Jack and the Squeaky Toy Challenge

jackJack and I are taking a Level 1 Obedience class at the Nashville Dog Training Club. We are halfway through the class of eight weeks. There are about 10 people and their dogs taking the class.

Jack loves the experience — so many sights and sounds and smells, so many new things. He’s a bit crazed by all the distractions. And I’m a bit crazed by being new at this dog-handling task.

Here’s the deal. The class is to teach me. I’m supposed to get and keep Jack’s attention and teach him to do things. I have Jack’s treats — baked hot dog slices — in a nail apron from Home Depot.

Jack is learning to walk loosely on the leash. To stop. Sit. Stay. Lie down. Walk slow. Walk fast. Watch me.

And … Come. The “come” command is, according to Tom the instructor, one of the most important things to teach a dog. It can save his life. Say, for instance, he gets out of the back yard and is running straight towards the interstate. Or a rabid dog. Or a herd of elephants. I would yell, “Jack! Come!!” And he would stop in his tracks and run to me (thus, saving his life).

They call this exercise “Release.” I give Jack to the teacher. Taking Jack’s leash with me, I walk to the other side of the exercise ring. I yell, “Jack! Come!!” and the teacher releases Jack. Then Jack races to me.

Last week, the teacher introduced a thing called “a distraction” to this exercise. The assistant teacher stood off to the side with a squeaky toy and squeaked it while the owners were calling the dogs. Jack and I were about 7th in line for the challenge, so he got to hear the squeaking for about five minutes before it was our turn. All that time, waiting in line, I couldn’t get him to look at me, eat a treat, acknowledge my existence. Jack was focused like “Laser Lassie” on the person with the toy.

Then it was our turn. I got in position and yelled, “Jack! Come!!”

And … he ran straight to the person holding the squeaky toy. When I went to get him, I couldn’t catch him. He stayed on the other side of the person with the toy.

The teacher said, “Next time, let’s put him on the long leash …”

I was mortified. But then I realized that there are several ways to look at this challenge:

1. Jack and I failed our “Release” exercise. OR
2. Jack was totally successful in finding the squeaky toy. OR
3. I’m still trying to learn how to get and keep Jack’s attention.

Nonetheless, I can be assured that Jack is truly a Scottish Terrier, a pedigreed, vermin-hunting wonder.

P.S. We’ve had another week to practice. Snd this time at class, Jack and I did a bit better with the squeaky toy challenge. I put him on the long leash, and he mostly ran to me when he was released.

Good dog, Jack. Good girl, Beth.

Jack and the Irresistible Instinct

jackSometimes I have the urge to do something, but I don’t know why. Jack, my favorite Scottie, has those irresistible urges, too. There’s a rawhide bone that causes this instinctual behavior in him. When he gets one of these bones, he wanders around with it hanging out of his mouth. He paces, he whines. He searches for a place to hide it. It’s just like those TV commercials that feature the dog trying to bury the bone.

It’s the most amazing thing to see these instincts coming out in Jack from his survival brain, the voices of his wolf ancestors reminding him that he might need sustenance later on, that he should carefully plan for the future.

When the Irresistible Instinct comes over Jack, he’s liable to “bury” that bone under his dog bed, behind a chair, in the pillows of the couch. One day he “buried” it under my elbow as I was lounging on the couch watching TV.

Jack, Jack,

I love you buddy. I’m sorry I laugh at you. And then “dig up” the bone and give it back to you to watch you do it all over again. This irresistible instinct of yours makes me love you even more.


Watch Jack and the Irresistible Instinct below or on YouTube.

Jack’s Babysitting Job

job1Jack’s friend, Tracy, called early this week to say that she had a job for Jack. Tracy needed help with Sammy the maltipoo puppy who was coming over for a few days. She needed someone (like Jack) — to keep Sammy entertained. (Awwww, Jack … we remember when you were just a tiny puppy, and now you’ve got your first job.)

So Jack’s been at Tracy’s helping with Sammy. When we went to pick him up today, we observed his work for a while. (He’s very good at this babysitting stuff.)

Sammy is the cutest pup ever. Here he is chewing on a stick and looking adorable.

Sammy the maltipoo

Jack’s got good babysitting tricks. One is a game called, “Chase Me. I’ve Got the Ball.” Sometimes Sammy chases Jack.

playing ball

And sometimes, Jack chases Sammy.

playing ball

Either way, it works great.

Another game in Jack’s toolkit is “Chase Me. I’ve Got the Stick.” Here’s the early part of the game where both pups are getting ahold of the stick.


And here goes Sammy with the stick!

Sammy with the stick

Sammy’s still got the stick! Go, Jack, go!!

Chasing Sammy

This is Said. He lives with Tracy all the time. And he’s Very Ready for Jack and Sammy to go home. He needs just a little peace and quiet for a change.


Jack said he’s got the greatest job ever!!

1. Chasing and being chased by Sammy.
2. Running. Eating. Taking naps.
3. And then Running. Eating. Taking Naps. Barking. Playing. …

Tonight, back at home, Jack’s asleep. He’s tired out. Babysitting is hard, hard work.


