Sunday, November 24, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

Millie was enjoying her visits with Mike and Goldie.  Mike was savoring those home-cooked meals that Millie prepared whenever she came to visit.  Most of all, they both appreciated the savings that occurred when they went grocery shopping together.  Millie loved to use coupons and plan meals with the food that was on sale.

Mike just loved to spend time with his two favorite girls, Goldie and Millie.

Millie was practicing the dog training skills that Ruth had been showing her.  This was positive reinforcement training or as Ruth told Millie, “I call it ‘training with tools of love.’”  

Goldie quickly learned the lessons of Sit and Down.  She even enjoyed the Give Me Your Paw trick. 

The latest training challenge involved Goldie's being left alone.  Goldie enjoyed Mike's and Millie’s company and saw no joy in being left behind. 

Ruth suggested using a “mind game” to keep Goldie busy and happy.  She explained the use of the Kong toy as a “mind game.”  Millie purchased several Kong toys to use to keep Goldie pleasantly distracted. 

The Kong is a brand of toy.  It was a hard rubber cone which had a small hole at one end and a larger hole at the other end.  Treats are placed into the large end and then something sticky, like peanut butter, would be used to seal the treats into the toy.  The Kong toys were given to Goldie just before they left the house.  The Kong toys would keep Goldie busy as she chewed and licked to get those delicious treats.  This was an enjoyable distraction for Goldie and kept her occupied for hours. 

Goldie began to look forward to their leaving because she got this special toy filled with delicious treats.

On one particular day, Millie had gotten the treats together and was ready to fill the Kong toys.  She then discovered that the Kong toys had been hidden throughout the house.  Mike saw Millie get down on her knees, crawl around the floor, and look under every overstuffed chair and cabinet.  “Millie! What are you doing?”  Mike asked. 

Goldie had been closely following Millie’s movements.  The look on Goldie’s face seemed to also ask, “What are you doing?”

Frustrated, Millie tried to explain her problem, “I understand that Goldie likes to hide her special toys, but I wish she would understand that if I cannot find the Kong toys, I will not be able to fill them with the treats!” 

The Kong toys were soon found, and the treats were packed into the toys.  Just before Millie and Mike left the house, they handed the toys to Goldie. 

When they came home, Mike was the first to enter the house.  He began to laugh and couldn’t wait for Millie to see what he had found.  As soon as Millie came in, Mike began to wave at her and said, “Come here!  You have got to see this!” 

Millie started to walk toward Mike and asked, “What are you so excited about?” As she got nearer to Goldie’s crate, she discovered what had made Mike so excited.  Looking down at the area in front of Goldie’s open crate, she saw all the Kong toys lined up in a row.  

It was as if Goldie said, “Here they are!  No need to search for them anymore.”

Laughing, Millie turned to Mike and said, “Goldie really does understand everything we say!”


With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, near-final material from this instructive novel by dog trainer Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through  UNDERSTANDING SASSIE  

I coached and edited for Helen through my Write Your Book with Me endeavor.

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