Sunday morning, I saw the guy with the salt-and-pepper pair walking up the road. I was on the porch when they came into sight; all four Newfs were in the side yard. As soon as any one of them noticed the black terrier and the white terrier, the peaceful Sabbath would be over for my neighbors.
Time for a "teachable moment," I realized, and ran to the cupboard for the jar of liver jerky- the Best Treat In The World.
"Hey Nelson! Abbie! Ernestine! COME and SIT!"
No need to worry about Mary right now. She was off in her own world, and with her lack of distance vision, she wouldn't see the terriers. So long as none of the other dogs raised the hue and cry, she'd never even notice.
Of course, if someone did sound an alarm, Mary would join the chorus, loudest and most frantic of all. What's worse, she wouldn't stop when the terriers disappeared down the road; she'd just keep circling and barking until we got her calmed down. Keeping the other three from setting her off was the important thing on a beautiful Sunday morning.
"You guys get over here, now! That's right- SIT. Good. Gooooodddd!"
"He's got jerky! He's got jerky!" The word was out.
"That's right, and you'll get some if you're good. Now, WATCH me..... good. SO good!"
"Can we have some jerky? Can we have some jerky?"
"Not yet. You need to go DOWN."
Three dogs dropped like homesick bricks, drool dripping down eager flews. Jerky time soon, jerky time soon!
Suddenly, Mary came hopping up the porch steps. The tilt of her head asked, "What's going on?" and then she got the word, "He's got jerky!"
She stood puzzled for a moment, as I continued to focus on the other three. "You guys STAY until I tell you. No jerky until I say so."
My command tone caught her attention. An understanding dawned: he wants me to do my trick!
Mary took her place behind the other three, then she carefully, eagerly, sat. Just the way she's been taught to do before dinner.
Then she looked up at me. "Jerky now, right?"
"Yeah, sweetheart." A six-foot, two hundred-pound ranger came close to tears. "Jerky now for everybody."
Later that day, she ate my Green Bay Packers ball cap. I don't care; there is no way I can get mad at that little girl.
Next: Laugh, Cry, Crawl In A Hole?