Finnegan, my Britanny Spaniel, is wrapped in the flag as he "celebrates" his 12th birthday while recovering from ligament surgery on his back leg...
Meet Finnegan, my Britanny Spaniel. He’s pretty typical for his breed: so sweet tempered, affectionate, highly intelligent, gentle. His natural habitat – the couch, preferably curled around a human – in close proximity to treats. I have never seen him so much as snarl – even when Delaney, now 10 months old and much larger than Finnegan, tries to gnaw on his legs, one of which is recovering from ligament surgery.
Like Misty, Finnegan is a graduate of three levels of obedience and four agility levels. Unlike Misty, however, Finnegan will never be a Therapy Dog in This Life...there is one very, very important command that he just never learned: “Leave It!” Finnegan is absolutely incorrigible in one respect... he’s a habitual food thief.
One component of a Therapy Dog certification exam is the dreaded “Oatmeal Cookies on the Floor” test. A plate of cookies piled with cookies is simply left on the floor. As Handler, your task is to walk your dog in proximity to the plate of cookies... and then... if your dog shows interest in the cookies, you give the command: “Leave It”... and the dog passes that component of the examination simply by walking past the plate, leaving the cookies intact and untouched on the plate.
Well. If Finnegan was put to this test, he’d be straining to pull me toward the plate even before our turn. Legs scrabbling, ears flapping, all that would remain would be a sheen of goober across the plate. And then it would be over.
The rationale for this part of the certification exam is that Therapy Dogs should not be scarfing food off patients’ plates. As well, all around a patient’s bed are bags of stuff: clothes, books, intriguing whiffs of chocolates, cookies, inviting morsels of meals that have tumbled from food trays to the floor... and possibly medications that have fallen from a patient’s hand. Therapy Dogs, therefore, should not be snuffling around these objects like they’re underbrush concealing quail. They must obey The Command. “Leave It!” There can’t be an “Or Else”.
And so it is that sometimes we have a wonderful family dog who also is a wonderful Therapy Dog... And sometimes we have a wonderful family dog who remains a wonderful family dog.
Happy Birthday, Bubs!