Senior Dog Otto Gets a Pass

Senior Dog Otto Gets a Pass

Some years ago, I read a short piece by one of our long-time contributors, Barbara Dobbins, talking about dogs she knew, including one of her own, who had achieved the age and status to have earned a “permanent hall pass.” I was so charmed by the piece that I asked Barb if we could publish it here as a blog post and she agreed.

At the time it was published, my darling Otto was five years old – in the absolute prime of his well-behaved life. And today, he is 13 years old, and I renew his permanent hall pass every few months, as it gets stained and torn with use.

Otto is always the first dog in a group to correctly perform any cued behavior – and is ready for the next cue.

Don’t get me wrong: Otto is still a Very Good Dog. If dogs are being asked to perform a variety of behaviors on cue and the prize is treats, he can still sit, down, stand, and back up faster than any other canine on the property. He wouldn’t dream of chewing up our human things, or jumping up on people rudely. And he’s always going to be WDJ’s top model – knowing just how to jump up on an object and hit a pose and even find his light.

But there are a number of things that dogs are not allowed to do here in my home or on my property, and Otto has decided, “To heck with it, I’m doing them!” And, precisely because of his long and distinguished record, we now look the other way when he sneaks a cookie off the coffee table, snarfs down the horse poop we come across on the trail, digs in the winter vegetable raised beds, or chases the mail truck along our fenceline, barking furiously the entire time. Oy! That last one is hard for me, especially because I am hosting an impressionable young foster dog who would absolutely love to join Otto in this fun activity (Coco now gets shut in my office at a certain point in the afternoon when the mail truck usually makes its rounds). But he has earned these privileges, in honor of his many years of near-perfect behavior.

And, bizarrely, because of course a dog doesn’t know about cameras, he always knows how to find his light…

I don’t know how much more time I will get with Otto, but I’m not going to spend any of it yelling at or even being annoyed by his new naughty behaviors, that’s for sure.

Do any of your dogs have a permanent hall pass?

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