One Trick Pony

Both YA and I love to spend time at the Pet Pavilion and Dog Meet/Greet booths at the Fair.  The other place we always hit is the Stunt Dog Show that features dog dock diving as well as some trick dog demonstrations.  It’s amazing to me what they have taught these dogs to do.

I’ve had dogs my entire life but for most of that time, I didn’t think much about tricks.  All my dogs went to basic obedience but the basics for me have always been sit, down, come and off.  Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience.  YA’s dog, Guinevere (who has issues) has been to a LOT of obedience, mostly just to have her around other dogs and people.  Because of this we’ve managed to teach her some tricks (roll over, double dance, shake, high five, bark) along with the basics.

Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience with any of our dogs so “tricks” is outside of my experience, although one of my dogs as a kid was really smart.  Princess (named by me when I was 5) was a shepherd collie mix who came to us as a small puppy.  My mom and sisters and I started to call her Princess the Wonder Dog after she was gone because my father’s stories about her just got wilder and more inventive.  He used to tell folks that she was so intelligent that when he told her to go get his slippers, she would run upstairs and come down with them.  Of course the only problem with that story was that my dad never wore slippers in his life!

Princess did actually know one trick.  If you had her sit and stay, you could put a treat on her nose; she would sit patiently until you said “OK” and then she would deftly toss the treat up a bit and then catch it.  We didn’t ask her to do this much, but she could do it – no exaggeration from my dad needed.  So when the elementary school that my middle sister and I were attending had a family fair with a pet contest, Sally (said sister) really wanted to enter Princess and have her do her one trick.

Sally, who was in the 3rd grade, practiced with Princess for several days before the fair.  She packed up bologna, a really high value treat; she was convinced that Princess would win hands down.  When the time came for Princess to strut her stuff, there were a lot of people, a lot of other dogs and she was nervous.  Sally dutifully had her sit, stay and then put the bologna on her nose.  Sally stepped back and it didn’t take long for Princess to jump back, drop the bologna on the ground and then promptly scoop it up and chow it down.  Sally was absolutely mortified.  I can still hear her say in her trembling angry voice “bad dog, bad dog”.  Princess hung her head in shame.  Sally never volunteered her to do that trick every again.

Have you ever had a pet with a good trick?

44 thoughts on “One Trick Pony”

  1. i had a lab basset who had that basset bark
    i really didn’t like the bark
    i got him when i was 16 and thought it was to expect a dog to do tricks so he just grew up being my companion with no rules. when he was about 10 i decided to deal with the bark. i had to set up a working model so i taught him to sit , stay, lay down and shake hands. when he got this stuff down and i knew he was ready for it i instructed him to bark and rewarded him with peanut m&ms.
    it was a signal that started with all your fingers and your thumb forming that birds beak and i would face that toward the dog and make the fingers explode open and give the command bark. it was like hellen keller in the miracle worker to get him to understand it but once he did it was a kick. you could see him realize that the sign and command conjured up the bark but it took weeks to get it to be part of the deal naturally

    finally when he got it and i could command him to bark i was able to say no bark when he would bark at times when he’d bark and i’d want him to stop

    still had the sit stay shake and lay down in his bag of tricks but didn’t have much use for them
    i’d pull them out every now and again just because he’d like to show off but it was not part of our regular routine but i did get to ask him to stop barking regularly

    no bark … with the exploding fingers and he’d look at me because he really wanted to continue barking but understood that we had a deal. i didn’t ask a lot and what i did choose to ask was that he stop the damn barking.
    he got it and would stop

    good dog

    last fistful of dogs have gone through my version of obedience training (i am quite the alpha) but no tricks

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love the thought of the emotion behind that “stop the damn barking.” Jane’s little dogs have two different barks. One is funny and endearing. The other one is not.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The best doggie trick I’ve encountered was something I dare not describe in this space. I had a weird friend named Charlie long ago. His dog was a fat Lab called Schultz (named after the Hogan’s Heroes character??). Charlie taught Schultz just one trick. It wasn’t the dog’s fault that the trick was obscene. Neither was it the fault of Charlie’s son. All he knew was that when Schultz did his trick, all the people laughed uproariously. When his second grade teacher asked kids to bring in something for Show-and-Tell, the kid brought Schultz to school and gave him his cue.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My budgie, Port, “dunks” “basketballs”.
    The hoop is at beak height. There is zero levitation.
    The balls are wooden with a hole in them to make grasping possible.
    Thus far, Port is the only one of the four who will perform.

    I’m hoping for this scene in a few years.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. RIse and Shine Baboons,

    OT: I am back from the Big Birthday party Saturday. My mother is officially 93 years old and not that glad to be alive. Her nursing home got her a pink tiara and a sash that said “Birthday Princess” which she did not want to wear. Mom got mad at my sister for asking her to pose for a picture and called her a “little sh**.” This situation is emotionally grinding. However, I had a great time with my siblings and we were all introduced to my niece’s partner in person. She recently came out to the family, and the family made me proud. No one even blinked an eye, and everyone made her partner welcome.

    Meanwhile, we had a dog, Coco the run away Rat Terrier who could count how many fingers her human held up. My son taught her this one, and it was a very popular trick.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. So sorry about your problems, Jacque. Several of my family members over the years (myself included I suppose) have been kind of recalcitrant at getting along together. But I won’t pretend to think that I know how you feel. Only you can.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tricks for farm dogs just means they were good at rounding up cattle.
    We were never real good at training them, we just expected them to know I guess… that’s how Dad seemed to do it.
    Zack was an Australian English Shepard. He was a good cattle dog; he just knew what to do. And he’d get in there and nip at their hoofs to keep them moving. And if they kicked him, man, did that make him mad and he’d just get in there that much more. He could catch mice and rats and I’d have him in the corn crib with me.

