I trained Tawny, my Canine Companions for Independence dog, in over thirty commands before she went off to professional training. But after five months of the professional training program, which lasts for only six months, Tawny decided she didn’t want to be an assistance dog and was returned to me (referred to as a “release puppy”). But the one command I taught her, which was not part of her list of commands to acquire, was to get the newspaper in the morning.
Now I live in Palos Verdes, California, which is a small peninsula that extends out into the Pacific Ocean. The peninsula was basically formed by a tectonic uplift, resulting in an underwater mountain, the top of which elevates approximately 1,400 feet above the surface of the ocean. Now mountains are usually steep, and so is Palos Verdes. So getting the newspaper in the morning was quite a chore at my age, having to walk down the driveway and then back up. So, I trained Tawny to do the morning ritual for me. I open the gate, and she walks out and sits. Then I give the command, “Paper … get!” and off she goes. She runs down the driveway, grabs the newspaper, and then hightails it back up the driveway, into the garage, and then up the stairs into the kitchen. When I finally get there, I say, “Give” and she releases the paper into my hand. For her efforts, I give her a Glucosamine Chondroitin pill (for dogs), which she loves.
Often, people are taking early morning walks when Tawny gets the paper. They inevitably say something like, “Look at that. That dog is getting the newspaper. Boy, do I wish Fido would do that. Then I wouldn’t have to go down and up our driveway every morning.”
Now it took only three times to train Tawny to perform the command before she executed it perfectly on her own. I often wondered why she was so excited to get the newspaper — besides getting her Glucosamine pill — and then it hit me; she also loves the written word. Therefore, I believe she’s the epitome of an author’s dog.
Hear, hear to Tawny!