Mojo, our goofy 9-year old Aussie-Border Collie mix is spoiled rotten, and there is no use in denying it. Oh, we started out on the right foot. There was the Good Canine Citizenship class the three of us attended each Monday evening for six weeks when we first adopted him. With Michael and me taking turns in the training arena, four-month-old Mojo learned how to behave on walks, how to heel, and sit on command. A lot of attention was devoted to encounters with other dogs—the do’s and don’ts of canine interactions. We were relieved when Mojo passed his final exam, and received his certificate proving his fine doggie citizenship.

oct 2019 pet


Then there were the hours of Caesar Milan videos. From those we were introduced into a totally new world of dog training. Milan’s no-nonsense approach at times seemed a little over-the-top, and ultimately much of what we learned was discarded. Mojo is, first and foremost, a family member. We wanted obedience but we also wanted him to feel safe and secure, and get along with his feline siblings. We wanted him to enjoy his life as a dog.

As a herding dog, the cats were primarily the targets of his kettling instincts, but as a young pup surrounded by older and wiser felines, he soon learned they had no intention of being corralled from one spot to another. They were quite content to remain comfortably in place, and a swift, open-clawed nose swat was occasionally required to remind Mojo of this fact. Mooch, the elderly and now deceased black hound who came to live with us a few months after Mojo’s arrival, was another matter. Mojo was constantly compelled to nudge Mooch’s rump, herding him around the house or backyard like a wayward sheep. If Mooch minded this attention, it never showed. He’d obediently rise from his arthritic haunches and be steered into whatever direction Mojo decided was best for him.

These days our furry tribe has been culled down to just Mojo and three-year-old Bernie, our orange tabby rescued at Big Lots. Their relationship is amiable— Mo doesn’t try to herd him and Bernie leaves his dog treats alone. They’ve begun to play with each other a bit more, and for the most part all is well in this Peaceable Kingdom.

There is only one small hiccup the aforementioned spoilage.

Over time, we’ve grown older and lazier. In Mojo’s mind, it’s treat o’clock 24-7, and more often than not it’s easier to give him a Charlie Bear cracker or a cookie than to endure his sad, penetrating looks, his thigh nudges and incessant knee licks. These behaviors are designed to guilt us into breaking down and giving him what he wants, and shamefully I admit he’s trained us better than the good folks at the canine citizenship academy.

These days, Michael and I are usually prepared to give in to Mojo’s demands. After all, what’s the purpose of having a pet if you can’t love on them and spoil them a little? We are the first to admit our foibles, and have found humor in the fact that Mojo refuses to believe he’s only getting one small treat at each encounter. To prove to him I don’t have additional goodies I must spread both of my hands wide like a blackjack dealer getting ready to leave the table at the casino.

My, my, how the tables have turned.

Contact Deborah at for comments or suggestions.

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