According to the dictionary, Gabby means a “Chatty Cathy” who talks rapidly. But Golden Retriever Gabby’s name is the abbreviation for the Angel Gabriel. To be honest, the verb Gabby (“to talk incessantly”) also fits her.
I first heard the “loud angel” before arriving at the beach. She was focused like a pirate furr-vently digging for buried treasure in the sand, barking insistently with wild abandonment, calling to others to come and see her find. All you would find was a big hole, with a beautiful white Retriever happily digging to the earth’s center.
She placed a bright green tennis ball at the top of the hole then began digging. The ball rolled into the hole as she dug deeper and deeper, sand flying out behind her and spraying everyone.
Curious dogs approached and looked into the hole, thinking there must be a bucket of treats at the bottom given the digger’s enthusiasm. Some dog friends jumped in, barking and digging tail-to-tail with Gabby.
Meanwhile her dad, Bob, sat on a bench watching and keeping busy handing treats out to other dogs; he’s officially known as “Bob, the treat man!”
Bob packs four pockets with kibble treats and all the dogs at the dog park know it. On this day, he looked like the Pied Piper with no less than six eager dogs around his feet.
“I check with owners to make sure their dog doesn’t have allergies,” said Bob. “I’ve met so many dogs and their parents over the years. The dogs politely take their turns and wait patiently. I hold up a treat, call them by name and they step forward. Now, some dogs look for my car and come running when they see me arrive and wait for their treat. Their joy makes my trip to the dog park more meaningful.”
Bob, an avid tennis player for 40 years, knows about the “used ball box.” Last week, he collected and tossed out 500 neon-green tennis balls for the dogs. The dogs and their parents love this recycled treat.
It is a good thing that Bob is a human ball-vending machine because of Gabby’s penchant for balls. When he tosses her a ball, she chases it, carries it halfway back, and then won’t give it to him. The only way she will let it go is for Bob to have a pocket full of tennis balls.
He tossed a second ball and she dropped the first, taking off after the new ball.
“When I am tossing out recycled balls, Gabby and her cousin dog, Amber, operate like a furry-relay team. After Gabby retrieves the balls, she drops them halfway back, so Amber picks them up and brings them the rest of the way back to me” said Bob. “This can go on for the entire box of balls.”
Gabby has Bob trained; she won’t come in from the backyard until he gives her a treat, sitting patiently and waiting for him to “get the message” until he shows her a treat in his hand.
It’s the same for going outside: He has to toss a treat into the backyard for her to run out. It did not take her long to train Bob; he loves dogs and Gabby is stubborn — she knows how to wrap Bob around her paws.
However, there is one exception to her “treat” rule. When she hears Bob taking his meds, she knows it is time for her doggy vitamin. Her reaction? She snuffles out a “hmmmff” noise, turns and walks away as quickly as she does when the vacuum roars up.
“Dogs are intelligent and should earn their treats,” said Bob. “I tell a dog to sit, then wait, and hold the treat in front of their nose, not over their head. They wait until I say, ‘Okay, take it.’ I do this for all the dogs at the park and they learn quickly. Also, Gabby rebels at being brushed with a wire brush. It hurts her skin. When I use my wife’s plastic brush, Gabby lets me brush her until my arm falls off ... or my wife walks in the room!”
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