36: Bamboozled!

36: Bamboozled!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Bamboozled!

The first rule in successful dog training is to be smarter than the dog. Which is why some breeds are easier to train than others.

~Author Unknown

Not long after moving to the big city on my own, I decided to adopt a puppy. I set out to find an apricot-colored Teacup Poodle and convinced my then neighbor—now my husband—to drive me to the home of the breeder I’d found. This lady had several puppies ready to go.

As I stepped inside her home, a wee bundle of curly fur streaked across the floor, jumped into my arms and licked my face nonstop. She wasn’t a puppy; she wasn’t the colour I wanted, but neither detail mattered. It was love at first kiss.

For the first few months after I brought Pixie home, she seemed nervous, shy and—I must admit—not too bright. She didn’t know how to play or have any fun. She did manage to learn how to pee on the newspaper I’d set on the floor, after weeks of practice. Back and forth she’d go, from one room to the other, until she figured it out. I laughed and conceded that Pixie would never win awards for intelligence, but she was my “special girl” and, in part because of this, I loved her even more.

One day in late spring, not long after Pixie and I moved into Henry’s apartment with him and his twenty-four-pound black cat, Chaz, Pixie emerged from the bedroom all aflutter. She scratched the floor and wagged her tail in a blur. I hoped this meant she’d discovered the new placement of her newspaper pee pad on a square of linoleum in the bedroom.

“Did you pee-pee on the paper?” I cooed. She wriggled and squirmed with delight, no doubt in anticipation of the treat she would receive for doing exactly what I wanted her to do. She followed me into the bedroom. I whispered so not to wake Henry, who was napping. “Good girl!” I petted her head, scooped her up and tiptoed to the kitchen cupboard for a chicken treat—Pixie’s favourite.

Less than twenty minutes had passed when Henry appeared holding the open treat tin. “She peed again,” he said.

It seemed like a lot of pee for such a little dog, but I shrugged and turned back to the book I was reading.

It took our newly formed family about six months to settle into a relatively predictable routine. One chilly day that December I gave Pixie a treat for doing her business and then settled in the living room to get some editing done. As huge snowflakes landed on the railing of our balcony, I heard Pixie at her water dish.

Soon after, Henry called out from the bedroom, “Susan?”

Henry chuckled under his breath. “Come here, would you?”

Really? “Okay, just a sec.” I set down my clipboard and pen and meandered toward the bedroom.

Henry whispered, “Come quick!”

He leaned on one elbow and peered over the side of the bed. Chaz sat curled by Henry’s knee, the cat’s gaze focused on the square of linoleum. And on the floor, next to the newspaper, stood Pixie. As she hunched forward with her nose held high, water dripped from the hair on her chin directly onto the paper in a perfectly round puddle. After the last droplet landed, she peered up at me with a look that could melt the coldest of hearts.

“Has she been going to her water dish all this time? Do you mean that we’ve . . .?”

Henry sat up and laughed. “Yup.” He lifted her from the floor, cradled her in the palm of his hand against his chest and spoke into the top of her head. “Not so slow after all, are you Pix?” She licked the stubble on his cheek.

“You’ve got to be kidding!”

Pixie had been duping us both for months, and reaping double treats for the effort.

We’d been conned. Swindled. Bamboozled by a six-pound tiny Toy Poodle!

I vowed, “Never again.”

Still cradled securely in the crook of Henry’s elbow, my special girl stared over the puddle-marked newspaper at me with a twinkle in her eye and—no kidding—she smirked.

~Susan Blakeney

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