How to Train Your Dog


Let him grow old.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got.

Cooper is crazy. From his very first escape attempt through the streets of his puppy neighborhood, to is grand adventure on his third day as a member of our family, our lives became a precision orchestration of keeping the door closed and making sure keys were at the ready to chase after Indy Speed Racer.

Fast-forward nine years, one black lab, and two tiny muppets later, Cooper’s calmed down quite a bit while the human children have revved their motors up exponentially.

This past weekend Search and Destroy were in the front yard, seeking to destroy the imaginary Gotham city they’d built (in reality the woeful “city” comprised my car and our garage door). And as preschoolers hell bent on causing chaos, knees were scraped.

Destroy, wearing his emotions on his sleeve (and broadcasting them throughout our neighborhood on our recently reconnected Wi-Fi), melted down due to the immediate misfortune of an un-bandaided boo-boo.

Since we were in the front yard, I couldn’t simply leave the rampaging lads to their own devices. Destroy took matters into his own hands and raced inside as he called back his mission. “I see a helicopter. Ow. Ow. Ow. I’m getting a band-aid!!!”

He returned two minutes later proudly brandishing a Toy Story bandage nowhere near his wound and immediately got back down to business.

Moments later, a four-legged creature tentatively tip-toed toward me. Scout, our black lab was sneaking out of the house like a rebellious teenager, testing each step for the telltale creaky floorboard.

Scout has never worried me. He’s a people-pleaser. Or rather, he only ever wants to be with his people. He’s the kind of dog who would stand on the porch just outside the open doorframe, tapping his paws, desperately trying to be as completely in the way and underfoot as possible. (Unless of course a fellow creature – be it dog, cat, or leaf – pass in front. In that case he’d have to go make a new friend, concerns of others be damned!)

I immediately sat up straight and ordered him back to the house. Although we’ve thought Cooper was over his ding-dong-ditch ways after his most recent cancer diagnosis, I had no desire to test this particular hypothesis.

But when I turned sideways to further shoo Scout back to the house. Cooper was sitting there, staring back at me.


“Back inside!” I shouted indignantly, more on principle at this point than any real fear. (In his younger days, Cooper would have already been on the next block.)

Cooper snorfled at me, audibly passed gas, and harrumphed himself to the ground with a dramatic sigh. His bright brown eyes shone bright against his now snow white fur. And while the outside observer may have thought I was simply protecting the neighborhood from the curmudgeonly old dog grumbling, “Get off my lawn,” to passers-by, I could see his thoughts loud and clear.

“I guess you guys really are my forever family. Maybe I’ll stay a while.”

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One Response to How to Train Your Dog

  1. This happened to us too. We have gotten very lax with door shutting and have to majorly adjust with the new dog.

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