Today, I read a great letter by Monika from Tails Around the Ranch to her much-love Poodle, Sam. Realising that my dogs could also benefit from a bit of friendly advice, I’ve set the wheels in motion with a New Year’s letter to Bilbo, our much-loved 9 year old Border Collie.
4th January, 2015
Happy New Year!
Although I understand there are seven dog years to one human year, I am talking about the new human year. I know you probably didn’t realise that another human year has come and gone. That’s what all those loud explosions and flashes of light were the other night. We were celebrating the beginning of a whole New Year!
Anyway, I know you weren’t particularly looking for a lecture on human society and culture. However, you’re a smart dog and it’s important to get an education. These days, it’s simply not enough to go to Puppy Training School and only learn to sit. You also need to learn about and understand people and what makes us tick.
Anyway, making New Year’s resolutions is an age-old humaman tradition . New Year’s resolutions are a list of things you’d like to change about yourself so you’re a better person. Or, in your case, you become a better dog.
Quite often, this list is put together after days or even weeks of deep and probing soul searching, which is a bit like going on a journey to the centre of your own universe. You explore, as it were, your very own command centre and decide what stays, what goes and what needs a bit of fine-tuning.
In other words, it’s all about exploring all those idiosyncrasies you usually keep well hidden under that thick, woollen coat.
Or, buried in the backyard!
I have it on good authority that there’s some kind of New Year’s Eve Fairy Godmother who flies around the world wiping the slate clean at midnight. So, when we wake up in the morning, we’re brand new.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?!!
A New Year = A New You!
Being unaccustomed as you are to making New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d better give you a bit of a hand. It’s not that we don’t love you just the way you are but as I said, we could all use a bit of “fine-tuning”.
Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.
1) Tennis Balls
Bilbo, as much as I appreciate that chasing your ball might be good exercise and that particularly for an older dog, your ball chasing and catching abilities are worthy of the Canine Olympics, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
This is called addiction.
The trouble with addiction is that when you keep pestering the rest of the family, visitors, friends and even strangers at the beach to continuously throw your ball and then bark persistently while they’re trying to have a conversation, this is the sort of severe addiction which results in total withdrawal. In other words, no ball at all!
It could also result in therapy, hospitalisation or worse.
Please accept when “enough” is enough and retire gracefully.
Remember! Too much persistence can be a health hazard to both you and the humans!
My food is NOT your food.
Yes, I appreciate that I could lose a bit of weight and that perhaps I’d be better off if the food on my plate ended up in your tummy. However, this isn’t your decision to make. Having your head on my lap and staring at me with those huge, irresistible puppy dog eyes, isn’t going to help.
3) Food Theft.
Before Lady arrived on the scene, you used to be such a good dog and never used to steal any food at all. However, just because our new arrival was on Australia’s Most Wanted, you didn’t have to join her. Indeed, you were supposed to train the new dog…not the other way around!
You have since been spotted with paws up on the kitchen bench and have been found guilty of stealing meat pies, cakes and toast. Just because the little people are careless with their food, that does NOT entitle you to take it…even if it does look like you’re helping to clean the house!
You are an excellent watch dog and we really appreciate your efforts at protecting the house from intruders.
However, as evidenced with your tennis ball, again there has been a degree of over-zealousness.
People ARE allowed to walk their dogs and ride past our house without being barked at. Moreover, the posty and delivery people can drop off packages without you lunging at the screen door and barking like a rabid dog. They are bringing us things we’ve ordered and are definitely not stealing anything.
Moreover, the bus driver is not trying to kidnap the children. So, you don’t need to rip the bus to pieces either.
The trail of dog food Miss left for Bilbo.
5) Lying in the Way
For some strange reason, you insist on lying across walkways and generally getting in the way, making it difficult to walk around the house. You are actually quite a large dog and take up a considerable amount of space. So, you need to keep that in mind when lying down. While ambushing burglars is a wonderful thing, your human parents do not appreciate being tripped up.
By the way, I’ll just add that sticking your paw out from behind the couch isn’t appreciated either. Looks like you’re really determined to trip us over!
6)Standing in the Rain
Bilbo for some reason you seem to stand out in the rain, even though you have a perfectly good kennel to keep you dry. Moreover, despite being wet and incredibly stinky, you still think you should be allowed inside the house and stare daggers at us when we shut you out. Stinky wet doggy smells stay outside!
The Good News
Perhaps, I should have given you a bit of a thank you first and told you what a good dog you’ve been and how much we love you but let’s finish this off on a high note of what you’ve done well in the last twelve months.
Bilbo & Lady
1) Accepted Lady.
Lady’s arrival was a huge change for you after being an only dog all your life and not really having a lot of interaction with other dogs. Indeed, I’m not really sure you knew how to be a dog before she came, even though you had met the others dogs at the beach before.
Although it took about a month for you and Lady to become friends, you have shown that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!
2) Can walk on the lead without tugging.
You might not remember back to when you were a younger dog, Bilbo but you were quite a terror on the lead and used to bolt off towards the beach with the poor human flying behind you like a kite. Now that you’re no longer a pup and have matured, you’ve become very well-behaved on the lead and we’ve even received compliments. Well done!
3) Dog Psychologist.
You somehow manage to cheer up everyone in the family and help us feel better, no matter what’s going on. Mind you, sometimes you do get your timing a bit wrong and in the midst of a crisis we hear your tennis ball “bounce, bounce, bounce” on the floor. That can be a little inappropriate and unappreciated but nobody’s perfect.
4) Doesn’t runaway with Lady.
As we know, Lady seems to like wandering off and has runaway a couple of times. We really appreciated how you’ve stayed home and were a good dog and didn’t join her. Good Boy!
Bilbo is now a shadow of his former self pictured here!
5) Lost Weight.
Well done, Bilbo. Somehow, you’ve managed to lose about 14 kilos in the last 12 months. We have no idea how you’ve done it, although you were quite crook with a terrible flea allergy for awhile. I’ll have to come and ask you for some diet advice as I seem to have gained instead.
So, Bilbo, there’s a bit for you to work on and a lot to be proud of as well. All fully achievable!
I’m now off to write to Lady. Still being a bit of a whippersnapper, she might be needing a bit of assistance. We all need somebody to lean on!
Love & Best wishes for the New Year!
A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.