You know how dogs have a natural instinct to use their mouth to snatch a treat that's handed to them?
Well, apparently Buddy doesn't know about it.
Buddy is my dog, a golden retriever who is neither golden nor a retriever. He's more of an orange tint and has gone his entire life without retrieving a single item. Ever.
Here's how a game of fetch goes with Buddy:
Me (holding stick): "OK, Bud, you see the stick? See it boy?"
Buddy: (blank stare)
Me: "Remember how I told you that you're a retriever? , I'm going to throw this stick and you're going to retrieve it. Ready? Here we go!"
At this point I throw the stick and Buddy e_SEmD utilizing his centuries of retrieving instinct e_SEmD doesn't notice.
Then he stares at my empty hand with a look that says, "So help me, I could have sworn there was a stick in your hand just a second ago."
He then trots off to work on a hole he's been digging for months. I'm not sure what that boy is trying to accomplish with that hole, but I figure he'll eventually have to stop when he reaches China.
Undaunted, I decide to give it another try.
I run and grab the stick and turn around to holler for Buddy, but I trip and fall over him. That dog has an amazing ninja-like way of silently sneaking behind me.
I wave the stick in front of Buddy's eyes, which accentuate his "nobody's home" expression. And we try again:
Me: "I know you can do this boy. Get the stick. Get the stick. Wait, let go of the stick. I didn't mean get it now. I have to throw it."
At that point, I determine the fetching lesson a success. Why? Because he actually put the stick in his mouth, which brings me back to the treat I mentioned at the start of this column.
When I hand a treat to our black lab, Mustang Sally, she's all over it. She snatches it with such unbridled enthusiasm that I count my fingers afterward to make sure they still are at their proper location on the end of my hand.
Then it's Buddy's turn.
I actually have to show him the treat and place it in his mouth. Buddy responds by dropping it, seemingly unaware what took place. Eventually, he looks down, notices it and thinks, "Whoa, how long has THAT been there?" Excited, he barks a few times, prances around in some sort of Buddy victory march and returns to pick up the treat.
But he can't.
Sally has gotten it.
So I give Buddy the reserve treat that I've learned to keep on hand as part of this routine. This time he grabs and eats it.
He then trots on, happy as can be, and approaches the stick I had tried to throw him. Then, again displaying his incredible instinct, he keeps walking without noticing it.