Lyra - Pet or Competition dog?

Yesterday I spent the day in San Diego teaching.  Lyra was left in the care of my husband for twenty-four hours. I wasn't worried; he's really taken to Lyra, and goes out of his way to take her places and to spend time with her.

That did not take away from my shock when I came home last night.  My husband took a piece of cheese out of the refrigerator, called Lyra with a cheerful "come come come" command and then used the cheese to help her into a rock back sit (sit, sit, sit), roughly in "front" position.  He then gave her the cookie, handed out copious praise, and let me know that she had already learned to offer that sit in front instead of jumping on him.

This was a moment I had not yet considered.  No one in my house has ever shown any interest in "training" my dogs.  They use commands to get them to do things (come, go, stay, etc.) to make it easier to live with them, but this was Training.

In exactly five seconds, I needed to formulate a response.

My family has never shown any real interest in the dogs.  They like them most of the time, but let's face it; sometimes it's hard to live in a house with dogs that slavishly worship one person.  If I stand up, they stand up.  If I walk through the house, they walk through with me.  It is not peaceful when the dogs think we are going to do something interesting.  It is....lively.  For the most part, my family just tries to stay out of the way.

My husband has taken to Lyra.  He really likes her, like he hasn't liked any of my dogs since our first Belgian fifteen years ago.   I think he wants a doggy buddy, and Lyra fits the bill.  She's calm, good natured, and isn't always biting.  She listens when you tell her to stop doing things.  She's loving and affectionate.

So I guess it's natural that he wants to teach his pet dog a few things, and he's watched me train enough dogs over the years that he has a rudimentary grasp on the basics.

So, as I watched him train Lrya....I said nothing.  My heart beat a little faster, but her quality of life will be infinity richer if she is loved by more people than just me. Someday I'll teach a new command to mean "sit here in front and be dead straight with your toes two inches from mine".  And it will be ok.  In exchange, she can be a family pet.

Admitedly I hoped he'd lose interest quickly in training, but this morning as I lay in bed, I heard "sit, sit!" coming from the kitchen.


Ellen Clary

Don’t worry about. Lyra will develop separate relationships with all the members of the family. In my household I do most of the training and my wife does most of the feeding. She is very popular, but I still have some respect (because the really good stuff comes from me. It does work out, and it’s fascinating to watch.

Sharon C.

My grandmother doted on my kids (her only local great-grand-children) and my dogs. She told me that when they visited, we were in her house and followed her rules – candy/cookies/ice cream (or dog treats, if appropriate). They got spoiled rotten in some ways, and had to follow stricter rules of behavior in other ways. It was fine. There was one set of ‘cues’ with Nani, and another set of ‘cues’ with me, and everyone seemed to figure it out pretty easily. It made my grandmother incredibly happy, and it kept our visits cheerful and positive. (well, except for the time one of the kids got car-sick post-visit….!)

A family member who is engaged and enthusiastic about your animal is a blessing, and if it means you have to teach a few extra cues, it’s a small price to pay :-) Maybe I should have my husband choose our next dog, if it means he’ll be more involved.

Kellie Ford

Denise, I can picture it so clearly! I know you didn’t think so at the time, but how adorable of Millo :-) He really loves Lyra!



Samantha Dillard (@sadillard)

Fantastic post! I loved your response, and everyone will be happier for it. :)

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