This is the time of year when I train less and less at home because it’s A) too cold outside B) too dark outside C) the squirrels have taken over the yard and they scare me. I try to go to the club building at least once a week and the rest of the time is spent doodling and working little things like fronts and finishes at home, either in the living room or in an empty upstairs bedroom. The Farmer says the cracks in the dining room ceiling are the result of this doodling. I think he is mistaken but there's no telling him that.
This is also the time of the year the dogs start driving me crazy because they’re spending too much time in the house. Usually in the evenings, after the supper dishes have been washed and I’m ready to settle down in my chair for a long winter’s nap, they get wound up and let ‘er rip. This manifests itself in a variety of ways which include, but are not limited to, climbing the walls (I am so not joking) and emptying the laundry hamper.
I finally decided Phoenix could learn to pick up his toys and put them away. We’d work up to returning purloined laundry to the hamper. I might as well have gone outside and tried to herd squirrels.
Phoenix knows how to mark and retrieve an object. He will deliver to hand. He will hold until asked to release the object. How hard could it be to get him to put his toys away in a small plastic tote?
One of these years I will quit asking questions like that.
Me (pointing at green ball): Get the ball.
Phoenix trots out of the room and returns with a blue ball.
Me: Okay. Whatever.
Phoenix: Throw the ball?
Me: No ball throwing in the house. Put it in the box.
Me: Because it’s a tidy thing to do. And this way no one trips over them in the middle of the night.
Phoenix: No, why no ball throwing in the house?
Me: Seriously? Our insurance guy still hasn’t gotten over the “a raccoon fell out of the garage rafters and broke the outside rear-view mirror off my van” claim. I am NOT explaining why there is a malinois-sized hole in the picture window.
Phoenix: You’re no fun.
Me (pointing to a Nylabone): Get the bone!
Phoenix trots out of the room and returns with a shoe.
Me: Look! Bone! Get it!
Phoenix drops shoe on my toe.
Me: %$#@! Look! Bone! Get it!
Phoenix brings back a Kong.
Me: Okay. Whatever. Put it in the box.
Phoenix drops the Kong in the box. It bounces off a ball, causing both to go ricocheting out of the box, narrowly missing the glass-front antique secretary.
Me: Bad Word.
Phoenix: You made me do that.
Me (teeth gritted): Look! Bone! Get it!
Phoenix fetches the Nylabone and stabs it into my leg.
Me: Ouch! $#@! Put it in the box.
Phoenix drops it. It misses the box.
Me: Try again.
Phoenix reaches in the box and flings out two balls and another Nylabone before I can stop him.
Me: Ack! No! You put things IN the box, not take them OUT!
Phoenix: You’re no fun.
Me (pointing at a toy): Get it!
Phoenix grabs the toy and gallops off with it. China rattles in the cupboard.
Jamie wanders through, picks up a bone, wanders off, drops the bone and goes back to sleep on the couch.
Phoenix gallops back, exchanges Toy A for Toy B and gallops off again. I have clearly lost control of this lesson.
Farmer (walking through the room on his way to bed, barefoot): You should teach that dog to pick up his toys.
Me: Watch out for the Nyla —
Farmer: OUCH! $#@!