08 September 2008

Gimme Paw

At long last, Sonny has mastered the Gimme Paw command. It’s not like it was that important for him to learn. Not like Sit or Come or Stay. Those commands are important for his own safety, so learning them is imperative. Gimme Paw is more a trick than a command. But I want him to learn.

When we first started learning this trick, I didn’t think Sonny would ever get it.

How we began: Sonny comes to visit me every morning after he has finished his breakfast, while I am getting ready for work. He will come to the doorway of my little master bathroom, always with some toy in his mouth, (or piece of one because almost all his toys are in shreds) tail wagging happy good morning. I will pet him and he will turn around under the robe that is hanging on the hook outside the bathroom door, plop down to the floor with the robe hem over his eyebrow, and watch me get ready for the day.

So it goes to follow that a few spare moments to interact with him started there in my bathroom.

I would sit down where we are nose to nose and say, Gimme Paw. And he would just stare at me. The look on his face said, What the heck are you talking about? His eyes are either vacant, or wander around the ceiling over my head, thinking, he knows he is supposed to do something, but his brain can not put his paw in my hand.

We try everywhere.

Gimme Paw while we are watching t.v.

Gimme Paw while I am reading the newspaper.

Gimme Paw while making my breakfast salads (yes, I eat salads for breakfast).

Aha! There is ham in those salads! And the dogs are right behind me.

Waiting for a treat. Dolly stands next to Sonny.

The commands begin.

Dolly sits.

Sonny sits.

Dolly gives paw.

Sonny sits.

But he looks real interested in that piece of ham.

The command is gimme paw. I will not pick up his paw to remind him. He must gimme it all on his own. In the meantime, Dolly is gimme-ing her paw all over the place. She gets Sonny’s tidbit of ham.

And he's none too happy about that.

We keep working on it, every morning from then on, that’s the drill.

Then one day a few weeks ago, Sonny gimmes the paw, albeit reluctantly, but he did it, so much praise is bestowed and ham treat given. I want spontaneous though. The spacey look is still in his eyes, and he still shifts his gaze as though thinking, making the connection between the words and the requested action.

And slowly, day to day, his reaction time narrows.

This morning, I turned around from the countertop, ham reward in hand. The two are already sit, so I say to Dolly gimme paw. Paw given. I turn to Sonny, and before the words are out of my mouth, I have his paw in hand.

Hooray! Gimme Paw has finally sunk in!

But then I think……

Tomorrow I am going to start gimme paw with Sonny instead of Dolly.

I think he’s been cheating on his tests.