Failure is not an option…but apparently redefining goals is just fine

Pettigrew sits next to the radiator cover he has nudged out from the wall. He needs my help.

In general, Pettigrew astounds me with his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and empathy. Like when my mother, coming up our stairs with her hands full, called out to Pettigrew to wait to open the door for her. A command he definitely didn’t know. Yet, looking back at the sound of her voice, he paused and then pushed the screen door open for both of them.

What a smart dog.

How can this be the same guy who night after night grabs his bedtime rawhide treat and, in his zeal, knocks it under the radiator cover?

You’d think he’d learn.

I have grown accustomed to seeing him lie on his side to swish his paws under the radiator to free an errant treat. He even nudges the whole contraption away from the wall for better access.

The thumping, dragging, sounds of a heavy object being displaced on Friday night went beyond the usual.

He had worked the cover partway out, to no avail. Armed with my cellphone flashlight, I crouched down, and peered into the deepest darkest shadows while Pettigrew waited trustingly at my side.

Coming up empty handed, I felt his soft fur brush my cheek as he slid by me in the tight quarters, to inspect the area himself.

I grabbed a broom to see if I could dislodge the treat I couldn’t see. Only dust bunnies appeared.

I peered between the radiator’s spirals to see if the treat had gone airborne and was not, in fact, on the floor.

I looked under the carpet.

Despite being part coonhound, Pettigrew is not know for his keen sense of smell nor his tracking abilities. Perhaps the treat was not under the radiator at all.

Whenever I felt like giving up, I remembered the time Pettigrew had been a subject in a dog paw preference study. For three trials, the 12-year-old lead researcher hid a treat under the sofa and watched to see which paw Pettigrew used to retrieve it. I do believe Pettigrew had a dominant paw, but I don’t remember which one.

Before she left, she cleaned up the research site and did a sweep for any unretrieved treats. Her mother checked too. But Pettigrew kept snuffling at that sofa for days. Foolishly, I assumed he was just remembering the treats and was checking to see if there would be more, until I finally looked myself and unearthed a treat that had been left behind.

So Pettigrew and I continued our search. Taking turns looking, swishing, and waiting.

We never did find the treat I thought we were looking for; however, to his obvious delight, Pettigrew extracted two long-forgotten bones.

Perhaps his persistence paid off. Or maybe, he was content to see the glass half full. A bone is a treat after all.

6 thoughts on “Failure is not an option…but apparently redefining goals is just fine

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