You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

When Leo was a puppy, he needed to be taught how to do everything from coming when called, to relieving himself outside, to learning that if food was left on a table or counter that it was not an invitation for him to help himself!  At some point, he learned, or used his instincts to help him retrieve objects when thrown – tennis balls, sticks, you name it, he would chase the soaring item and sure enough, bring it right back to whoever initiated the “game.”

At nine years old, Leo, a beautiful Golden Retriever who prances when walking (perhaps due to his father’s famous show dog lineage) has shifted his approach to retrieving.  Yes, he will still occasionally be enthused by the stick throwing routine, but these days, Leo has his sights set on a much more creative approach to play.

Instead of waiting for an object to be thrown and then capturing it, Leo initiates a whole new approach to fun.  Most mornings, he can be found racing through the Swift River trails en route to a quieter open space where there is a sandy spot that has easy access to a slower moving part of the river.  Upon closer view, one will notice that Leo is actually surveying the shallow waters and then hand, or paw-selecting a river rock.

Sometimes the transaction is seamless, and he is able to secure the rock in his mouth before bringing it up to higher ground, proudly dropping it near our feet and going back for more.  Other times, Leo may choose a rock that is too big for his mouth span and he will relentlessly try to capture it, nudging it with his nose – usually heading in the wrong direction away from the shore – whining at it and if really frustrated, barking profusely.  I am in awe of the whole fascinating process!  The fruits of his labor have been collecting over these summer weeks and he now has garnered quite a river rock garden!

As I wonder at how amazing Leo’s new development has been to observe, I am reminded that an old dog can learn new tricks!  Taking a page out of Leo’s book, and with the guidance of many writing legends – past and present – I am creating this blog to have a place to share my life moments – immense or miniscule – of any size.  It is here that I am committing to living a writerly life so that I can be a more authentic teacher of writing for my fourth grade students.  Cheers to all teachers as we get closer to the new school year ahead on the horizon.




12 thoughts on “You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

  1. Cheers to your commitment of living a writerly life! I am fairly new myself and began the journey in March during the month-long writing challenge and I haven’t regret a single moment. I’ve learned so much and have learned about other people as well, near and far (mostly far) and am fascinated by it all. I know you will be too! Best of all, your students will be the lucky ones, benefiting from all that you’ll be learning! Good luck to you and your fourth graders on this journey and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your support! You are my first comment – a special honor! I tried commenting on others’ posts, but wasn’t allowed except as anonymous. I need to do some research on how to gain permission! Best wishes to you on your writing journey, too!


      • Welcome to blogging. I am a newbie blogger as well.
        Thanks for sharing about Leo’s rock garden. Are you going to post picture of it?
        You have one beautiful lab. Your writing made him going for rocks come alive for us. I can hear him barking and nudging the rock with his nose and see him running to you with one in his mouth.
        Are you able to post on other’s blogs now? I would like to invite you to come and visit my blog.

        Best wishes.



  2. Cute dog! 😉 Kudos to you for getting out there and trying something new! You’ll definitely learn so much about yourself, about the craft of writing, and about how to be a better writing teacher. Welcome to the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your establishment of “living a writerly life” is certainly off to a great start! I often wonder what dogs are thinking when they do what they do. Certainly you have displayed your respect for his newly-found hobby and his diligence in pursuing it; this post, lovely and smile-producing, is proof of that. I can hear him barking. Thanks for a great Slice!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome to our writing community. Your story about Leo and your analogy to yourself “learning new tricks” by becoming a blogger brought a smile to my face over morning coffee. And what a lovely photo…I felt like I was there right beside Leo in that stream. I could smell his wet doggy scent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and enjoying Leo’s adventures. I have now been writing regularly for almost a year and am so grateful to this community for the platform, encouragement, and continuous supply of outstanding writing! He smells fishy at the moment – might have something to do with the fish oil we give him daily!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved that you wrote about your dog! Today was my first day in a long time writing in my blog. As I approach turning 50, I realize that it is never too late to try new things. Your blog post reminded me of that and how important it is to my students that I continue to grow and learn new things. I can’t talk the talk with my students if I don’t walk the walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your encouragement to those of us past the “puppy” stage of life. I love your story and the idea of never being too old to start new paths. New habits take work but as you encouraged, it can be done. I have never valued writing for myself but want to start a new path on my way to becoming a better writing teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

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