Ray has always had a special relationship with a store just around the corner called Fantastico Pizza. The full story is in the book however, suffice to say that it is a father and son business and, while Ray gets on well with both of them, he is distinctly more excited when he sees the father.
This relationship goes back quite a way when the father gave Ray some pepperoni slices. Ray became an immediate friend for life!
While they both love him dearly and spoil him whenever possible, it has become a bit of a problem because when we take Ray on his walk, and if we pass Fantastico Pizza, he will put the brakes on and just stand and stare through their front door. After a while, he will sit and then stare at anybody who is working there hoping to get some pepperoni slices!
Ray is very good in general with the “Leave it!” instruction, and so it has been used to coax him past Fantastico Pizza. It has worked relatively well, especially when someone other than the father is running the store.
Yesterday evening we took Ray out because we needed to do a little shopping, and we knew that our route would take us past Fantastico Pizza. Of course we now had a plan! As we approached the store, we picked up the pace and reminded Ray of where we were going. Once we reached the store, Carol (who had the leash) continued walking past while giving him the “Leave it!” instruction.
A few seconds earlier, I had looked in their front window and saw the father waving to Carol and Ray. Carol waved back but our whole plan was doomed at that point because Ray saw the interaction and promptly sat down.
The father was clearly thrilled to see Ray again and rushed over to where the pepperoni slices were. He then came outside and greeted Ray like a long lost friend, and then asked Ray to “shake a paw” with both left and then right paws before giving him a slice of pepperoni. This was repeated with each pepperoni slice but Ray (being Ray!) soon did not need to be asked and he quite voluntarily offered up each paw!
Once the pepperoni had gone, Ray agreed to let us continue with our shopping trip… and he had a new spring in his step! We need to rethink our strategy!