62: Precious Punishes Herself

62: Precious Punishes Herself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Precious Punishes Herself

Fun fact: Dogs can understand, on average, up to sixty words or phrases, although some can understand up to 300 words.

Precious, our black Lab-Shepherd-Chow mix, showed us early on that she was oozing with personality and intelligence. As a puppy, she figured out how to unzip her bed and how to drop a ball down the stairs to play fetch with herself. She recognized the need to make noise (drop-catching a ball, continually squeaking a toy) to get attention, and seemingly understood more than basic commands and words.

She knew that if she was a “good girl” while we were at work, she would get a special treat when “Mommy” came home. One day, I came home, and noting the trashcan was still in its usual position, assumed she had been good. I promptly handed her a treat. I was a little surprised that she initially wouldn’t take it, and then did so only with my encouragement. Then she lay down uncharacteristically in the hall with the treat in front of her. I remember thinking that perhaps she wasn’t feeling well and figured I’d keep an eye on her.

I headed out the other side of the kitchen and found trash strewn about the dining room. I couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust, and said, “Oh-ho… so somebody really wasn’t a good girl after all.” I thought, too late now, she already has the treat, and went to change clothes after picking up the mess.

After changing, I sat down on the couch to begin grading papers. A few moments later, Precious came into the living room, walked up to me, and placed her uneaten treat on my lap. Then she backed away and sat with her head down in shame. I sat there stunned — I couldn’t believe it! She knew she didn’t deserve the treat, and so she returned it.

Of course, with that demonstration of shame, I had to let her have the treat, though it took quite a bit of coaxing and letting her know I forgave her. After that, I don’t think she ever bothered the trash again!

~Catherine D. Crocker

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