    We had Maggie; she was a black lab and someone had adopted her and was half-way to Mexico before someone there said “No you’re not!”, but they had taught her to sit and lay down in Spanish. She was our bi-lingual dog. And she was a really good dog.

    Humphrey knows how to give me his foot when I’m wiping off his paws. “Foot” and “Other Foot”.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I had eight dogs all told, over about twenty years. I hardly trained any of them to do any damn thing at all, and probably wasn’t the most popular member of local society, despite my ready smile and anxiousness to be helpful. They were all nice dogs though.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I haven’t seen how they are doing it, but the squirrels are climbing up the spindly hazelnut branches in our back yard and harvesting the nut clusters. I saw one running along the top of the fence with nuts in his mouth yesterday. A Bluejay was shrieking at him.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Our Welsh Terriers were such characters, and had I known what I was doing, I could have taught them tricks. I want one in retirement to lavish time and energy on in terms of training.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve had a couple of cats trained to jump down off the kitchen counter every time I walked into the room…

    I’ve told of how son Joel would get in full camo to hunt squirrels in our back 40 with his bb gun – he’s position Charlie the Cat at the base of the big tree, and if he grazed the squirrel and if tell, Charlie would finish the job. Kind of grim, but he wrote it up like a newspaper article, complete with photos that I took, and it was pretty funny.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I once made the mistake of complimenting my rancher friend Larry for training his dog, a blue heeler that worked cattle. When Larry drove south from his garage, the dog hopped into the truck bed so he could help handle the cattle. But if Larry drove north from the garage, the dog stayed where it was because that was the way to town. Larry was offended by the idea he would waste time training an animal. He was a macho guy who was too busy for something silly like dog training. But when he was displeased, Larry could roar with great effect, and that’s how the dog learned to recognize those times when his services would be needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We acquired a border collie when I was 6. Nice family pet. No interest in livestock, shunned the woods. After about 6 months our neighbor Floyd who lived 1/4 mile away acquired a border collie which looked just like the one we had. He kept running away to our place because of the cattle. Floyd and his wife were separating, so we just switched dogs. When they moved, the house was abandoned. Leaving us 3/4 of a mile from any neighbor.
      Boots/Pepper/Butterdag was not yet 2, maybe barely 1. I doubt anyone taught him anything about herding, instinct I assume. We taught him “sic’m” and “stop/no”. My father taught him to sit up and to beg. My brother taught him to play dead and the treat on the nose trick. I taught him to walk on two legs. He was easy to teach, had a strong desire to please. He tended to all the livestock. Checked on calves and pigs when we fed them. Decided the chickens could not come too near the house and pushed them back with bark and gestures. Did not approve of ducks. The year we had rabbits he wanted to mother them, well, father them. Liked cats when not being petted by one of us. Riding in the pickup was a joy ride or we were taking him to help with someone else’s animals. He could tell which by my father’s demeanor.

      Liked by 4 people

  11. Larry, my friend who was insulted by my suggesting he “trained” dogs, often told the story of a time he got careless and was pinned against a fence by an angry cow. He said his dog saved his life that day. (Free range cattle are feral and not friendly.) Like Clyde’s border collie, Larry’s dog picked up his education by paying attention to the “lead dog” of the pack, learning while doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Our daughter’s best friend had a cattle ranch in the Badlands. They once got a new herding dog that had been trained to herd sheep. The first time Teddy went to work, he did what a good sheep dog does and drove the sheep toward the rancher. Cattle dogs are supposed to herd the cattle away from the rancher. The cattle went through a fence before they got the turned around. Teddy didn’t take long to learn what direction the cows should go.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dad got a new job when I was nine or ten. There was a nice old Sheepdog called Nell, who did get used to bring the cows towards us. No aggression needed, they’d come anyway, they just needed for Nell to say it was time. She’d shoot off across the field, then find herself in a dip (the same one every day), and couldn’t see the cows any more. She’d stand there looking about, puzzled, till you got over there and convinced her to try again. The farm was sold a few years later, but she came and lived her life out with us. A good old friend by then.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Our newest dog, Bailey, is about 2 years old now; she’s 1/2 Blue Heeler and is a really good watch dog. But when she was about 6 months old, we’re pretty sure the other two dogs ‘set-her-up’ to tangle with a raccoon. So she’s pretty skittish about actually ‘engaging’ with anything until she has back up, but she’ll alert us something is out there.

    The neighbors who have cattle here got a puppy this spring. Louie is an Australian English Shepard; reminds me a lot of our Zack. Neighbor doesn’t like to leave him home when he comes to check cattle so he brings Louie in the truck with him. But then Louie doesn’t like being left alone in the truck either, so now he’s got a twine string tied to his collar and neighbor takes Louie with him to check the cattle.
    I think both dog and neighbor are unwittingly being trained.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. OT: My favorite band, the New Orleans retro jazz group Tuba Skinny, will tour the Midwest this year. I just learned they will perform at the Dakota at 7 PM on September 22. They mostly play hot jazz from the 20s and 30s: Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, Memphis Minnie and that sort of thing. The Dakota is a class act, and Tuba Skinny is amazingly popular with its many fans. It’s sure to be a great evening.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. Maybe I should say more. In recent years I’ve had to give up most of my pleasures in life. Attending a live musical performance was the easiest to relinquish. Giving up any chance to be “in nature” was much harder, and losing photography was a bitter thing. But this is the way it goes for older folks. What I’ve lost makes me enjoy what I still have–such as email–all the more.

          Liked by 3 people

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