Sunday, 28 September 2008

dogs learning to 'leave it' or 'give' it to their humans

Our neighbours might have wondered what was going on in our backyard tonight, because they probably heard my increasingly desperate commands to Penny to 'leave' a delicious tidbit she had found, or to 'give' it to me.

I got so worried I shouted for someone in the house to come and help me wrench it from Penny's mouth. But no-one heard - a lesson that our houses are so soundproof that shouts for help might not be heard. Scary thought.

She was recently on a course of antibiotics for a week because the vet thought she had a bowel inflammation. It was only after I came home from that vet appointment that I had a horrible thought, too scary to even write about here. I remembered that in mid-August, I had lost a nylon stocking whose toe was stuffed with cabana, cheese and other smelly treats.

Why would I have such a strange thing? It was used to lay a great-smelling track for Penny to follow.

Why would I forget where I had put an object so dangerously tempting to a dog? I don't know.

I've had a niggling worry for weeks as to whether she had found it and eaten it. My friends must have got tired of me asking them whether they think a dog would eat something like that; whether it would go through her digestive system; whether it would show up on an x-ray; whether I should ask the vet; whether she would be still pooing if she had a nylon stocking in her gut.

You get the picture? I've been driving everyone crazy by mentioning it every time I start to worry.

Well, tonight I learned the answer: yes, a dog WOULD eat it if she happened to find it, even if it were so old that it had turned into a disgusting slimy mass.

Yes, she would absolutely refuse to give it back and would try to swallow it as quickly as possible if she thought her human was trying to steal it.

Yes, the stocking would start to tear apart if the human tried to pull it back out of her dog's oesophagus.

When I look at the photo and see how far into her mouth the stocking had gone - you can tell the part that is damp - I thank heaven that some intuition made me leave my dinner and go outside to investigate what she was doing outside at a time when she's usually keeping an eye on her humans while they eat.

Top of my to-do list is to be shown once again how to force a dog's jaw open. The vet did show me but in the dark and in the stress of the moment I couldn't do it.

One great result of tonight's fright is that now I can stop worrying about where the stocking is. It's in the rubbish bin and out in the street for collection.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you got it in time, that could have been awful. Rusty still has a few misgivings about "give it" if he really wants it.


parlance said...

Sharon, I think that we might have to agree the bottom line on dog training is the 'give it' command. If only I could have trained this one command more securely my life would be more relaxed!