I just wrote, and lost, a long post about this dog. I wrote about how she came into our lives and about how crazy she was. I wrote about how she saved us when we thought we were saving her. This dog has been my therapy, but even better, she has been my son’s friend. I love this dog, and I’m glad she’s ours.
For today’s interview, we will be talking to Lila, the adorable nearly four year old labrador retriever – shar pei mix. Lila has agreed to this exclusive interview so that her adoring fans (all six of you) can get to know her better.
BB: Lila, thanks for sitting down with me today.
Lila (tilting head): Did you say sit? Or down? Because I heard both. Which do you want me to do? I can do both, you know.
BB: Yes, Lila, I know. How about down?
Lila (laying down, tail thumping): See? I did it. I’m a good dog.
BB: You’re a very good dog, Lila. Let’s talk about your past a little bit. Do you remember when you were a little puppy?
Lila: Oh yes. I had lots of puppy brothers and sisters. They were all warm and wriggly and squirmy and squeaky. I loved that. And we all had a momma and she was big and warm and she had food for us. Ah, it was a good time in my life.
BB: So you were a happy little puppy?
Lila: Of course. All puppies are happy.
BB: But when I met you, things had changed.
Lila: I remember that day. You and the boy came to see me and you took me in the play yard and I showed you how pretty I am from every side.
BB: Yes, you did. You were very pretty that day.
Lila: Am I still pretty?
BB: You’re the prettiest girl in the world.
Lila (tail thumping furiously): I love you.
BB: I love you too, Lila. Do you remember what happened before you met us, while you were waiting for us to find you and bring you home?
Lila (sad, downcast eyes): Yes. I was taken away from my brothers and sisters and my momma. I don’t remember too much after that, but somehow I ended up in a giant room with lots of kennels full of frightened dogs barking all the time. It was ugly and noisy and terrifying. I was so scared there I didn’t know what to do. Someone came by and said I had to go on a special list called an E-list. I didn’t like the way they said it.
BB: You were right to be scared, Lila. An E-list is not a good place for a puppy to be. But someone came and got you off that E-list. Someone from an animal welfare group. They knew you would grow up to be a wonderful pet someday.
Lila (happier): Yes. I got to ride in a truck from that scary place to a smaller place that still had lots of dogs, but there were lots of people there to help out and play yards to run in and it wasn’t as noisy or scary. But I was still alone in my kennel most of the time. Until my first family came. They took me home and I was so happy, at first.
BB: Then what happened?
Lila: I don’t know exactly, but it didn’t work out. They took me back to the place with the play yards and they said good bye. They said I just wasn’t working out for them. I was sad to see them go. I like people.
BB: I know you do. You’re a good girl. Then you met us, remember?
Lila: Yes, I remember. I didn’t want to scare the boy because I could tell he was a little nervous around me, so I played it cool, remember? I didn’t jump or bark or nip or anything. (wags tail furiously)
BB: You played it cool all right, until you got in the car to go home with us and peed on the seat, then started barking.
Lila (eyes slightly downcast): I was a little excited. (single, hopeful tail wag)
BB: It’s okay, Lila. You’re a good girl. (insane tail wag)
Lila: You didn’t say that at first.
BB: You were crazy at first. You were eight months old and you were naughty, naughty, naughty. But you worked hard at puppy school every week, and you went for long walks with me and the boy, and we went to the dog park a lot to help you get some of your energy out. We got a lot of exercise in that first year together. Remember that?
Lila: Yes! I love walks. Can we go on a walk? I’m ready. Just put on my leash. LET’S GO! (wag, wag, wag, jump up, circle, wag some more).
BB: Ok, Lila, let’s go.
Trackbacks & Pingbacks
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If you’ve ever trained a dog, you know that rewards go a long way. The look of anticipation, the concentration, and the willingness to do something that goes against their impulse is astounding. Given the right treat, my dog would do almost anything I ask of her (except coexist with cats, but that’s a whole different post).
Treats work great with children too. I’ve seen kids do remarkable things for the chance at a jolly rancher candy. This, of course, was back in the day before the state decided that our children were too obese to have an occasional piece of candy at school. I know of teachers who have gotten good results with pretzels, animal crackers, goldfish, and m & m’s. I may have even used some of those myself. The thing is, you can get desired behavior fairly consistently when there is a prized reward available.
Understanding this concept, I decided to apply it to myself. I’ve decided to reward myself at each ten pound milestone. I’ve already lost over ten pounds from my start date, but I’ll call it ten and count from this point forward. I’ve decided to make my reward something meaningful and beautiful and lasting. What I’ve come up with are beads for my bracelet. I have a Pandora bracelet that is pretty much full, but I also have one that is completely empty. I polished it up and put it on. This weekend I hope to get my first ten pound bead. From this point forward, I hope to commemorate each increment of ten with a new bead. I expect that seeing that bracelet fill in will be extremely motivating. I will have those beads with me, reminding me of where I’ve come from, and how difficult it has been. These beads aren’t cheap, but my health and well being are worth it. I’m looking forward to bribing myself and building my bracelet.