Since I never had a dog of my own as a kid, I was quick to latch on to other kid’s dogs.
The other kids never seemed too interested in their dogs. I’d always try to incorporate their dog into whatever game we were playing; they’d look at me strangely and yell at their dog to go lay down.
Fortunately, I had a cousin who lived nearby and liked having her dog Rose around.
Rose was a sweet tempered Golden Retriever who, like most goldens, was very food motivated. She’d do just about anything for a treat.
Armed with our little hands full of dog treats, my cousin and I would set up obstacle courses for Rose. We’d make her jump over stuff, army crawl on her belly under stuff ... it was bonafide kid-designed agility course. Only we didn’t focus so much on the agility as we did just getting her to do the different things.
Rose always obliged. She tried hard to figure out what we were asking her to do, and she never let us down. There were, after all, treats in our hands.
We were effectively using a positive reward training method, but as kids, we didn’t know that. In our eyes, we were just bribing her to do stuff and kept it us from boredom. I did learn, though, that it was a good way to train a dog — nevermind the terminology.
As much as I enjoyed my relationship with Rose, I always longed for the kind of relationship she had with my Uncle.
It was the way that my Uncle interacted with Rose that really set a precedent for me.
I wanted to have that type of bond with a dog. More than a decade later, I still haven’t forgotten that.
Read more about my Uncle and his dog tomorrow.