Loosening the Grip


Jack’s favorite toy is his Kong. It’s the first toy we gave him when we brought him home from Sean Casey Animal Rescue. We always keep a few Kongs in supply for him, just in case one goes missing (which it does), or he manages to chew one apart (which he does).

Jack’s least favorite thing to do is to “drop it” – whether “it” is his Kong, or something else he has and shouldn’t. Over the past 15 months, we’ve looked Jack in the eye countless times and commanded “drop it” … “DROP it” … DROP IT!” The number of times he has actually dropped something for us is, well, more easily counted.


I think it is hard to let go of something once you’ve really sunk your teeth into it, even if you’ve been told it is not good for you. But Jack shows us that an old dog can learn new tricks. John and I are making a concerted effort to re-train Jack, and he is dropping things for us now, more easily and more frequently. We seem to be gaining Jack’s trust – especially when we reward his good behavior with kibble and loving pats.


As Jack’s people, John and I have been getting better at dropping it too. During 16 years of togetherness, we seem to have developed that special way of interacting common to a lot of established couples. We can needlessly aggravate a situation by snapping at one another and holding on for the last word.

Recently, someone pointed out to us that we do this (and that we are amusing to watch). They also pointed out that this pattern of behavior is a real waste of time. So we’ve made a concerted effort to re-train. When one of us starts to clench his teeth, we are quicker to recognize what is going on, and are learning to lighten up and let it go.

There is still some growling and snarking, but results so far are very promising (and probably amusing to watch).


live. enjoy. repeat.

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