Jones turned 1 this week.
Not for his sake, but for the sake of The Kid, we celebrated. I made a birthday cake. Don’t laugh. If you google ‘dog birthday cake recipe’ (OK, you don’t need to do it, just trust me), there’s a plethora of suggestions, all with hundreds of reviews, suggesting that there are a heck of a lot of people out there making cakes to celebrate their pooch’s birthdays. Who would have thought?
I zeroed in on a recipe. Let me remind you – a baker I am not. Attention to detail is also not one of my strong points, so when I read “275 degrees” in the recipe, I did fleetingly think ‘gee, that’s hot.. and for 40 minutes? Are they serious? Oh well, I guess so. In they (the muffin size cakes) go..’ I did turn the temperature down to just over 200 and set the timer for only 30 minutes. But by the time the bell rang, they were already blackening on top. All over actually. Hard, black rock cakes. Nothing like the picture. The Celsius temperature was provided in brackets, but I hadn’t noticed that.
Taking one of the cakes, I sliced off the burned bits (leaving, well, not much to be honest), stuck it in Jonesy’s bowl, with a candle wedged into it, and we sang Happy Birthday.
The Kid loved it. Jones was not so keen. I think the hat really annoyed him.
But the candle on his cake was the final straw. And so he went and hid in the agapanthus.
We won’t be doing cakes and candles next year.
Anyway, turning one’s a bit of a milestone, and so I figured it was about time that we take stock. An appropriate time in fact to conduct a performance review. I have a professional background in Human Resources, and I’ve learned the value of review and feedback to improve performance.
I decided to rate him on 3 key competency areas: companionship (the reason we get dogs, right?), obedience (critical to ensuring everyone enjoys the experience) and entertainment value (a funny dog is a great dog to live with). So, how did he rate?
Companionship | 9/10 | Exceeded expectation
Examples of Jones’ companionship include:
– he follows me around like a shadow.
– he likes to lie at your feet wherever you are.
– when we walk through the paddocks, he stays close.
– every time he jumps into the car, he assumes his horizontal position at the feet of The Kid.
– he’s very protective of The Kid and when he’s with him he stays alert and keeps an eye out for danger, always.
Obedience | 7/10 | Improvement required
I remember an article in the Sydney Morning Herald some twenty years ago, profiling the 10 most popular dog breeds. It included the usual suspects – amongst others, Border Collies, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Staffordshire Bull terriers, and of course the Jack Russell terrier. For each dog, they rated them on a number of categories. Under the heading ‘Trainability’, for the Jack Russell, it simply read: “Good Luck.” No exclamation mark, just those 2 simple words. They were not joking.
Bearing that in mind, Jones is pretty darn good. He comes when you call him (mostly) and he sits on command (generally) and he also stays put on command (so long as he doesn’t sense an exciting game at hand). We feel we’ve made tremendous progress, but as his rating suggests, there is more work to be done.
Entertainment | 10/10 | Significantly exceeded expectation
Jones makes us laugh, each day. Examples of his funny habits include:
– bouncing like a rabbit on springs through long grass in order to see where he is going. It’s seriously funny to watch.
– jumping into and swimming in Bec C’s bird bath. Yes, bird bath.
– launching himself off verandahs, jetties, out of cars, off the tray of utes, like Super
– dragging his bed around with him in the evenings, following me, or Hubs, or The Kid. He stops each time one of us stops and he lays out his bed and curls up on it, even if it’s on the bathroom floor. As soon as you move again, he’s up and dragging his bed behind him.
– falling asleep each night with the soft edge of his bed in his mouth, like a child may suck their thumb.
Speaking of his bed, he’s given it a real work-out. Here it is when it was only a few weeks old. Hairy yes, but whole. It was also plump and cozy.
Here it is 9 months later, completely bereft of life.
Luckily they’re only $8, so I went and bought him a new one recently.
Poor Jones came into our household with a tough role description. He could not have had any idea of the paws he needed to fill. Our hearts were still hurting after loosing our beautiful Spencer and we were looking to this new little buddy to help speed up the healing process. While we were dubious (Hubs more so than me), we gave him our best shot. And sure enough, 10 months on – he has us, hook, line and sinker.
(One morning, I couldn’t find Jones anywhere. Of course, I didn’t think to look on the outdoor table).