Yesterday I spent the day in San Diego teaching. Lyra was left in the care of my husband for twenty-four hours. I wasn’t worried; he’s really taken to Lyra, and goes out of his way to take her places and to spend time with her.
That did not take away from my shock when I came home last night. My husband took a piece of cheese out of the refrigerator, called Lyra with a cheerful “come come come” command and then used the cheese to help her into a rock back sit (sit, sit, sit), roughly in “front” position. He then gave her the cookie, handed out copious praise, and let me know that she had already learned to offer that sit in front instead of jumping on him.
This was a moment I had not yet considered. No one in my house has ever shown any interest in “training” my dogs. They use commands to get them to do things (come, go, stay, etc.) to make it easier to live with them, but this was Training.
In exactly five seconds, I needed to formulate a response.
My family has never shown any real interest in the dogs. They like them most of the time, but let’s face it; sometimes it’s hard to live in a house with dogs that slavishly worship one person. If I stand up, they stand up. If I walk through the house, they walk through with me. It is not peaceful when the dogs think we are going to do something interesting. It is….lively. For the most part, my family just tries to stay out of the way.
My husband has taken to Lyra. He really likes her, like he hasn’t liked any of my dogs since our first Belgian fifteen years ago. I think he wants a doggy buddy, and Lyra fits the bill. She’s calm, good natured, and isn’t always biting. She listens when you tell her to stop doing things. She’s loving and affectionate.
So I guess it’s natural that he wants to teach his pet dog a few things, and he’s watched me train enough dogs over the years that he has a rudimentary grasp on the basics.
So, as I watched him train Lrya….I said nothing. My heart beat a little faster, but her quality of life will be infinity richer if she is loved by more people than just me. Someday I’ll teach a new command to mean “sit here in front and be dead straight with your toes two inches from mine”. And it will be ok. In exchange, she can be a family pet.
Admitedly I hoped he’d lose interest quickly in training, but this morning as I lay in bed, I heard “sit, sit!” coming from the kitchen.