The expression “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” originated in 1534, in a book John Fitzherbert’s The boke of husbandry. The meaning behind it is that puppies are teachable and trainable while older dogs are unwilling and less apt to be trained. Many have used this phrase to illustrate how getting people, especially seasoned ones, to change their habits or acquire new skills is impossible.
My four-legged babies have definitely proved this statement to be false, and I challenge you to do the same. Through them I have discovered that this statement simply isn’t true if your heart is soft and willing to learn. I have also learned that life is an experiment, to push the limits and test what is possible.
I have seen this first-hand with my 12-year-old Golden Retriever, Corey. In dog years, 12 is pretty old. He has cataracts and sometimes walks with a limp; recently he barks randomly like he hears a mailman somewhere.
When Logan (my husky) was smaller I started to train him to sit, stay, and speak. You may have seen the video of him saying “I Love you” in my first blog. It took him many tries and lots of treats to say the phrase. Corey sat through the process but started to notice that Logan got a lot more treats than he did. Corey wags his tail and sits still, sometimes lays down on command but that was about all he wanted to learn…until he noticed MORE TREATS for the dog who could talk. Huskies are vocal because they are friendly, pack animals. Golden’s are friendly too, more loyal and watchdog like. They prefer back-scratches to conversation, until talking = more treats.
Corey interrupted our training by growling, then barked three barks – 1 short, 1 medium and then a longer one for emphasis. I was shocked; he was proud. He also got a treat. Logan has moved on to more tricks and Corey tries to keep up.
The lesson here is never stop learning and growing. Try something new or refine a skill by:
- Taking a class
- The list goes on….
A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5).
Don’t wait to create a bucket list; seize the moment!
Jen, Corey and Logan