The nights are beginning to fade into fall and daylight has hit the road by 7:00pm lately. Lounging in the backyard with the dogs is where I spent the remaining hour of lightness after getting home from work tonight. A pocketful of treats as I stared into the chocolate drop eyes of Tristan standing in front of me, looking very perplexed as I held the treat up and said the word “sit”. We have tried this before on occasion and for whatever reason he could not force himself to take the chance on the task, even for a tasty reward. Tully, Maggie and Tristan all in a little semi circle gathered around me, as I held the treat up to Maggie, making sure Tristan was looking her way. “Sit” and without any hesitation she quickly sits as her little nub of a tail is wagging feverishly, “Good Sit” I praise as she takes her reward. Tully can barely contain himself as he circles about, and while I already know the outcome, I hold the treat up and give the command “sit”. Tully in a very deliberate move, with total confidence..backs up. I try the command again “sit” and four more steps backwards he goes. I don’t know where it all went wrong with Tully but my special boy backs up when he hears the word sit. (Tristan, don’t look at him!) I toss Tully his treat and focus on Tristan, I hold the treat up and say “sit”, he looks at me with a blank stare, I repeat the word again and once more I find myself looking into his concerned face. We go through it all again, and Maggie sits perfectly and I praise her loudly, Tully eagerly backs up proud as a peacock as I shake my head and toss him the treat as I turn back around to Tristan. Again nothing but on the third try, Maggie sits, Tully backs up and I look at Tristan and hold the treat up and give the command to sit and there is a pause in which I can tell he is really thinking about it, then with the slightest of movements he lowers himself into the most perfect downward facing dog you have ever seen. Butt up in the air, tail wagging and his paws stretched out on the ground. He is looking up at me begging for praise, so like the nutty family we are I loudly praised him as he gently took his reward from my hand “Good downward facing dog, buddy!” I can’t imagine what the neighbors think of me. We did it two more times, and again he would lower himself each time I said the word sit, it’s a start and as they always say, getting started is the hardest part!
It was only a few months ago that Tristan began taking treats from my hand, when I offered them to him. For almost two years he refused and would only take a treat if you placed it next to him and did not make eye contact while he ate. Sometimes he would not eat the treat until after I left the room, finally Tully wised up to a free for all treat and that persuaded Tristan to at least eat them in a timely manner. This is a huge step for him, others might look at this as a failure, or not a perfect command but for Tristan this is quite an accomplishment. We will work on it again tomorrow and I will try to get some video if I can, and who knows maybe Tristan can teach Tully a thing of two along the way!