In My Own Voice #42: Tips from an Elder Statesman

This is a dog-to-dog blog. It’s not something I’d like the Humans to read. So please, don’t share it.

Just a few life lessons from yours truly, who’s been around the block and then some. As a “rescue” who did the free-range thing in West Virginia before settling down with my forever family, I’ve picked up some tips throughout my life which I’d like to pass along.

First, it’s OK to eat everything you find when you’re out walking, even if the person you brought along isn’t happy about it. My advice: either act quickly and snap it up before they know what’s happening, or lull them into a state of false confidence by sniffing the plants and grass near your desired target before gobbling it down when they look away. The goal if you go the sniff before you eat route is to convince them that you’re just taking in the smells or evaluating possible places to mark.

Pettigrew pre-cleans a cutting board.

Second, although tempting, it usually does not turn out well to take things off the table or counters. If you want to eat something besides dog food in your house, your best bet is to carefully monitor your family and then sit at the feet of the person who drops the most while eating. I’ve made quite good meals from snatching perfectly delicious items that fall to the floor, or even on to chairs and laps.

Third, as I’ve matured, I’ve found myself on occasion not recalling why I entered a room. Did I stroll into the kitchen for a drink of water? Did I hear sounds of food being prepared? Did I want to take a nap on my bed? At these times I cultivate a neutral, disengaged expression on my face and pause, while I evaluate the options before me and try and reconstruct my intent.

This can be particularly challenging when out for a walk. I used to be able to retain a mental map of every walk I had been on and which routes I needed to revisit to refresh my marks in order to maintain my territory. Now, it’s more complicated. I have my good days when I can do a full route and other days when a shorter outing is desirable. It makes keeping track of where I’ve been when a burden.

Now when I and my person of choice go for a walk, sometimes I pause, trying to recall which way we need to go. My person tries to help by walking forward, backward, making to cross the street or turn the corner. I wish they understood, I just need a moment! They even repeat the same steps over and over as if this time I will suddenly declare myself and move. Don’t they know how ridiculous they look?

Sometimes I remember which way we need to go, but other times not. It’s important to monitor whether your person is getting impatient. If this happens, it’s prudent to just choose a direction or else there’s a risk of a sharp tug on the leash. If you catch them in time, your people will be happy to be moving again and tactfully won’t say anything about the indecisive behavior on the walk. What happens on the walk, stays on the walk.

As I said at the start, these tips are just between us. If you claim you learned these things from me, I will deny, deny, deny.

2 thoughts on “In My Own Voice #42: Tips from an Elder Statesman

  1. Ha! wonderful! It’s great to know I’m not alone in these things (except the sniffing to put you off the trail)!


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