Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training by Nelson

A few months ago, when we took Dempsey to Chuck E. Cheese, he entertained a bunch of kids by carrying around a paper cup -- on his nose.

We had been pleased with Dempsey's "carry," and we didn't think much of how he picked things up. But it actually matters.

One of Dempsey's new chores is to bring his food bowl to the kitchen sink after every meal so we can wash it for him. When we first taught him, he would sometimes pick it up flat, and sometimes he would pick it up vertically, with the bowl over his nose.

The problem, of course, is that when the bowl covers his nose, it also covers his eyes. A couple of weeks ago, after breakfast, I forgot to ask Dempsey to "push" my chair in. After he finished his breakfast, he dutifully picked up his bowl and started carrying it to the sink, also forgetting that he hadn't yet pushed in my chair.

I suppose if I were a nice person, I would've stopped Dempsey and made him push in my chair first. But I was curious to see what he would do, so I just watched as he staggered, with the bowl covering his eyes, towards the kitchen.

Predictably, Dempsey walked right into the chair in his path. Surprised, he dropped the metal bowl, and its clattering surprised Dempsey again. He jumped back about three feet, and stared quizically at the bowl as it wobbled to a stop.

I suppose if I were a nice person, I would've reassured Dempsey and told him everything was ok. Instead, I was rolling on the floor, laughing at him.

Luckily, Dempsey has a great sense of humor, and he didn't mind I was laughing at him. He looked at me, looked at the bowl, wagged his tail, smiled, and went back to pick it up. This time -- and every time since -- he picked it up so it doesn't cover his eyes.

I feel bad sometimes that I took a page from Nelson Muntz's training manual, but luckily Dempsey is a great sport. He loves it when he makes you laugh or smile, which he does every day. What a joyful boy!

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