Old dog, new tricks


 “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a common phrase that means it is challenging to teach a person something new, usually because that person (or pup) has been doing things a certain way for so long that they’re too stubborn to learn how to do it differently.

Well, I have an old dog and she recently began proving this sage wisdom wrong on a daily basis. 

Ruby is a 9-year-old Plott Hound that my wife and I adopted from the Fayette County Animal Shelter as a puppy. 

She was very active in her youth but began slowing down (and gaining weight) last year. We’d take her on walks but she struggled to make it beyond a few city blocks.

Her joints were clearly soar, as she labored to scale the stairs in front of our house. 

Perhaps sensing Ruby’s dwindling spark and pluck, my wife decided to adopt another puppy last month from Memphis Animal Services. 

Enter Coda, a 7-month-old Pitbull mix who is as inquisitive as he is buoyant.

After spending his first few weeks stalking our two cats (they are fine and even gored his muzzle a bit), giving chase to every squirrel in the neighborhood, and even wearing out our hyperactive 6-year-old son, Coda set his sights on a new playmate. 

Ruby didn’t take to the aggressive play very well at first. However, after a few attempts, Coda found a way to win the old girl over. 

Now it is not uncommon for us to walk into the family room and find the two pups tugging on a rope, wrestling with tails wagging, or sharing a toy. 

When Coda gets a little too playful or bites a bit too hard, Ruby effortlessly puts him in his place, usually resulting in a few yips and yipes. 

Ruby has also shed a noticeable number of pounds and seems to have her spark back.

So, though it might seem unlikely for us to “learn new tricks” as we get older, there is always something out there to push us out of our comfort zone and help us get our spark back.