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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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Dumpster dives (10/28/2012)
By Frances Edstrom
I called my sister in Massachusetts to see if they had any action yet from the hurricane blowing around the East Coast. Not yet. Last year at Halloween, they had a huge snowstorm that sent trees and limbs tumbling. Trees still have most of their leaves out there, and they are hoping that any hurricane activity is not accompanied by heavy snow—to ravage their trees again.

Then we caught up on doings here and there since we last saw each other. I, of course, tell her about my children and grandchildren. She is also interested in the-dog-who-must-not-be-written-about.

Last summer, after all the changes at our house—John’s death being the most important—the dog became quite obstreperous and hard to handle. We went so far as to hire a trainer to come to the house and give us some pointers on ways to improve his behavior.

The trainer instituted a set of exercises to modify behavior, demonstrating them for us. The dog was exemplary! He behaved as asked each and every time. Then the trainer left.

My sister worked with the dog while I was at work for several weeks, and he did become a better dog. It turned out the trainer was modifying our behavior, too. We were sometimes slow learners. When my sister went back to Massachusetts, it was up to me to keep up the training.

I told my sister that in some areas, the dog was great. We could relax in the evening, I reading and he chewing a rawhide bone. Previously, he wouldn’t settle down, and it was a great chore to even be around him. We learned to hide toys that required us to play with him, like balls and Kongs, until we initiated the play. What a great idea! How come I didn’t think of that on my own?

I told her I now felt comfortable leaving the dog in the kitchen when I am at work, and my goal is to allow him the run of the house soon.

“He’s not really destructive,” my sister noted.

“No,” I said, “except for the wastebaskets.”

“Yeah,” she said, “he’s a dumpster diver.”

We laughed, but it gave me an idea. I’m going to institute a reading program to share with him stories of homeless life on the streets in the big city—diving in dumpsters for food, clothing, and recyclables to be sold for change. I’ll point out that dumpster diving is the result of desperation, and that it is not only disgusting, but an insult to all those who don’t have what he has—his own bed, his own room, a never-ending supply of water and dog kibble, air conditioning and heating, and a full social life with me and the wild animals and domestic cats that visit the yard.

I’m going to shame this dog into good behavior, or else. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to have nothing but covered wastebaskets. Wonder who will win this campaign? 


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