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Phoebe Comes Home

Date: March 20, 1999

Finally! We’re shopping at North Shore Animal League. The puppy room had cages along two walls side by side and stacked up to six feet with a little ball of fur in each. Thank goodness there isn’t a cat or kitten in sight! We really hoped to take our puppy home today.

And there she was! Oh, those black circles around her amber eyes. The fluffy brown & black fur. The pokey little tail (which would grow into a long, full, collie-like tail). We asked to hold her, and when she was handed to me, we knew she was what we had been hoping for. She rolled onto her back in my arms, and someone who worked there said, “Oh look, she’s a submissive dog.” (Really?!? That’s another story…)

When we got Phoebe home, I waited in the car with her. I loved this bonding time with my new pup. I spoke softly to her about the fun we’d have and the love we’d share, all the while gently stroking her back. Meanwhile Frank went inside to put her crate together. He also put Dibbs in a room so we could give them a chance to sniff through the door before meeting in person.

Phoebe was extraordinarily smart. This isn’t mom talk. She immediately took to the crate and never had an accident indoors (except for the time we were driving her crazy with a laser light and she peed on the carpet – our fault, not Phoebe’s). Frank got a training book and set to work teaching Phoebe everything she needed to know to be a great boat dog.

Phoebe Reading Her Training Book

Phoebe Eating Her Training Book

And just for the skeptic readers who don’t believe how smart she was, here are a few examples:

From day one, Frank had the great idea to make Phoebe stay on the first floor so Dibbs could have his own space. Our bedroom was upstairs in sort of a loft area with no door. No matter what cat shenanigans went on up there (we ended up with two more cats…another story for another blog), Phoebe would lie at the bottom of the steps, listening and waiting for the invitation the cats never gave her. She was such a good girl.

One of the first commands we taught her was “come” so that if she ever got away from us, she’d come back on command. You’ll see how that works out in The Famous Phoebe of Long Island: Phoebe’s Adventures at Sailors Haven. However, it worked great in our fenced yard. When she was outside, we’d call “Phoebe, come!” out the kitchen door and she’d come right in and get her treat reward. Eventually, Phoebe would put her paw on the door to be let out and when I did, she’d go out and turn around (not even bothering to go down the three steps) and look at me for her treat.

We found ourselves spelling often:

  • I’m taking Phoebe for a W-A-L-K.

  • Let’s go to the P-A-R-K.

  • Are you ready to go to the B-O-A-T?

True story: Once I went to Frank and said, “I’m going to P-E-T-C-O.” Phoebe jumped up from her sleep and came to me with her tail going wild and barking to take her with me.

And what about Phoebe and Dibbs? They became great friends. Actually, it was more like Dibbs was Phoebe’s big brother. He would let her play with him, and when she got too excited or if he had enough, he would bop her on her nose a few times, but never with his claws out.

Next: How our dog became “The Famous Phoebe of Long Island”

How smart is your pet? Please share a great trick you’ve taught your fur-kids.

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