Charlotte the Hoover

I’ve trained my dog to pick things up for me. It’s a great trick. I tap at something on the ground with my foot and she picks it up with her mouth and hands it to me. I originally started training her this trick as a form of punishment for tearing up a paper towel. My thought was, “Why should I have to pick that up? I’m not the one who chewed it up.” So, with clicker in one hand and a bunch of treats in the other, we began. She picked up the concept pretty quickly. Getting her to put it in the trash took a little more work. Half the time it landed on the ground next to the container.

I decided to expand this skill to include her toys. She only has about 15 billion of them because I’m an over indulgent pet owner. Just ask my husband. So, we worked on picking up our toys and putting them back in the basket. This one went a little rougher. She’d pick up a toy, put in the basket, take another toy out of the basket. And then another. And then she started dropping them in the trash can…I obviously failed to define the difference in receptacles. Okay. Better to have her hand them to me and I’d put them in the appropriate place.

This worked out great! We progressed from toys to stray socks, or things I dropped. I hardly ever have to bend down any more!

Well, because she’s Charlotte, she has a thing against stuffed animals being stuffed. Particularly if there is a squeaker in it. She’ll create a hole, remove the stuffing, remove the squeaker, remove more stuffing. I’ll rescue the toy, sew it back up and return it to her. Often she commits these murders in her crate, so I don’t see the stuffing at first because it’s not in my line of sight.


Charlotte in the crate of shame.

Well, one morning last week, I’m sitting in my chair, having my morning coffee and here comes Charlotte with a big old piece of fluff in her mouth. She walks up to me and deposits it in my lap. My eyebrows go up and I say in a surprised voice “good girl!” and I give her a treat. She trots off and moments later, here she comes with another piece of fluff. So I give her another treat. And this continues until all the fluff is picked up.

Now, every morning, while I’m sitting in my chair, here comes Charlotte with a piece of trash. And yes, for every piece of trash she gets a treat. These are hardly big treats. I keep cat treats on hand and she gets one or two depending on the size of the piece of trash. But even this she seemed to figure out. Suddenly she’s picking up three and four pieces at a time and bringing them to me. Of course I reward her with more or bigger treats.

Here’s the truly funny part though. This morning she ran out of fluff and bits of paper to bring to me. So she brought me a feather that had escaped from my down blanket. Then she brought me a hairball one of the cats had hacked up. Now if I could only get her to sweep up all the fur she sheds I could stop cleaning all together!


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