When out walking with my girlfriend and her elderly Lab, the question of teaching old dogs new tricks circled in the recesses of my brain. Days later, the question wouldn’t leave me alone.

I called the most canine-savvy person I know, my friend Earlene Luke, former dog-show judge, handler, trainer, technical director of the movie Best in Show, and all around dog expert, and asked her the question: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

13-year-old Sally investigating a turtle.

13-year-old Sally investigating a turtle.

“Of course. Use a lot of praise. It’s easy to train an old dog.” We chatted further and she mentioned, “Some people think dogs are stupid … But, no!”

During our conversation she told me about a 12-year-old pooch in Minnesota that walks four miles every day to greet the people in his town as an example. My friend Earlene does not believe allowing a dog to wander around off leash is wise, but she cited the purposeful pooch an example of their intelligence. Although one must wonder about its owner.

This cat seems fearless!

This cat seems fearless!

What about cats? Can they learn new tricks or are they more concerned with teaching us? I once owned a kitty that would tolerate walking on a leash. Came in handy when going to the vet. But what did he do while I was sleeping or out of the house? My best guess is he investigated the kitchen counters.

How about people? I figure almost any teenager in this country has me beat in the technology arena. Do you think a person of sound mind is ever too old to learn to use a computer? Other than bad eyesight, what stops them?

What have you learned after age twenty? When I started attending church in my early thirties I could barely recall how to read music and my singing voice was ho-hum. I found a marvelous and brilliant voice teacher, who kindly took me under her wing. I also took classes through the U of W Continuing Education. Next step was performing in musical theatre or in U of W productions! Great experience, but terrible hours for a woman who prefers to write in the AM.

Fun singing in the University of Washington’s “HMF Pinafore” production!

Fun singing in the University of Washington’s “HMF Pinafore” production!

What do think stops some people from stepping out and signing up for the piano lessons, or watercolor or quilting classes they’ve always wanted to take? Or a language or sport? Why would a person avoid a new experience, such as visiting Amish country. Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing? What deters from venturing out?

Amish-made Table Topper from Lancaster County, PA.

Amish-made Table Topper from Lancaster County, PA.

Leave a comment to enter to win this exquisite Amish-made Table Topper from Lancaster County (22” diameter), plus a signed copy of one Novel from The Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy: either Leaving Lancaster, Pennsylvania Patchwork or Forever Amish. USA and Canada. Winner has one week to respond.

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