Charlie Bear here with Post #3 on Sharing My Story.
If I could go back in time, and if I knew then what I know now…well, I’d probably do things differently. But there are some things I wouldn’t change, not for the world.
Like when I got here to live, there was this big dog named Rex.
He ruled the place. Like he owned it or something. Of course, he did, and I was just a newbie with spitfire in my eyes and turmoil in my tummy. But he took it all in stride. Heck, he was used to living with cats for crying out loud. Stealth, head-rubbing, voiceful, demanding furballs. One needed insulin shots twice a day, the other hid in the closet whenever the front door opened and someone new came in.
Rex didn’t let anything affect him. He was as cool as a zucchini. I learned a bunch of stuff from him, so let’s talk about what those things are (because this was #2 that you, my loyal readers, wanted to hear about: what I learned from my mentor).
October 2010 to June 2011
If you count ’em, that would be nine months. Kind of like birthing a baby, which is what that big dog did for me…he showed me how to come into this new world I had been adopted into.
First, he taught me how to listen. When Rex heard his name, he paid attention. Mom Peep always said his name and then what she wanted him to do. I wondered why, but then realized that there is so much chatter going on that I really don’t need to pay attention to. But then there are times Mom or Dad Peep are talkin’ to me! So they do this: Charlie Bear, let Dad up. Or Charlie Bear, come for breakfast. Or Charlie Bear, down. Or Charlie, inside. When Rex was asked to do something, he did it. And so I learned to do it too.
Second, he taught me to only speak when necessary. Rex had the deepest bark ever. I mean it scared me and Mom to pieces when he let loose a good one. But he never did it unless it was necessary (okay, when he was in the car and saw a dog on the street he barked as we went by…but that’s just dog-stuff and normal for us), otherwise, he only barked when he had to. Someone at the door he didn’t know? He barked. If he knew them, he wagged his tail and kept silent. A cat on the block wall in the backyard? The first time, he barked a warning: Hey, this is my yard. After that, he nonchalantly walked around the yard and let them have their perch. I learned to mimic him and only bark when I have to. Intruders beware: this is my yard now!
Third, he taught me to go to bed on schedule. Rex loved his room (Mom’s home office). It held his big bed, a sofa to spread out on, comfy blankets and a cool tile floor. At 7:30 he’d walk into his room and put himself to bed. Just like that. No fuss, no bother. Seems Mom and Dad like to sleep in their own bed and gave Rex his own entire room. Cool. Now it’s my room and I love it. I have my crate without a door on it that I love to snuggle in, a small sofa, warm blankets, and that cool tile floor. I don’t usually walk in at 7:30 and go to bed like he did, but Mom has this little “find it” game we play. She cuts up a treat into teeny pieces, calls out find it to me and I follow her into my room where she tosses the treats all around. I search for my treats while she leaves and puts up the plastic barrier across the door, just like she used to for Rex. Now Rex (and even me) could barrel right through that plastic (it’s actually a desk blotter that fits across the doorway perfectly), but we don’t. I know Dad and Mom can look over it to see me, I have air circulating, and there’s no need to push at my boundaries when I know that barrier is coming down first thing in the morning when they get up.
Fourth, he taught me to ride nicely in the car. Rex always had the left side of the back seat. I now have the right. He never tried to jump up front, he never climbed into the back. He always sat right in his spot and if Dad opened his window a little, he’d stick his nose out and sniff the air. I do one thing he didn’t do: I put my paws up on the armrest of the rear door and stick my nose all the way up to sniff the air from the open window, the breeze blowing my ears and fur. Of course, Rex didn’t need no stinkin’ armrest to reach the breeze. Now, I could easily try to jump into the front, or whine or cry for someone to hold me on their lap, but I don’t. I know my place in the back and if for some reason Mom puts me in her car on the front passenger seat I stay right there on that side, never moving over. I think if you wanted to teach your doggie to stay on one side or in the back, I’d use treats and tell him “good boy” every time he behaved well in the car (you might need a passenger to work with your furry friend while you are driving).
Fifth, he taught me how to wait for food. Rex never demanded his food. And I don’t either. He also never demanded people food from the dinner table. That was hard for me to learn. It smells so good! But he would lie down near the table and wait, and he was almost always rewarded (unless it was something too spicy or not good for him). Now, I do that too. If Mom sees me fussing a bit she’ll tell me: Charlie, down. I’ll drop to the floor and then she gives me the hand signal to wait. Eventually (much too long in my estimation), she’ll put some nuggets in my food bowl in the kitchen. But what about drive-thru fast food? Do you know In ‘n Out burger joints? They have the best cheeseburgers ever, and Dad loves to give me little pieces. I don’t bark, I don’t try to climb to the front or get into his cardboard tray perched on the center console between us filled with fries. I just lay down on my seat in the back and stay quiet (salivating the entire time). He sees me acting like a good boy, and he breaks off a piece of meat and puts it in front of me. I gobble it up and wait silently for more. If any of you know if In ‘n Out burger joints are in anything other than western states, let me know in case we ever take a long road trip.
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There’s so much more I could tell you to wrap up #2 on what I have learned from big dog Rex, but we’ll leave it at that.
Next time we’ll talk about #3: tips on how to love a difficult dog (like me)…really?
Wiggles and Woofs,
It’s not too late for you to join in. Share with us your rescue/adoption story along with your pet’s photograph. Send via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story and photo could be featured at the end of an upcoming Charlie Bear post.
We look forward to hearing from you. And please tell us if any of these big dog mentor things make sense to you or your furry friend.