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Training A Butterfly

            Butterfly peed on the living room rug. She started by peeing on the hardwood floor in front of her food bowl, but then it was the rug, in front of me. She may have thought we kindly went out and bought her an expensive, floor wide, wee wee pad. She had been, mostly, potty trained, but this reminded me that I needed to get back to work.

Butterfly and her rug.

Butterfly and her rug.

I haven’t been very focused on training Butterfly since we moved to the new apartment in May. My big goals, since she came home from the shelter last November, were: to train her to pee and poop outside, and walk on a leash, and climb stairs, and respond to her name. And she learned everything, at her own unique pace.

            Cricket had her own list of skills to teach Butterfly, like the appropriate way to greet humans when they return home (jumping in the air and hyperventilating), and how to really walk on a leash (pulling your human where you want to go), and how to bark to get what you want.

Butterfly can now beg for food while standing on her back legs.

Butterfly can now beg for food while standing on her back legs.

            Butterfly has also learned, on her own, that she can say no. If we take her outside, and she pees right away, she will sit down on the sidewalk and stiffen her neck, because she has finished her work and does not want to walk any further. This is the first time I’ve seen, up close,  the biblical image of a ”stiff necked people,” all in one tiny dog. She is, if possible, more stubborn than Cricket. She doesn’t bite or bark or whine, she just refuses to move. And when her mind is made up, it stays that way.

            My renewed training efforts have been focused on teaching her the verbal commands Cricket learned in her puppy classes, like “sit” and “down.” Cricket is an impatient role model, though, and expects twice the treats for her efforts to show her sister the ropes, so we are running through chicken treats at a very fast clip.

The girls are ready for their chicken treats, um, training session.

The girls are ready for their chicken treats, um, training session.

            I’d never really planned to do this kind of training with Butterfly. I figured, at eight years old, after a life in a puppy mill, she shouldn’t have to work so hard. And really, she is as close to perfect as she could be already.

Butterfly, already her best self.

Butterfly, already her best self.

            A few months ago, I noticed white butterflies massed in front of our apartment building, specifically in front of our building, and not the ones on either side of us in the complex. They fluttered all over the place, in packs, kissing leaves and being beautiful and doing as they pleased. Logically, I’m sure, they are here because the plants in front of our building are especially attractive to white butterflies, but I would like to believe that they recognized that my little white dog was their kin, and they came to be with family, and train her how to be a butterfly.

The butterfly family, checking in.

The butterfly family, checking in.