It takes a dog to understand the beauty of routine. I wish I had understood this sooner, but I'm a slow learner. Fortunately, Ollie is a patient teacher. A month didn't go by a couple of years ago without this column being devoted to the antics of our
It takes a dog to understand the beauty of routine.
I wish I had understood this sooner, but I’m a slow learner. Fortunately, Ollie is a patient teacher.
A month didn’t go by a couple of years ago without this column being devoted to the antics of our adopted spotted coon hound from North Carolina. Ollie closely resembles those dogs depicted in paintings of English country fox hunts leading smartly clad riders on their steeds at full gallop.
Ollie led us – including the neighbors, the mail carrier, UPS driver and Warwick’s finest – on more than one chase after burrowing his way under the chain-link fence in search of adventure. On one escapade, after a six-hour hunt, he was found begging for a handout at Dave’s Fresh Marketplace at Hoxsie Four Corners by a dog lover who recognized he was lost. What’s more, Ollie had lost his collar with all the identifying information.
Ollie’s rescuer brought him to her home and posted his mug on Facebook.
At 8:30 that evening, a member of the search party picked up on the post and I was on my way to a house close to Sherman School. I was greeted warmly and ushered into the living room. Their dog was lying on the rug – he wasn’t allowed on the furniture. But Ollie was comfortably ensconced on the couch having just finished dinner. Grudgingly, he left.
We have added bricks and cement blocks to potential digging points along the fence and outfitted Ollie with a cowbell when turned loose to romp in the yard. As Ollie has never been one to come when called, and we usually can find him thanks to the bell. Also, if there’s a lot of clanking, it’s a giveaway that he’s digging and we’d better check.
All of this would lead one to conclude that we have adopted a mischievous and unpredictable hound, which he can be. Yet Ollie is also a creature of routines that thankfully have made for a less stressful relationship.
The bell is an example. As soon as he hears it, he understands he’ll be set free in the yard. He heads for the kitchen door and waits to be collared with the bell. Then he exuberantly bounds out the door.
On the other hand, if Carol slips on her boots and a coat and takes the leash off the hook, he knows it’s a ride to one of several walking spots with a likely stop at Sandy Lane Meat Market, Dockside or Dave’s.
Like clockwork, he’s ready for breakfast at 8 and dinner at 4 with treats in between. Those times are engrained in his being. It’s the routine. He’s taught us that if we give him pre-breakfast or dinner bell romp time, then he’s going to be waiting at the back door. Set him loose after a meal and you’re not likely to see him for hours.
Part of his routine is joining us for dinner. He’s under foot during the preparation, sniffing to learn what’s on the menu. Once we’re seated, he lies down next to my chair knowing that I can’t resist sharing a morsel.
The routine after dinner including watching us from “his” living room chair, shaking the pullie for some friendly tug of war or nuzzling either one of us, his loveable “cat-like” means of demonstrating affection.
He’s trained us well.
We love his new routine, although we could use some excitement occasionally … just as long as it isn’t a race to Dave’s.