Sunday, 13 June 2010

Janka shows it's never too late to learn

It’s been a breakthrough weekend for our dog, Janka. She’s a Puli, a breed sometimes known as Hungarian water dogs, a glorious irony in her case since for the nearly eight years she’s been on this Earth, she’s always been happy when the weather is warm to wander into water up to her middle, to cool off, she’s never shown anything but the most marked distaste for going so far as to get out of her depth and actually having to swim.

The right kind of water for Janka

Until this weekend, that is. Chasing a stick in a pond and realising she couldn’t get to it just by walking along the bottom, she took the plunge and swam out for it. And discovered she liked it! Since then, she’s been in several times with obvious enjoyment – although it leaves her pretty stiff when she gets home – but then at nearly eight she’s well into middle age. If you leave a form of exercise, even one that ought to be natural to you, until that late in life, you have only yourself to blame if the unaccustomed activity causes a bit of strain.


Of course, she hasn’t been wasting all her time while she’s been failing to swim. On the contrary, her apprenticeship in human social interactions continues unabated. Inadvertently locked out of the front of our house a few days ago, she didn’t just stand there and bark, but took decisive action. She walked to the end house of our row, up the side into the back garden, and apparently straight past the cat that she usually enjoys chasing – she must have felt that the cat would have been a mere distraction at a time when she had a much more serious problem to deal with: after all, she’d been locked out – was she ever going to be allowed back in? So ignoring the distraction, she stalked past and without so much as a by-your-leave, right into our neighbours’ conservatory. She went up to her good friend Jenny who was sitting there, and made it clear she required her attention.

Jenny walked her back to our house and knocked on the door, at which point we were able to make it clear to Janka that her exclusion really had been temporary and unintended. Janka didn’t actually thank Jenny for her help – her mastery of human behaviour hasn’t reached that stage yet – but by the way she flopped down on her rug and resumed her interrupted pursuit of relaxation, it was clear that she was highly satisfied with her achievement. As well she might be.

Enjoying one of her favourite occupatios, relaxation. With a friend

All of which goes to show that you can make breakthroughs, in both the physical and the moral domains, even in your later years. It’s never too late, as they say.


Davide said...

What an inspiration our Jabka is. Thanks for sharing this great tale!

Awoogamuffin said...

What happened to "you can't teach an old dog..."?

David Beeson said...

Trouble with that saying is that for a 'water dog' swimming really shouldn't be a new trick.