Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't seen it with my very own eyes.

Schubert with Josh, circa 1992, still wearing that ever-alert "I'm trying to understand you" expression.

Schubert (named for the famous composer) was our second sheltie. We had him for fourteen years, and his intelligence was legendary. Schubert excelled at tennis ball catching, learned the word WALK in three different languages (if you include spelling it out letter by letter), and had a great sense of humor. But what I remember most was how quickly he learned.

When my parents brought him to our home in Los Angeles for Jeff's birthday, we fell head-over-heels in love with this little furball. We surprised ourselves by our willingness to give up our big city night life and just stay home and play with the puppy. We also liked to think we were practicing our parenting skills on him.  :)

Jeff was in school at USC, and I was working full-time at UCLA, so little Schubert, at just nine or ten weeks of age, would often spend long hours alone in our ghetto apartment. He was paper trained, and did a pretty good job, but often after a long day at the office I would return home to find a puddle on the kitchen floor. One day I decided to have a little chat with him.

I looked him right in the eye, showed him the puddle, and said, "Schubert, every time you make a puddle, I have to clean it up. I have to walk over here and get the rag..." (I walked him over to wear the rag was hanging, took the rag off the hook), "then I have to wet it in the sink and wipe up the puddle, and then I have to rinse it out." (I went through the motions of these steps as well.) He looked at me with this adorable cocked head like he was desperately trying to understand every single word of my little lecture.

The very next day I came home from work, and at first I thought my lecture had gone in one ear and out the other, because there was the usual tell-tale puddle on the kitchen floor. But (I kid you not!) little Schubert had gone to some extraordinary effort, and somehow taken the rag off the hook and set it on the floor for me, right next to his puddle! I was completely amazed that he had paid so much attention, and through his little puppy filter had done whatever he could to make my job easier! That exchange completely endeared me to him.


  1. Okay, I need a dog like that. I live in trepidation for the time when I have to start cleaning up puppy puddles. Ugh. But if it can get me a rag. . .Maybe it won't be so bad. lol

  2. You'd be amazed at how very little puppy-puddle cleaning up there is with these dogs. Shelties are remarkably clean animals, will never soil their sleeping area. It's very easy to kennel-train them in a matter of days, just by having them sleep in their kennel or crate and taking them out first thing in the morning. Then you gradually increase their boundaries and teach them to respect the rest of the house as well.