The Magical World of Dogs

Anyone training a dog knows perfectly well that a system of verbal praise, petting, and little snacks is necessary to achieve the best results. My dog Dudley is no exception. When he’s bouncing around the back yard chasing squirrels, playing with our cat Riggs, or chewing on a Milk Bone, he probably wouldn’t be distracted by anything less than a tsunami or a level-five tornado.

Dudley’s concentration is, however, at its keenest when I’m eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stick of gum, or a dinner plate for myself that I’m trying to sneak into the den so I can watch Jeopardy. Dudley will be right there with an intense and unblinking stare with which even the most powerful laser beam couldn’t compete. This speaks of a technique that all dogs understand, regarding the master ingesting any kind of food. It’s called, “guilt.” All dogs have a terrifyingly powerful ability to use this universal canine method of receiving shares of whatever is being consumed by their masters. The ability seems to be innate from puppyhood onward.

When I take a bite of food, whether it’s oatmeal, salad, or ice cream, any food at all, Dudley’s stare becomes so sharp and unyielding, it’s as though he believes that if his gaze lasts long enough, the space between my fork and his mouth will magically turn into actual food. It’s important, though, not to yield to this imposed culpability, however soulful the dog’s eyes may appear. Giving in sets a precedent that is not fair to either the dog or his owner.

Whenever I have guests over for a meal, I always remind them not to give in to Dudley’s stare, which will always be used first on unsuspecting newcomers at the dining room table. My rule of thumb is, “If you drop food or offer Dudley even a crumb, he will follow you around the rest of your life.” I believe this is a universal law of nature, physics, or one of those books by Emily Post. I’m not sure which.    JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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