My dogs are fed a home-prepared diet, one that I would benefit from too if I were to follow it.  To ensure that their diet meets their minimum nutritional requirements, some vitamins and minerals are added as supplements, along with Cosequin and fish oil supplements.  Some are small tablets or capsules, others are large.  It doesn’t make any difference, Brit has developed a superior talent for avoiding them.  Every night we have a discussion about how these pills are good for you and that you are supposed to eat them. To which she simply smiles and looks me straight in the eye.  She also has a remarkable talent for returning, that is ejecting, what you try to insert down her throat.

So tonight I tried a new approach.  Reasoning.  Sometimes that works.  Especially when a cookie is involved.

I looked right back at her and said, “Brit, if you clean up every pill in your dish tonight, I’ll give you an extra cookie.”

It has been a long time, I can’t even remember back that long, since she has left her dish completely empty – not empty of food, but of those darn pills, after carefully working around them to clean up every morsel of food.  As with any child, skillful negotiation is the best approach toward success.  (At least for aunts)  I don’t know whether I was more proud of myself for the outcome, or Brit, but in either case, she cleaned up her dish – entirely!

She got more than an extra cookie.  It remains to be seen whether she has learned to hold her duties hostage for cookies or to clean up her dish more often.

I don’t tell this story because my dogs are smart.  Newfs are smart, that is a given.  But sometimes it is easy to forget just how well they can listen, and just how powerful of a motivator a cookie is.

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