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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Butterscotch: A Servant's Heart (Written 5/13/20)

As the lockdown is lifted and as the baby goats demand a little less time, the dogs and I are slowly easing back in to training.

Today was the first time we've been back to the Camo Cross training facility in two or three months. Tassie and Cinder came for some serious ring practice. And then, on a whim, I tucked Scotch into the van and brought him, too.

At just six and a half months old, Scotch is still very much a puppy, and very much untrained. With the pressures of the baby goats and the six milkers I had for a while, he hasn't really been neglected, but he hasn't gotten anything extra, either. This is my busiest time of the year, and extras just don't find much space.

Still, when time allowed it, I've managed to squeeze in a few minutes of training for him here and there. When it comes to working dogs, my opinion is that less is often more anyway, as long as it's positive and constructive time.

And Scotch proved the theory. He did far better than I had expected today. His attention was riveted on me; his heeling was solid, his automatic sits were not only reliable but also straight; he lay down and waited when asked; and he even got to meet a child after training, which is an experience I don't think he's ever had. All of it he did with eagerness and enthusiasm.

After training, we went to the farm store to pick up some supplies.

Again, because the past few months have made socialization tough, I jumped at the chance to bring Butterscotch into the store with me. What struck me wasn't just that he behaved and did the basics without difficulty.

What impressed me the most was his gentle and respectful vigilance. When we slowed down, he slowed down. He didn't pull, pester, or get distracted. He kept pace with us, turned, stopped, waited in line. He didn't startle or fuss. At anything. Not bad for six and a half months old.

It occurred to me that this guy would make an incredible assistance dog.

He is very attentive and extremely trainable. And even the things he does that really annoy me—like grabbing anything that isn't nailed down, rearranging blankets and bedding, and hauling things out of the laundry basket—even those habits, if properly molded, would make him an invaluable service dog. Just think of all the tasks he could learn to do. He could be taught to put someone's shoes on, make the bed, flick on the light, switch the laundry from washer to drier, and pick up any item, from a tiny, slippery penny to a heavy carton of milk. He wants to serve and to please. His heart is in the right place, even if his habits sometimes aren't.

I'll try to remember that the next time he yanks my underwear out of the laundry and carries it off to put on display in the back yard.

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