Saturday, January 01, 2011

Murphy's Day Out

This morning I took Murphy out to Harpers Ferry for a bit, just to spend some time with him. Admittedly, it felt a bit strange being there with a dog that wasn't Lagniappe, because that place was a big part of our shared time together.

I took Murphy over by the Armory Engine House, the building in which America's first terrorist, John Brown, was bottled up and captured by then-U.S. Army officers Lt. J.E.B Stuart and Col. Robert E. Lee and a detachment of U.S. Marines from the Washington Navy Yard. I put him on a 30-foot training lead and hooked it to a fence, and we spent some time working on recall and staying where he's put even when I go out of sight. Rewards for good behavior came in the form of bacon treats and some playtime with a tug-of-war toy, since he's progressed to the point where he and I can play tug-of-war without him trying to go all Alpha Dog on me. And he did very well, following my commands instantly and usually not moving until he got a command, and this despite the hikers and tourists walking on the nearby paths. I continue to be impressed with how well he's coming along. The comedy occurred when Murphy would start to get excited and jump around. The training lead would start to wrap around his legs, and he'd respond by spinning in circles to try to get away from it. In seconds, he'd do five or six revolutions and the lead would be wrapped tightly around all four legs and he'd fall over, self-hogtied. I almost felt guilty laughing at him as I helped him get loose. But he'll learn.

Fortunately, as we were leaving, we happened upon on of Lagniappe's favorite people in the whole world, Sharon, owner of the Swiss Miss ice cream shop. She was just arriving at her store as we were leaving, so naturally she had to meet Murphy, and Murphy, typically a reserved and aloof dog, took to her right away. And that was before she gave him an ice cream cone.

And he did get a small vanilla cone, just as Lagniappe got countless cones there over the years. Although whereas Lagniappe would have snatched the cone from whoever handed it to him and wolfed it down in seconds, Murphy was much more deliberate. First he sniffed it, unsure as to what it might be. Then he gave it a tentative lick...and then another lick...and then another lick...and he continued to lick and nibble at it as I held it, making no effort to take it from me at all. In fact, he seemed to think that it was my job to hold the cone while he licked it, and I had to work at it to get him to eventually take the cone from my hand after he'd licked all of the ice cream out if it. But his tail was wagging and his eyes were shining as he polished it off. I think that it was probably his first ice cream cone, and I know that it was the first "people food" that he's had since I got him, the pound and a half of bread that he stole the other night notwithstanding, of course.

How does a 80lb. dog eat a pound and a half of bread in one go, anyway? I could not eat all that and I'm a fair bit bigger than he is.

Post-ice cream, we came back here, and now he's lying at my feet as I type, just the picture of contentment.

Yep. Lot of potential in this dog.

8 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are just what he needed. A happy new year to you both.

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  2. Sounds like progress.
    Happy New Year

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  3. Definitely sounds like he is learning quickly!!
    Isn't it great watching a dog have his first ice cream cone?!? Kira did exactly what Murphy did. But she still has never learned to tak it from me. She expects me to hold it while she daintily licks the ice cream til it's gone and then I have to break up the cone for her to eat it. lol!! (yeah, who's got who trained...)

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  4. Happy New Year to you and Murph both! Sounds like a good day was had by all :-)

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  5. Oh how precious your new pup is....These are the awesome anecdotes that make me keep coming back to your blog.....Murphy is going to be an awesome companion ...and I have a feeling he is going to provide much more great material!!

    Happy New Year to both of you.

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  6. Oh, and if I am ever in Harper's Ferry, I am going to look up this Sharon lady who gives out free ice cream cones for sure..

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  7. You and Murphy give me hope.

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  8. Wonderful story- and I know Lagniappe is smiling down from Doggie Heaven.

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