Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning from Kincade or Fathead (whichever you'd prefer)

Meet Kincade.
Remember him? A friend of ours started calling him 'Fathead' last summer, and the name stuck. You can see why. He's our petite, 125 pound lapdog. Try breathing with that Monster (as E calls him) on your chest. I dare you, I double-dog dare you. He's sweet and friendly to a fault. Calling all burglars, this one will jump on you and welcome you as a friend. 'So glad to meet you, sit down, let me put my head on your lap,' that's what he'll be saying.

We've always known Bubba was smart (as SK calls him). He learned his name (s) in the first week. Understood how to use the dog-door in the first day, even though he was so little he could barely jump up and through it. He learned how to play keep-away far sooner than we'd have liked, too. And just about wound up in someone else's home as a result. He liked keeping away our socks, kitchen towels, the remotes, my cell-phone (s), paper, coins, rocks, just about anything he could put in his mouth.
Did I mention that the living area of our house has a circular flow and he learned that quickly, too?
It drove me crazy for a while.
He learned that Beve's answer for everything 
was "Treat, Kincade!"
Yep, he caught on to that one really quickly!
Did I mention that my answer (after the 4th crunched cell-phone) was to give him away?
At least that was my answer until he put his sweet, fat head on my chest again.

Cade (as J calls him) is a sweet, tender soul. Some might even call him a little too tender.
If our Jackson was an Alpha male, Kincade is a Zed male.
His favorite treat is fruit. In fact, it's impossible to eat fruit, without him in complete attendance, ever hopeful. Apples, oranges, grapes (yes, I know, they're not good for dogs, but HE doesn't know it!), cherries, watermelon, pineapple. But pears are his favorite. He'll practically climb the counters for pears.
But he'll take vegetables, if no fruit is available. 
He doesn't like electric cords (got mixed up in the Christmas tree lights when he was a puppy, and he has a long memory--who knows when they might reach out and strangle him again!).
He's also been terrified of cars. I mean, he wouldn't get into a car to save his life.
At least, I couldn't get his 125lbs in to save his life. When he was very small he had a traumatic experience with a full ice chest. It rolled onto its side and hurled 60 miles an hour toward him. He threw his body over the front seat onto mine and dove head-first between my legs, so his back end was in my face.
Come to think of it, it was a traumatic experience for me too.
I couldn't get him to move until we were safely home.
Ever since he's refused to get back into a car.

Kincadia (as I call him) is two now. And an amazing thing has happened in last few months. He now does practically ANYTHING I tell him to. I call him, he comes. He brings BACK whatever he's taken, like socks and underwear. He no longer steals the remote or touches my cell-phone, no matter where I leave it.
So one sunny day when I decided to teach him to lie down before throwing his ball for him, he caught on the first time. Then, just a few minutes later, I decided to teach him to stay. I walked around the whole yard and he just lay there watching me. 
First TIME.

THIS DOG is smart.
I mean, he's really, REALLY smart.

So, taking another chance, a few days ago I told him we were going for a ride in the car.While Jamaica (the Springer) was jumping and barking her enthusiasm, I put him on a leash, certain it would be a HUGE tug of war once we reached the car. UNcertain whether there would actually be a ride at all, but willing to give it the ol' college try.
But, again, he amazed me. He walked right out, didn't pull away but stood at the back of the Highlander, and lifted his paws for me to lift him in (for some reason he can't jump very well--which is kind of a drag, he's not so easy to lift).

Today (our 4th trip in the car) I didn't even use the leash. He knows the drill. Out the door, to the back of the car, waited for me to open it, lifted his paws, up he went. Like clockwork. Like he'd NEVER been scared. Later, when he stood up for a moment in the car, I told him to lie down, and he did
(something I never managed to get Jackson to do!).

As I was driving around with the dogs
I thought of how far we've come. I thought of how many times I was completely, utterly annoyed with him. He was such a rascal for so long. I thought I'd never get him trained. These days, he's a great dog, perhaps the best we've ever had (and if you know me, you'd know what I'm saying--I've had at least two other dogs that I loved so much it was like my heart was in them!). 

I just had to be patient, to not give up (and there were times when I thought he was too much for me).

It makes me glad today.

It also makes me think of the times when I've been such a rascal. A Fat Head, if you want to call me that.
It makes me think of the times when I was really, really hard to train, when I was playing keep away with God, doing my own thing, ripping up something He knew was valuable; or when I was afraid of something that was really only in my own imagination. He knew better. 
He knows better.
He loved me enough not to give up on me.
He waited me out.
He loves me right now just that much.

There are probably things right this moment that He's waiting me out on, things that I'm afraid of but don't need to be, things that I'm playing keep-away with--valuable things that HE understands far better than I do. But He loves me and He's present, and He's hanging in there, waiting to take me for my next ride.

That's my dog-day lesson.
Thanks, Fat-head (as Beve calls him).

You talking about me?


Susie - Recovering Church Lady said...

Oh my heart! I have had a very similar experience with our Layla dog. I have been SO close to giving her away for the same kind of things! So frustrating. Then she'll calm down and be such a good girl. Maybe they are TOO smart and know what we are thinking?

M said...

If you want another challenge, Oscar's all yours!