainsaw a neighbor is using to cut up a fallen tree next door. Not feeling terribly lucky to be invited into that particular conversation. BUT, as I said, we’re working on it! 🙂

  6. You are such a good writer. No surprise. You’ve written a hilarious love letter to all the dog owners who have a dog like Cassie. It’s also a testament to patience and the willingness to try a variety of fixes. As trainers often say, a tired dog is a good dog. Seeing her take to the water like she was born into it, makes me happy. It makes me remember what it’s like to have a wet, muddy dog trot into the house every day. Yes, I remember the expensive Karastan wool rug that went to the trash. Walks in the bitter cold and the blistering sun. Walks when I didn’t feel like it but went anyway because of that look like the one in this photo. But most of all, I remember seeing my cast-off shelter dog’s joy and how it spilled over and how I carried it with me always.

    • Oh, I love how you understand every bit of this, having been through it. And again. And again. Thank you!

  7. Love to read how Cassie has become a super swimmer! Remember when Al went all the way in to save our just welcomed lab from a scary back eddy and your dog joining in the drama by going over the falls too? That only ruined his wallet, shoes and whatever else-but Alan saying repeatedly “I an ok” as he hung on to a floating log.Never seen that much water there since that happened! Lots of doggie memories we have shared!!

    • Yes, of course I remember! Was Alan’s phone in his pocket, too? But he saved Roxie, who survived the waterfall just fine but didn’t–in those initial days home with you–look like much of a swimmer. Little did we know. Then, of course, Scout had to show that he, too, could go over the falls just fine and show up Roxie just fine by swimming to shore with no help, thank you very much. That must have been the start of their endless competition: the boy Lab vs. the girl Lab, yellow Lab vs. yellow Lab.

    • I love how we authors stick up for each other. In this case, thank you for omitting the possibility that we are simply slightly crazier than Cassie and have had the 8 month outlast power of two humans vs. one puppy…
      Thank you so much for your loyalty!

  8. I suspect Cassie has been telling you and maybe you aren’t listening in “dog”.
    She is, I’m sure, delighted that you finally took her where she can show you. Humans can be difficult to train in “dog speak”

    • Well, okay, sure, but she could have made a bit more effort to speak clearly. In all fairness to us, it’s not like she ever jumped into the bathtub at home to demonstrate what she wanted…

  9. I already told you last time you’re a great writer who’s never better than when she writes about dogs. As for a lesson, I can’t add anything special to the wisdom you and your readers have expressed. I will say this, though — you’ve clearly refuted the lesson once proffered by W. C Fields: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then give up. No use being a damn fool about it.”

    • Oh, Preston! I love that quote. It actually is quite excellent, except that it should perhaps read, “…try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, etc……….again. Then consider your options and if you don’t mind being a damn fool too much, try again.” Apparently I’ve paid much better attention to Elizabeth Warren, the heroine about whom Mitch McConnell, the turtle himself, so bitterly complained, when he said, “And yet, she persisted.” (Isn’t that what we writers do to survive? Persist.)
      Thank you for reading!!

      • Thanks for the laughter and the wisdom in your response, Lynne! And thank you, Elizabeth, wherever you are, for your persistence. As for you, Mitch, wherever you are — I only wish you were where I wish you were, but that’s where you’re going to end up, I promise you, if there’s any justice in the Universe.

  10. What a treat, Lynne. I now understand what a treasure Cassidy is and how much you and Alan love her. Thanks for this. It was the perfect way to start my day and have a laugh with my first cup of coffee. I keep chuckling over the “running four foot jump-on landing.” ☕️❤️

    • Oh, thank you for this, Dana! Were you at our old former “Wired Puppy” this morning? If so, how is it? Or have you found a new coffee site? Eager to know what awaits me this fall! Any of the old baristas around? I’m surprised a coach such as yourself didn’t come up with a one-sentence lesson for me from Cassidy’s misadventures…You’d be great at that!

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