55: Park

55: Park

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Park

To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.

~George Kneller

Princess, the Great Dane-Boxer-German Shepherd mutt, was a loveable though often exasperating dog who joined our family at the age of three years. She was the eternal puppy, and kept us all entertained on a regular basis.

Say the word “park” to her, and she would go nuts. Jumping high into the air, she would do a little semi-spin and touch down on her hind feet. Enthusiastic could not begin to describe the utter joy she felt at the prospect of going to the park. It was actually an open field we took her to, but what did she know? To Princess, the word meant going for a ride in the car, which she loved, and being able to run freely through the field when she got there. In short, it meant good times.

Before we even pulled up in front of the sacred ground, Princess would begin to hyperventilate, running wildly back and forth on the back seat in anticipation of her freedom. Once her eager paws hit the dirt, she was gone. The last thing we would see is her streaking toward the deep brush located at the far end of the field, her tail wagging triumphantly; there, she would disappear from sight.

The real problem always came when it was time to leave. If we called her name she would come, maybe. More often than not, we would have to go in search of her while calling out another key word in her vocabulary: treat.

Many well-trained dogs respond to the command “come.” Ours only responded to “treat.” I carried a supply of her favorites in my pocket for departure time, knowing that by whipping one out at the necessary moment, I could coax her into the car.

One day, on one of our customary outings, we were having an especially difficult time getting Princess into the car to go home. For whatever reason, I had forgotten to bring along the essential bait, which not only left me “treatless” but powerless as well.

Without the treats, I had nothing as valuable to Princess as the park. All of the pleading and coaxing could not get her into that car. Suddenly, in the midst of my frustration, an idea struck me. I shouted with all the enthusiasm I could muster, “Do you want to go to the PARK?” The fool jumped right in.

Although we still chuckle over that one, Princess has never fallen for that trick again.

~Nancy Ilk

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