|"Don't even think about it."|
As such statements of purpose go, the Dickens Doctrine is breathtaking in its clarity and brevity:
Article 1: Toys
Section 1: All toys belong to Dickens.
Today, however, there were signs that Dickens' hard-line attitude toward toys is changing. As previously mentioned, Daisy doesn't care much for toys, with the exception of her tennis ball. I've been trying to teach Dickens that he should let her have that one ball to herself. Success in this endeavor has been spotty. Often he swoops in and grabs it from her before I can stop him and then runs off until I corner him and make him give it back. The command "Leave it" hasn't yet penetrated the outer layers of his brain. But this morning was different.
The method I've come up with for playing ball with both dogs at once is to stand in the middle of the yard and throw Daisy's ball one way, and Dickens' the opposite way, timing it so one dog is always farthest away while the other is nearest to me.
While we were doing this, Daisy's ball took a bad hop off the fence right into the returning Dickens' path. Dickens arrowed toward it like a missile, but at the last second he looked at me, and as our eyes met I swear he thought, "Uh-oh," and he changed course back toward me. When he got to me I gave him all the praise I could, and I think he understood he'd done a good thing.
When something like that happens, when a dog starts to really get it, all the frustrations and annoyances and setbacks you've experienced up to that point simply vanish.