Did you ever watch someone interact with their dog and think, “I wish my dog behaved like that.”
Growing up, my Uncle and his Golden Retriever, Rose, set that type of example for me.
“Hey Rose,” he’d say nonchalantly from his chair at the kitchen table.
Rose would run to him, standing in front of him with a smile on her face.
“Rose, why don’t you get your baby,” he’d tell her.
She’d look around the room for her stuffed animal and, not finding it, she’d return to my Uncle.
“I told you to get your baby Rose,” he’d say. “Did you leave it in the hallway?”
Rose would trot down the hallway, checking for her baby. She’d return again, not finding it.
“Well Rose, where’s your baby at?” he’d tease. “Go look in the living room.”
Again, Rose would make her way down the hallway. Finding her baby in living room, she’d scoop it up and run proudly back to my Uncle.
My Uncle never seemed to give Rose a command. He was always just having a conversation with her, and she listened. The way she understood my Uncle was uncanny.
Coming from a family of avid hunters, Rose was naturally trained as a bird dog and my cousins and I were frequently taken out for walks in the woods.
This was what Rose lived for. She loved being out in the woods, and my Uncle never used a leash for her. Rose would let her nose lead her far off the trail, and I’d start to worry about her after a few minutes went by without a glimpse of her.
But my Uncle never worried. He’d let out one whistle, and Rose would appear in a split second, running to him with a smile on her face.
She was always smiling at my Uncle, just happy for him to cast a glance her way.
The way the two of them seemed to converse and understand eachother was what I wanted in a dog. I’ve tried hard to accomplish that with Sensi. I’ve learned, along the way, that it’s not all about training a dog to respond to commands.
It’s more about the bond cultivated between a dog and his owner. While training helps, it’s just one small piece of the puzzle.