Jack’s Black Friday Agenda

Jack on Black Friday

1. Sleep late
2. Eat breakfast (lick bowl out)
3. Walk (watch out for Anything Unusual)
4. Take nap
5. Chase squirrels off the porch
6. Check bowl for food
7. Take another nap
8. Watch for squirrels
9. Check the kitchen floor for snacks
10. Rest eyes … for just a few minutes
11. Keep an eye out for squirrels … they are Very Tricky.
12. Eat dinner. (Lick bowl out.)
13. Walk (watch for Squirrels and Cats)
14. Family time
15. Evening nap
16. Walk (watch for Scary Nighttime Stuff)
17. Bedtime

Jack and the Windy Day

alertjack_smJack does not like windy days. There are strange noises. Leaves start chasing you down the street for no good reason. And Very Scary Things show up where they are not supposed to be. Like Big Scary Boxes. And Branches. And Trash Containers on Their Sides.

When Jack starts out on his walks, he surveys the street to be sure that everything is ok. If something is out of place, he goes into his “I’m Alert” pose — like in the photo above.

On this particular morning, there was a box in the middle of the street. Jack said he wasn’t going down the street because there was a Big Scary Something Where It Shouldn’t Be.  I moved the box to the curb, and Jack took some time to ponder whether it was safe to go by.

We eventually made it by the box and went on, doing our business. But then we had to come back the same way. It Was Still There!! What to do? It’s time to approach the Big Scary Box … in A Very Wary Manner.


Jack stared at the box for a while and it seemed to be tame enough.


He slowly approached it from the side.

Right after this picture was taken, the box must have jumped or something, because Jack shot back about three feet and refused to approach it again.

Brave pup. Our Jack. He’s king of the street. (Even if he gets a little jumpy on a windy day.)


Jack’s Week at Camp Tracy

Jack and Boone
Jack and Boone

I recently went out of town on a trip, so Jack (and Spec) got to go to Tracy’s house for a week. Her house is much more fun than his at home. Tracy works with dogs. Here’s a link to her website, ZenPaws. Here are a few of Tracy’s notes about Jack’s week at dog camp:

Tuesday, May 24
Jack rode really well in my car — maybe because Spec was in it. Jack didn’t want to get in the car, though. He didn’t even want his leash on to leave the house. Mike (the handyman) was here when we got here and Jack jumped all over him.

Wednesday, May 25
Jack barked for about 30 minutes at bedtime. We all got up at 5 a.m. and then went back to bed. Then Jack barked from 6:30 – 7:30.

Thursday, May 26
Last night I left Jack out with McQueen. Jack whined when I went to bed but didn’t bark. He amazes me by how fast he runs. He can keep up with the big dogs. His little legs do triple time.

Friday, May 27
Jack and Boone were up all night playing. And they bark while they play. Boone was afraid of Spec at first (well Spec lunged and barked at him and chased him all around the yard) but Boone just did three play bows in an attempt to get him to play. Spec didn’t know what to do. Boone ran off with Jack.

Saturday, May 28
I have a headache behind my left eye called “Jack.” That monkey/hyena barking is enough to drive a person … well, drive a person to drive away. It takes a village to care for Jack. And, luckily, I have a village. Almost every dog has given Jack “what for.” And they do it so nicely and then go right back to playing with him. Sadly, I’m the only one bothered by his nightly barking!!

Sunday, May 29
I don’t know what the dogs did while I was away, but the white one were covered in mud. It’s bone dry outside. Maybe they dug a well. Jack has been spending a lot of time outside with the big dogs. He’s usually the last one to come when I call.

Monday, May 30
Hey, I think Jack misses you. He finally started paying attention to me. I was brushing Ginger and he was standing underneath her and was totally orange by the time I was done. He stayed out with the big dogs last night and didn’t bark at all.

Tuesday, May 31
Jack was quiet all night. He was out with Layla and Boone and I think they are finally too tired to play. Spec had the honor of waking me this morning with his low, raspy bark. Jack isn’t giving Spec the time of day. He’s too busy with the big boys and I think Spec is glad!

Jack slept for 2 days after he got home from camp

Lessons from Jack

Puppy Jack
Puppy Jack

It was a year ago when Jackson (a Scottish Terrier puppy) came to live with us. He’s brought joy to this household and has taught me a few things about life. Today I celebrate Jack and the things he’s taught me.

  • Love — I love this dog. And I think he loves me. Love’s such a wonderful mystery — and a gift.
  • Patience — You can’t make a puppy do his business. It’s a process of growth and learning — for both puppy and human.
  • Fun — You don’t need expensive toys to have fun. Fun can come from  a sick, a leaf, or a plastic bottle. (That’s a good lesson for me in this season of wanting new gadgets.)
  • Friendship — Jack has a bunch of friends, both human and canine. He has a great sense of hospitality, welcoming visitors with a smile and wagging tail.
  • Happiness — Happiness is … having a puppy.