There is a saying in the Bible, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” (I’m probably paraphrasing it …it’s been a while since I read the Bible.) The point is, everyone needs incentive to do or not to do things and Gus is no exception. At three years old and being the “only child”, Gus has the run of the house, and he does just that; from the time I wake up, until I go to bed, Gus thinks it’s all about him. It isn’t so bad up-north, but at home, well, he can be a pain in the ass.
Gus isn’t mean, but he can be testy. He’s very protective, especially when “She Who Must Be Obeyed” walks him on a leash. If anyone gets too close to her – dog or human – he growls. He does the same thing if another dog enters his yard. He doesn’t do it if he’s off the leash at the dog park or in the field hunting. He’s a typical little guy with a Napoleon complex. (My apologies to the smaller readers.)
Gus obeys better when he thinks it’s his idea. He has this ten second clock in his head that drives me crazy. I think he actually processes a command, it’s like he’s making up his mind whether or not he wants to do what he’s told. The exception is if it’s something he wants to do. So, you can see, there are times when it becomes a test of wills …and that’s where the “rod”, or in Gus’ case the slipper – a size 11 Ugg, to be precise, comes in – just my reaching for it gets his attention and lets us come to a fresh understanding. No hard feelings: within minutes, we’re buds again.
Like a kid, as he gets older, he figures out how to play the game. The other day he brought me his favorite squeaky toy and wanted me to play. I tossed it to him a couple of times and had enough. When I told him to take a break, he brought the toy and dropped it in my lap. When I told him again to take a break, he half yelped, and half barked. Every time I told him to stop, he barked and yelped louder, like he was trying to shout me down. Finally, I reached down as though I was going to remove my slipper. He looked right at me, as though to say, “go ahead, I dare you.
“What else could I do but throw the toy again.