When I was still a toddler, my dad brought a puppy home. His name was "Rookie," because my dad would say he felt like he got "rooked" (cheated) when he paid $5.00 for him. But he got so much more than his money's worth. Rookie was a most wonderful family dog. We could climb on him, pull up his ears, and put him in a doll carriage to take him for a ride. He never complained, never snapped, and gave the unconditional love only a dog can give.
By the time I reached my thirteenth birthday, Rookie was becoming an "old dog." Yet he handled the arrival of the new usurper, "Scuffy," with his typical grace and acceptance. This had to be a stretch for him, as Scuffy...like all new babies in a family...was getting lots of attention.
One day, Rookie taught us all a lesson I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life. I was having great joy teaching Scuffy tricks. Rookie had never been taught a trick that I recall. Maybe to "shake hands," but even that I am not so sure of. Scuffy LOVED doing tricks and getting the "Pup Corn," which was his reward. In fact, he loved getting the rewards more than he loved the rewards themselves. Maybe that is because they came with praise and hugs.
One day I started to teach Scuffy to sit up. Before too long, he was able to master the trick. I remember one day asking my father why Rookie could not do any tricks, and he told me that he was too old to learn new tricks. After supper one night, I called Scuffy to the table to show everyone his new trick. I held up a bit of leftover meat and said, "Sit Up, Up." Scuffy proudly sat up tall...you could almost see a smile on his face.
Then, to the shock and amazement of everyone at the table, Rookie sat up right next to him. At 13 or 14 years of age, for a dog, that would be pretty old to be learning a new trick. Especially one we had never even taught him.
You see, it is very important not to judge the abilities or capabilities of of another. When we really want something, and believe we can have it, nothing is impossible! We never saw Rookie stressing out over Scuffy's tricks,we never saw him attempting to sit up. Yet he never faltered. When he sat up, he sat up, as well as Scuffy ever had with all of the coaching we had given him. Fortunately, Rookie either never overheard us saying he was too old, and it would not be good for his back or he chose to teach us a thing or two. I know it was not the Pup Corn or extra attention, because there was always plenty of that. Whatever it was, however, this is undeniable proof that old dogs...AND PEOPLE...can learn new tricks!
What "new tricks" would you like to learn? I invite you to take a lesson from Rookie. He saw what he wanted. He watched, and held the thought that he could do it. He saw that the other dog could do it and did not question his own abilities. What if we could do that? We can!
So...go learn a new trick already!
Rev. Alicia Leslie
Spirit of Unity