You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Iso The Wonder Dog

This weekend, our family has been puppy sitting Boots.  Boots is a seven month old german shepherd who is being trained to be a seeing eye dog to help a blind person.  She’s being raised by a local family who is part of our 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club.  The Club meets once a month (tonight actually) to help puppy raisers with training tips and to conduct business to keep the club moving along.  We are currently on the waiting list for a new puppy which should arrive sometime this fall.

Our “forever” dog, Iso, was part of the program.  Iso is our seven-year black lab.  We got him when he was eight weeks old, and we had him in our home until he was eighteen months old.  From there, he traveled up to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he was trained for eight months.  We got to see his “final” exam, a town walk through the streets of Morristown, and he did great.  So we were surprised when we received a phone call a couple of weeks later indicating that Iso was not going to pass the program.  Apparently, he was too social – he was too distracted by other dogs.

Fast forward, five years.  Iso lives with us, and he is a great dog.  He’s very friendly.  He doesn’t bark – which makes him a terrible watch dog.  He doesn’t fetch – which makes him a terrible retriever.  And he’s not real active – which makes him a terrible walking partner.  But we love him.  He is so loyal, and he loves our company.

This weekend has been a wake up call for Iso.  Imagine a seven month old puppy invading your turf – running circles around you – stealing your attention – disrupting the life as you know it.  Needless to say, Iso didn’t seem to happy about the whole thing when Boots walked in the door on Friday night.  As the weekend has moved along, a friendship seems to be budding, and Boots seems to be teaching Iso a thing or two.

Iso has actually barked a few times in response to the pestering of Boots.  We now know that Iso has a deep bark which could be scary if an intruder came to the door.  Iso has also dabbled in the whole fetching thing.  Boots loves to fetch her orange and blue ball.  She carries it around with her all the time.  I don’t think Iso understood this at first, but once he saw how much attention Boots received as she returned to the thrower with the ball, Iso started get it.  He actually went after the ball a few times and beat out the younger Boots to retrieving the ball and bringing it back.

So…I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!

We say goodbye to boots today as her family returns from a weekend getaway.  But we’ll remember Boots with fondness as we think of the new tricks she passed along to our forever dog.  Plus, we’ll get to say hello to Boots at each of the monthly Puppy Club meetings – including tonight’s meeting.

I think we can learn from this story of Boots and Iso.  Younger people have lots to teach “older” people.  If you are young, speak up and share.  (This is a good lesson for me as I am the youngest person on our management team at work.)  If you are “older” (and we’re all older than someone), watch and listen to those who are younger.  They can add value and new insights.  They can also remind you that things can be fun and exciting.  Great lessons from our weekend!

Do you have any pets?  What tricks can they do?

Who are the young people you hang out with for new ideas and new energy?