Some things haven’t changed!

Below is a copy of a Post from April 2015. Reading that Post, and reflecting on Ray’s life journey with us, I had to conclude that the recipe for having a happy home with a dog in it, is no different now than what it was when I wrote that Post. I guess we all (includes Ray!) learned well in those first two years together.

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This Post was not planned as such (I usually write Posts a week in advance so I always have a small number “in the bank” if needed!) however, we do have a development regarding the incident (lack of!) with the bag of dog biscuits* which I thought should be noted as early as possible.

The other lunch time, we went through our usual discussion about what to have for lunch and as none of the “regulars” sparked any excitement, we were considering options when Carol mentioned that we had a can of sardines in the cupboard. Voila! Sardines on toast! Problem solved.

She got the can out of the cupboard and immediately became Ray’s best friend! He was reaching up and pushing his nose right up against it. These cans do not seem to have changed in years because this one was exactly how I remember them in England a lifetime ago. They are a kind of oval shape (rectangle with rounded corners would be more accurate) with a section that pulled/rolled back to reveal the contents. This can was then wrapped in some kind of paper.

Not wishing to overstate the obvious, but to get into that can, you have to break through the wrapping, and then pull back on the lid which involves some effort as it does, after all, form an airtight seal on the can.

Ray displayed such an exceptional amount of interest in that can that we must conclude that he knew something really good was in there. I don’t suppose for one moment that he was thinking sardines, but likely something really, really, REALLY, yummy!

Here’s the reason for this Post! If he can pick up the scent of food through wrapping paper and a well-sealed can, he can obviously pick up the scent of biscuits through a bag. He could have so easily reached that bag; taken it off the table; gone into his den or somewhere else in the kitchen, and devoured the complete contents. Why didn’t he?

I cannot think of any explanation other than he knew he shouldn’t. He certainly gets excited when we give him one of those biscuits so it’s not as if they were really low down on his choice of treats. What a “guy”!

Those of you who have read most of our Posts (Ray’s antics + my writing = team work!) will realize just how far he has come in the two years that he has lived with us. For the benefit of recent Blog Followers, and to Followers who have not had the experience of a dog, the recipe was quite simple:

Be patient – Rome was not built in a day! Ray is still a “work in progress” after 2 years.

Be respectful – He may be “only a dog” but his mentality is similar to a human 3 yr old and so was treated as such. I like the saying “If you wouldn’t do it to a child, perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it to your dog.” A great answer to many training questions.

Get educated – We asked lots of questions; listened to the answers and applied them.

Love him – He wanted to feel appreciated just like us. That entailed the “tough love” concept which meant occasionally “separating him” from his actions. i.e. We didn’t always love what he did, but we could still love him for who he is.

Finally, we never let him feel that he was not part of our family. The more affection he showed towards us, the more comfortable we were responding to him and the end result is that he has become a “huge cuddle”. He still occasionally likes his space but then don’t we all?

*Related Post “Bag of Biscuits “ – Apr 23, 2015

Footnote: Browsing through the Comments on those old Posts, I had to smile at the familiar names there. Thanks so much “guys”, for staying on this journey with me and Ray.

22 thoughts on “Some things haven’t changed!

  1. I don’t think I had discovered your blog in 2015 (although with my memory, who knows?) but I really like what you say here. If you think about it, this philosophy applies to children as well as dogs…..

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    • Hi Ann. Agreed, although we tend to see it in reverse. One consistent quote, that I originally heard a long time ago from a trainer, is “If you wouldn’t do it to a child, then you should not be doing it to a dog.” That simple quote has answered so many of our questions, and Ray is pretty convincing proof that it works.

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  2. Good boy Ray. He knows he will get some, and probably more if he behaves, he’s that smart!
    MOH’s dog Buddy is now being treated to sardines on a regular basis, and MOH buys the tins by the dozen. A dog’s sense of smell is tremendous as we know, so I’m not surprised Ray got a whiff of this treat. Does he have the oil too, or do you drain that off? Just curious if, like cod liver oil, it’s good for joints etc. Maggie still has glucosamine for her arthritis and the occasional dose of Metacam when she’s particularly stiff like she was today. Fish doesn’t seem to agree with her though.
    We are grateful that she has never ‘pinched’ . She might get a little agitated in her scrounging, shuffling of butt, paddling of feet, the occasional verbal ‘oi!’, but we have never know her to steal off the table or our plates. That doesn’t mean to say she wouldn’t of course, but like Ray, she knows she will get something (and yes, she did have a bit of our cake this morning when we were out!) if she waits.

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  3. I’ve always loved the way you both trained each other. I’m not a fan of punishment as dogs don’t understand it. You seemed to achieve the perfect balance. Hats off to you all as I can’t stand the smell of sardines so Ray could have my share.

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  4. Colin, your recipe couldn’t be more perfect or accurate. Same guidelines are used here. When we adopted Murphy, she had suffered two years of abuse at the hands of her previous owners. We had to have one of her legs amputated because of that abuse.

    It’s been a long road, but she’s come a long way. Very protective of me still. She’s a good girl and very sweet. She just wants to be loved. Never regretted bringing her into our family.

    And I know Ray and you and Carol have never regretted becoming a family of three. Wishing you all many more happy years together.

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    • Thanks Ginger. You can obviously relate to our circumstances. It is so nice to read about other dogs that were able to experience a warm and loving home. Big hug to Murphy (if he will accept a hug!). 🙂


  5. My first thought was that Ray recognized the can, but you seem to imply that he hadn’t seen a sardine can before…?
    And yes, that is definitely a blue ribbon recipe for raising a dog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ray is really not a “visual” dog (are any of them?). He will totally overlook something if his nose is telling him something different. i.e. he is likely to zig-zag towards a target that is a few yards directly ahead of him, simply with following his nose as he tracks the scent. I believe that is standard scenting behavior as any slight air movement will impact the scenting/tracking process.

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      • Yes, there are what is called “sight dogs,” who primarily rely on their eyes. Some of the faster runners hunt by sight, such as greyhounds and wolfhounds. I think “scent dogs” are more prevalent, though. GSD’s are more of a scent hound, which is why they are so often used in sniffing for drugs and cadavers. Rotties also have excellent noses. Lexi, and now Xena, seem to be strongly scent oriented.

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  6. Glad you shared this story again, since it was my first time to see it.:)
    Good job Ray! What self control he had.
    Sounds like you have the perfect recipe. “Rome was not built in a day!” Oh yes, that’s a quote that I may have repeated to myself a lot over the years. 🙂

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