Certain virtues tend to be life-long challenges for many of us to conquer. Patience has been and continues to be mine. Though I’m better at suffering the long lines in the motor vehicle registration office today than when I was 25, I still get a bit short when the lines are long in the “fast-food” place. I took on a challenge three month ago that has proven to be one of the best training grounds for cultivating patience that an old man like me can use. I bought myself a three-month old Shih Tzu about three months ago, and this has been an experience like none before.
In hindsight, I must admit that I wish I had done some research on the levels of hyper-activity prevalent in various dog breeds. After bringing Ari (that’s what we named her) home, it didn’t take me long to realize that Shih Tzus are one of the more hyper-active breeds. In addition to the frustrations associated with house training, they are constantly demanding attention. Although Ari has a passel of toys that litter the terrain of the household, she’s demanding my attention throughout the day to play with her. You might ask why she makes demands on my attention versus my wife’s; because I do all of the feeding, bathing, grooming and granting of lap time. In fact she’s demanding I play ball with her as I try to pen this piece. She’s placing her squeaky toy in my chair and standing on her haunches, begging me to throw it across the room for to fetch. If I try to ignore her, she gets ever the more animated in attempts to capture my attention.
I’ve tried on more than one occasion to throw the ball, chase her around the back yard, and do whatever exhaustive activity I could think of to wear Ari down to the point that she will take a long nap. Unfortunately, the need for nap time is reached for me far sooner than her. I must admit though, this experience has been good for me in many ways. I’ve discovered in my dotage that much patience is required in the training and socialization of a puppy. This is a process that can’t be rushed. It requires deliberateness, repetition, love and whole lot of patience. Just when you think you’ve got the house training thing down, Ari poops in the hall way. Ari’s a dog; you can’t verbally scold her or issue her a performance improvement notice. You just have to calm down and do what you’ve been doing all along to help her understand and perform the desired behavior.
Although I’m trying to teach Ari some important tricks that may help her in her short God-given life time, I think the tricks on me. Yes, I’ve come to believe that an old human can be taught a new trick: patience. This is a trick (or more so a life skill) that I hope to be translational to other areas of my life. My wife would certainly like to see that happen. Who would have thought a puppy could be this much help?