Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Magic Whistle

We had snow last night, so this morning our yard was clean and white.  I let the dogs out first thing this morning, and they happily frisked out into the yard. 

When I came back to let them in a few minutes later, I didn’t hear any frisking.  I didn’t see any frisking.  No corgis magically appeared when I opened the back door.  So I called them.  The yard was eerily quiet.  What was going on?  Where were my furry little troublemakers?  I stuck my head out the sliding glass door and leaned to the right.  Mystery solved.  The gate was open about 8”, and the snow was trampled down with paw prints headed out the gate.

I called The Trio a little louder than usual.  No response.  There was only one thing left to do.  Slip on my shoes and grab The Magic Whistle. 

What is The Magic Whistle?

The Magic Whistle is a dog whistle on a carabiner.  What makes it magic?  This whistle is super-charged.  Nothing bad ever happens when this whistle is blown.  The sound of this whistle means that treats are soon to be dispensed to the corgi who comes to the sound of the whistle.

My first dog obedience instructor – the one who taught Maggie and I that obedience is fun – stressed the importance of the word “come” always leading to something good.  To have a good recall, the dog must trust that come is fun.  Come always leads to good things and praise.  Don’t call your dog to you before giving it a bath, for instance.  Great in theory, but I’ve haven’t been able to make it work perfectly.    My dogs do have good recalls, but “come” has lost its magic.  After all, come sometimes means that I have to go to mom to get my belly wiped, or to have my leash put on after I’ve chased deer through the yards of a few of the neighbors (not that any of my dogs have ever done that – ahem Denzil).  In short, despite my best intentions, come is not as foolproof as it should be. 

A few years ago, a friend sent me a dog whistle, and I decided that the whistle was going to be special, and remain special.  The whistle would always signal food and fun.  To get this going, I grabbed a bunch of treats and the whistle.  Just like “charging up” a clicker, every time I blew the whistle I gave the corgis a treat and praise.  To keep the whistle charged, I occasionally grab the whistle when I have particularly yummy treats (roast beef that The Child wouldn’t eat, for instance).  I blow the whistle, and when the corgis come from all ends of the house, they get the treats.  Yum!

Since The Magic Whistle is always “charged” I can grab it in an emergency (like this morning when the Trio of Trouble was on the loose in the neighborhood) to get the dogs back quickly.  It worked like a charm this morning.  Standing near the gate in my PJ’s and robe, I blew the whistle.  Seconds later 3 very happy, self-satisfied corgis came running my way (for the record, Maggie was first, but then she is the pack leader, and the dog who loves food the most).  When they arrived, they all had a big, yummy biscuit waiting for them, along with lots of pets and praise for coming home.  I was particularly happy, as I haven’t “charged” the whistle in quite in a while.  The Magic Whistle works its magic once again.

BTW - on my way to work, I had a bit of a look around the front of the house.  Pawprints in fresh snow really do tell a story, and it looks like the corgis had some fun on their romp!  Here's some proof that they had fun at our neighbor's house:


  1. Really a good idea that I think we are going to steal. Thanks!

  2. The paw prints leading around the neighbor's house--it's a Family Circus comic come to life.

  3. That is brilliant! I am getting one for George! How was the event last weekend?


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