On 2/5 we acquired a 4-5 year-old field English Setter stuck in shelter hell since at least November. His name is Boomer and he's excellent. Upon entering our home with three Newfies he immediately got the message that he's low man on the totem pole. When he saw our cat, Shitty Kitty, he was overcome. Clearly here was good bait. Well, maybe not. Mr. Kitty proceeded to march right up to him and telegraphed an important message about the pecking order. Check. Read you loud and clear. Most evenings Boomer and Mr. Kitty can be found curled up on the sofa together.

Boomer does have one flaw: outside means hunting time. He is forever on the chase and alerting to whatever small creature may be around. The other day we were perambulating down the block when a loud bang burst forth from a construction site. Boomer stopped, cocked his head, and when the boom/shot happened again, the hunt was on. All of which served to have me flat on my you know what, sliding down the sidewalk, legs straight out, like a Looney Tunes cartoon. Thankfully no YouTubers around.

So Boomer got a personal trainer. Someone convinced me to call in the positive reinforcement people (otherwise known as clicker trainers). Thankfully the clicker has been replaced with voice commands and treat rewards. I was skeptical about the methodology but have become a convert. Boomer is now sporting a handsome magic halter and I've got this groovy new command "Watch me" that really works. Even better, it works on people including punk teenagers. Turns out that animals, human and otherwise, can't resist responding positively to eye contact accompanied by a happy yet commanding voice and a smile. And there is the secret to getting your way in life. No charge.


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