In reference to "Training to Be Top Dog, or How to Get the Upper Paw" Style Plus, July 1 , I beg to differ. Since my adoption into my family, I have had the "Upper Paw" with my owners, and they wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, now that I have trained them properly, they tell me that I keep house and family in order as they couldn't do without me.
It has taken me five years to train my family properly, but the effort has been well worth long hours and anguish. I sleep out of doors, in custom-built living quarters just behind the larger family home. Invariably, I am first to rise each day, and I find that I must awaken my parents to their work and responsibilities. On weekdays I rouse them at 5:30 a.m. so that they can prepare and deliver my breakfast of four slices of toast, covered with Mrs. Filberts butter and quartered for easy chewing. (Every now and then, my father forgets and halves the toast, so I just leave those pieces for the birds.) My family finds that this procedure clears sleepy minds and braces them for the workday. On Sundays, I allow my family to sleep until 8 a.m., but at that time I perform a civic duty for the entire neighborhood by awakening everyone for church. My mother calls this "barking for Jesus."
I also do my best to keep the household in order, but not without some sacrifice and hard work. It took my owners months before they realized that putting all my toys in a centrally located basket in the living room is much easier than their having to jump up from their seats every few minutes to find me a rawhide bone or a rubber ball. Of course, this procedure has also reduced the number of living room (sofa) pillows I was forced to de-feather out of frustration at not finding my toys. My mother once found two pairs of expensive shoes, which were carelessly left on the stairs, destrapped, heel-chewed and soleless. You can bet that she has since learned to put her shoes in her closet. It might seem to be a rough lesson for her, but a dog has to be firm.
A dog must also be willing to give a little in training its owners. My father believes he has taught me a repertoire of "tricks" to perform for company, such as shaking hands, lying down, rolling over. If it takes so little to please him and amuse him, I'll comply and enjoy the rewarding bites of cheese. Owners -- at times one has to humor them.
But training owners is just the framework of our life together. Beyond training, the affection and care that owners require is never ending. Regardless of the hour, day or night, I wake them at the first sign of a summer thunderstorm or a winter snowfall. I am then promptly asked to come inside, so that I can comfort my family against the onslaught of elements. Furthermore, I lie before my father each night, wearing a permissive smile, so he may administer a thorough rubbing and petting. He says it does wonders for his blood pressure, ever since he read that petting a dog relieves hypertension. I think I tore every other page from the magazine just so he might learn this.
I was troubled by your "Top Dog" article, but I suppose such thinking is a sign of the times. In a world fraught with military blustering, judicial intrusion into the bedroom and the unceremonious exile of a president's "unmanageable" dog, I am pleased that one is still allowed a dissenting voice. "Pack-leader" training may seem consistent with the Rambo era, but I would never be so rough with my owners.