I scared myself the other day looking at ASPCA's enormous list of toxic plants. Whenever Caitlin and I go for a walk, she finds all sorts of things along the route and puts every one of them in her mouth. I'm now feeling as though she'll get poisoned for sure unless I snatch everything away or manage to train her not to touch anything without permission.
So far I haven't been able to do either of those things. I'm beginning to realize that I am not the stuff of which great dog trainers are made.
For one thing, you have to keep your mind on what the dog is doing, watching it all the time. I'm the opposite of that--which is why I was never successful at teaching children. My mind would wander and all discipline would be lost.
For another thing, you have to be relentless. You have to correct the dog every time it strays from virtue. Since I already wasn't paying attention and am not nearly as stubborn as Caitlin, I fail again on this score.
You also have to be consistent. Like my father before me, I am a dreamer, not a doer, an eager beginner of projects that get abandoned as soon as something else takes my fancy. I am not particularly good on the follow-through.
I was successful with my previous dog, Heidi, because Heidi was willing and able to train herself. She did what I wanted as soon as she understood what it was; and she was bright enough that she almost always understood.
Caitlin has her own agenda. I fear I'll have to improve my own character before I can improve hers.
There is at least a chance that Caitlin won't poison herself. ASPCA lists 559 non-toxic plants.
If she finds a hubbard squash on one of our walks, I can let her go ahead and eat it.