I was getting ready to do a load of laundry a while ago and, in digging through the mound of dirty clothes on my bedroom floor, I smelled something a little more than stinky. In the pocket of a pair of jeans–a Ziploc baggie with a few bits of hotdog. I hadn’t worn the jeans in several days.
This, I’m almost ashamed to say, has become a common occurrence.
You see, we’re in training mode, Petey and me. In fact we’re two classes away from graduation (we’re in the Basic Manners program, if you didn’t know). I’m quite proud of my boy. He’s learning all kinds of stuff, like how not to pull me around when we go for walks and how to sit and look me in the eye and how to stay just outside the kitchen while I’m cooking. And he does a pretty mean roll-over. You should see it. His legs flail around as though they belong to another dog’s body; his head twitches from side to side, trying to convince the rest of him to follow. If I had a fancy video phone I’d record it and post it here. If I had a digital camera I’d take a photo. If I were artistically inclined I’d draw you a picture. Instead I’ll invite you to stop by and see my boy in action. He’s always happy to show off.
And what about the hotdogs, you say? They’re what we call incentive. Petey does something right, I click the clicker; that elicits a Pavlovian response; he looks for treat; I deliver. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.
The hotdogs are nearly always in my pocket–around the house, on walks, in the car, in class. And if there aren’t any hotdogs, I usually have some pieces of freeze dried lambs lung on hand. All this treat carrying leads to some awkward situations. Like going to work with hotdoggy smelling hands. Or reaching in my pocket for a dollar at the store and finding that stuck to my dollar is a mushy wad of once-fresh hotdog bits.
Last weekend there was a show on PBS about hotdogs. How they’re the great American meat-on-a-bun or something like that. They explored hotdog marketing, eating contests, regional hotdog varieties, even the dos and don’ts of hotdoggery. But they didn’t say a word about hotdogs in pockets. Not a word about hotdogs as incentives.
Curious, don’t you think?