Emmet Story #6: Never Give Up!

One Saturday afternoon I was standing in my kitchen making lunch. I had decided to go simple that day and was cutting up slices of cheese to make cheese Quesadillas. As usual, the dogs were watching what I was doing intently, hoping that there would be some tragic accident that would cause cheese to go flying off the counter and into their waiting mouths. Emmet was ESPECIALLY interested, as cheese is one of his favorite treats. During his training, we had used small cut-up pieces of treats as rewards for doing behaviors that we wanted.

One thing about training dogs is that sometimes when you have a reward that they really want, they will start offering behaviors in the hopes that you will give them the reward. Although I wasn’t training Emmet at the time, he REALLY wanted that cheese, so he began offering behaviors. His favorite to behavior to offer was to retrieve things. As I was slicing the cheese, he disappeared for a moment and then eagerly came back into the kitchen with a shoe in his mouth. He excitedly handed me the shoe while he wagged his tail furiously and waited for his treat.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t really looking to reward him at that point because I wasn’t training him, so I just praised him for bringing me the shoe and went back to making lunch. Emmet new instantly that I wasn’t going to hand him any cheese, so he disappeared again. A moment later appeared again with another shoe, which he excitedly handed me. Just like before, I took it, praised him for getting it, and continued making lunch. This went on for several minutes. He would disappear for a minute and come running back with some object. He brought me three pairs of shoes, a bucket, a bunch of clean rags, and several other things. His persistence finally paid off when he went all the way to our master bathroom and found a laundry basket. Even though it was partially full of laundry, he dragged it out of the bathroom, through our bedroom, down the stairs and into the kitchen, where he proudly presented it to me. What could I do? After all that effort I relented and gave him a piece of cheese. Wouldn’t you?


Emmet had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma in July of 2008. He died on September 27, 2008 of an unrelated condition called GDV, more commonly known as bloat. He was 10 years old. For a photo tribute of his life, click here.

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