How’s tricks

Maddie, she is 12 years old. She qualifies as an old dog. Does this mean she cannot learn new tricks?? Actually, age has nothing to do with it, she’s almost entirely resistant to most training. She’s not at all food motivated and if you try to train her with treats she flips out and shuts down and won’t pay one bit of attention to you. Luckily, we can get her to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ and ‘leave it’ (‘leave it’ is very important when you are walking your dogs and you come upon a pile of 6 or 8 dead mice collected at the mailbox of a house where you assume some sort of fucked up Hannibal Lecter cat resides.). She doesn’t do tricks, she can’t sit up or beg, rollover or play dead. But still, I managed a not-quite-miracle.
The kitchen lies between the living room and bedroom and the kitchen is covered in an expanse of too-smooth laminate flooring.
You know when they try to dumb down quantum dillwhackery and they show you a ball and they drop the ball and then they show you all 11,000,031 possible options for that ball and the ball is just springing all over the place and now 11,000,030 new universes have been created because of that ball. That’s what Maddie’s legs look like when she crosses the kitchen floor. 44,000,124 legs flailing about around her hippohead. It doesn’t help that her vision is poor and getting worse.
Sometimes it’s funny to watch her flail about but mostly I have to consider that we have downstairs neighbors who have real jobs and regular schedules. Our schedule is more… fluid (or irresponsible, depending on who’s looking) and I think the downstairs neighbor does not need to listen to the birth of millions of universes at 3am. David would sometimes carry her across but that’s not really a solution.
I tried walking across the floor with her. I wasn’t sure it would work, but we tried it. We would get ready and then start walking across the floor and she actually was able to figure out what I was trying to teach her. I got her to walk with me and I talked to her, giving her encouragement all the way across the floor. When we got to the other side it was all crazy praise and hugs and treats and excitement! HOORAY!! She did it! She got all the way across the floor!! At first she would get about 3/4 of the way across before slipping and panicking, but that was okay, she still got all the huge praise and hugs. And we did it every single time, every trip ended with major excitement and celebration. When she reached the other side she would whip around, piggo going a million miles an hour and puff snuzzle joy all over her face.
Then she got even better. Not just not slipping on the floor but also catching herself when she started to slip. She would even go faster than me so she could reach the other side and turn around and get even more awesome hugs because she did it by herself. Sometimes when I am working in the kitchen she will walk by, usually living room to bedroom and then stand in the doorway and wait for me to notice and give her the 1,000,000 hugs she totally deserves. And, still, even now, she gets the same super excitement praise, partially because she did a good job and mostly because celebrating with Maddie is just so damned fun.
This might all make it seem like Maddie is some intellectual lightweight, but that is not true, she has a very keen scientific mind. She says that the Planck length is the only unit of length measurement that is necessarily wider than it is long. She posits that it is a good thing that photons don’t have mass. If they did then the entire universe would be filled with butterscotch pudding (and she insists that I make it clear that ‘butterscotch pudding’ is just a visual metaphor for what it would be like for photons to have mass. If you opened your mouth and let the light in you would only taste the light which sort of tastes like dust and orange peels). She notes that life would be completely different because you’d be able to suck the light into yourself when you inhaled and that would make breathing difficult.
She also opines that Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and The Tortoise, along with the finite measurement of the Planck length, are proof that infinity can’t exist except in people’s head. Nothing scales forever and eventually you have to cross the finish line. She and Chester argue a lot about this one, but mostly the logic on both sides is pretty circular.
Maddie’s a good dog with a mind much deeper than you would expect. Right now she is trying to remind me that there is life beyond the front door and I should be prepared and protect myself from it. She is also trying to tell that extra-apartmental life to stay away from our tiny, boxy universe.