Training Pets: An Exercise In Futility by
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Ah, pets. Those adorable bundles of fur, feathers, or scales that waddle or paddle into your life, demanding cuddles and causing chaos with equal enthusiasm. But let’s be honest folks, the whole “training pets” thing is a bit of a myth, isn’t it? More like a hilarious exercise in futility, orchestrated by our furry overlords.

Now, before the PETA brigade storms my comments section, let me clarify: I love animals. I truly do. But I also love truth, and the truth is, most of us are kidding ourselves when we think we are training our pets. We are more like their unpaid interns, fetching tennis balls, scooping up “presents,” and pretending their incessant barking and purring is actually a complex form of canine and feline communication.

Take my dog, Pete. A lovable slobbery doggy with the attention span of a goldfish on roller skates. We went through all the motions of puppy training classes: the clickers, the treats, the endless “sit!” commands that achieved precisely nothing except a confused look on Pete’s face and a perpetual state of drool on my carpet.

You see, Pete, like most pets, operates on his own internal logic. He learned “sit” eventually, but only because it meant I’d stop the annoying clicking noise. “Stay”? More like a vague suggestion, occasionally honored if the treat situation could be seen as favorable. As for “fetch”? Forget about it. Apparently, chasing squirrels and digging holes in the garden were far more life fulfilling activities.

And let’s not forget the emotional manipulation. Those puppy-dog eyes? A masterclass in guilt tripping. That mournful whine? An Oscar-worthy performance designed to extract belly rubs and extra Snausages. We, the supposedly dominant species, are putty in their paws, dancing to their silent, furry tune.

But hey, maybe that’s the beauty of it. We may not be training them, but they are certainly training us. Patience, resilience, and the ability to clean up unspeakable messes – these are the valuable life skills our pets so generously impart to us. Plus, who can resist a wet nose nuzzle or a pet cuddle after a long day?

So, the next time you think you are training your pet, take a step back and have a good laugh. You are not the alpha dog, you are the lovable dolt who gets tricked into belly rubs with only a sad whimper. Embrace the absurdity, folks. After all, isn’t that what life with pets is all about? A hilarious, heartwarming, and slightly chaotic adventure where the only real training happens to our sanity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Pete decided the living room rug is his new personal chew toy. Time to unleash the power of the clicker – again. Wish me luck!


Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Khati Hendry says:

    Absolutely true—we have to be trained how to relate to other animals. That said, watching a true working dog at work (herding, sniffing contraband or earthquake victims, companion to the blind etc) is a true marvel of cooperation. Learning respect is key.

  2. Yep Kevin, we are indeed putty in their little paws.

    Our cat for example demands food on demand, and since he has an allergy, the only food he tolerates is very pricey. Of course I gladly incur the expense but wish he didn’t throw so much of it up!

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    You expertly describe the experience of being “putty in their paws”, Kevin. Very cute piece about the joys of trying to train your furry friend, who really trains YOU with his sweet/sad eyes and being so lovable. Who could resist? As Khati points out, some breeds are meant for certain work and really excel at it. I had a poodle growing up. They were originally hunting dogs (we never gave Nicky that fussy hair cut, but it actually had a purpose – it kept their joints warm when they went into the water to retrieve ducks). He was very smart and was easily trained as a puppy. He was adored by my father, who got more affection from the dog than from my mother after I left for college.

  4. Largely accurate. And explained with panache. But then you never met my dog Homer (see my story).

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this, Kevin. It’s so true. Only exception ever was my late grand-dog, Perfect Penny.

  6. Jim Willis says:

    Here’s to all the Petes in the world, Kevin!. The ones we have always keep us guessing, but then we call THEM the wonder dogs! They help complete the visual I get when Nick Nolte utters the line from The Prince of Tides: “It is the mystery of life that sustains me now.”

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