The Inner Game of Dog

Tabitha Retrieve-lightenedOn the first attempt, the dumbbell fell short of the jump. On the second, it flew low and banged into it. On the third, the judge had to duck.

Finally, with my confused dog (Tabitha this time, my sensitive AmStaff), agitating at my side, the judge picked up the dumbbell and walked slowly toward me. “Just . . . get it . . . over . . . the jump,” she said. “Do it any way you can.”

I grabbed the dumbbell by the bar and hurled it. It bounced, then landed far to the right. Tabitha went over the jump after it.

In that long instant I realized what a mistake I’d made: All morning, I’d been using Tabitha’s dumbbell to work the broad jump — throwing it as she flies over and having her bring it back to me on the right side of the jump.

So Tabitha, being the quick study that she is, did not bring the dumbbell back over the jump, as she’d been proofed to do. Instead, she turned wide to the right and brought the dumbbell back around the jump. Then she sat, perplexed, at my right side. Why would she not? Good dog. I suck.

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