Many people feel that taking the time to train their puppy or dog isn’t worth the effort. What with everything else we have to do these days in our busy lives, whose got the time?
Kimberley was just like that. She’d never bothered training Jack…but then, one day…
Kimberly and Jack ran excitedly up to the top of the escarpment and gazed out over the deep blue ocean waves as they rolled in from the east. The sun was just appearing over the horizon, the cool sea breeze on her face made her feel completely alive, and Kimberley was as contented as she had ever been.
The time she spent with Jack, the 3 year old German shepherd she had rescued from the animal shelter a few months earlier, was the most precious part of her life. He seemed to know just what she was thinking and was devoted to Kim to the point of being a fanatic.
He wouldn’t leave her side…unlike most of the other male companions she had previously had in her life.
He gave her unconditional love, he was always there for her when she needed to talk to someone, he lavished his undivided attention on her, he never spoke back, and was always waiting patiently for her when she came home from her work at the pharmacy.
The early morning walks they shared helped her forget the many troubles in her life, and allowed her just enjoy herself.
This morning was special.
She was on the first day of her annual two-week vacation, and had plans to take Jack up to the mountains hiking and camping for a few days later in the week.
The thought of getting away from the pressures of daily life made her feel a rush of adrenaline and Jack could sense her excitement, yelping and barking playfully as they frolicked in the grass at the top of the ridge.
They played for over half an hour, then turned to head for home to have something to eat.
Maybe it was the excitement of it all, but for whatever reason, Kimberly wasn’t thinking straight as she undid Jack’s leash to let him run on his own through the grassy fields as they descended the hill towards the township below.
It happened in an instant.
Jack caught sight of a rabbit hiding in the grass and took off after the animal in a frenzied rush of excitement and playful enthusiasm.
Kimberley called him back, but he was totally focused on catching the rabbit and heard nothing but the creature’s cries for help as it raced towards the safety of its borough.
Jack was a beautiful sight to behold as he chased the rabbit in full flight across the grassy field. Every second he gained on the small creature, until he was only 10 feet behind it and closing fast.
But Kim was looking on in horror.
The rabbit had built its borough close to the edge of the cliff, and Jack was running at full speed towards the huge drop down to the ocean below.
Kim could feel the fear welling up inside her and she frantically called him back as she ran towards the cliff top herself. “Stop Jack!”, she cried, but he paid no attention to her commands as he chased the rabbit towards the cliff top.
Just 6 feet short of the cliff’s edge, the rabbit dropped into the safety of it’s home below ground.
Jack didn’t see where the animal went, and in the few seconds it took for him to realize that the rabbit had escaped, his momentum carried him off the cliff and over the edge.
Kimberley screamed as she saw her beloved companion disappear out of sight. “No!” she cried as she ran headlong towards the jagged cliff top.
She moved closer to the edge screaming out to Jack, praying that by some miracle, he had survived.
As she lay down to look over the edge, she saw Jack wedged precariously next to a tree stump on a small outcrop about 20 feet below, injured, but alive.
If he had gone off the cliff just 3 feet either side of where he did, he would have fallen hundreds of feet to the rocks below. His life had been spared, at least at the moment, by the narrowest of margins.
A huge feeling of relief welled up through Kimberley’s body as she saw that Jack was still alive.
She pulled out her mobile phone and called the police.
She quickly explained what had happened to the officer on the line and a team of rescue workers were dispatched to the cliff top to rescue Jack.
Kimberley watched on with trepidation as the rescue team carefully winched her beloved Jack to safety from the outcrop that had saved his life.
He had broken his left rear leg and had some cuts and abrasions, but on the whole, he was a very lucky dog that day…and Kimberley knew it.
She looked towards the sky and gave thanks that her best friend had been spared.
She promised herself that as soon as Jack was back on four legs, she would start to train him to obey her commands so that something like this could never happen again.
She felt guilty that her neglect at not training him properly from the start could have cost this beautiful animal his life. She felt sad but also happy that she had been given another chance with Jack, and she wasn’t about to waste it.
3 Months Later…
Kimberley and Jack are again able to take their early morning walks, but now, Jack’s lead is an option.
He obeys Kimberley’s every command, and they have a deep, new found respect for each other’s abilities that goes far beyond their roles of dog and master. They are truly great friends.
Maybe you don’t take your shepherd for off leash walks near cliff tops, but there are lots of hazards just as dangerous around your home that can cause your favourite pet to hurt himself…or worse.
Running into moving traffic, drinking something poisonous around your home, jumping the fence and getting into fights with other dogs…these are all situations that proper training can severely restrict or eliminate.
Think for a moment of how you would feel if your wonderful dog was injured or killed by a car right in front of you because he ran out onto the road despite your calls for him to come back.
Training is vital for every pet so that they know what is expected of them and they stay safe in an increasingly dangerous world. And properly training your pet is your responsibility.
Please, take the time to train your dog. If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of good books around to help.
Another option is to take him to obedience classes in your local area.
This is the most focused training you can give him (and yourself…) but it’s also the most time consuming and expensive.
If you have the time and financial resources, it’s usually the best way (if you can find a good trainer), but if you don’t, then reading a good training book and following it’s instructions will give you a solid grounding on how to train your dog properly.
Train him well, and he will reward you for it in so many ways that you can’t imagine.