When our dog was a puppy, we worried about how to teach her to respect the comings and goings of all the delivery and service trucks that visit the farm. We shouldn’t have had any angst, as over the years Miss Mollie has been spoiled to the point our biggest fear now is that she’ll sneak along with one of them someday.
Mollie will turn 10 in April and has everyone from the garbage truck driver to the postal carrier wrapped around her front paws. She is 7/8 black lab and 1/8 border collie, which means she is naturally bouncy and gregarious. She has learned to respect the wheels, but once a vehicle is stopped, it is hard for her to contain her excitement at meeting and greeting each and every driver.
A friend who has worked with retrievers most of her life once remarked, “They are the kind of dog who will greet you at the door with a frantically wagging tail and happy grin, and even if you are a burglar they’ll go, ‘Oh, you want help carrying that out? Let me, let me!’ and then proceed to take it to the vehicle and deposit whatever it is for you.”
While Mollie isn’t as well trained as my friend’s dogs, she holds her own in the farm dog category. She knows her favorite garbage truck driver brings dog treats and when that truck rolls into the yard, she runs to sit in the “safe zone” while the garbage container is lifted and dumped and then jumps up for her treat from the driver’s window.
The FedEx and UPS (Brown) delivery truck drivers come and go quite frequently, bringing pieces and parts for the farm equipment or for my various orders for clothing, household cleaners, photo equipment and so forth.
Nearly all of those drivers keep dog treats in containers in their vehicles, as dogs come and go on their routes and they need to keep on the good side of some of the more cantankerous ones.
Our friendly gal quickly picked up on this fact and has taken to bounding up and INTO those delivery vehicles to check out the treat container. On one of the colder days recently — and there have been plenty this winter — she made it all the way to the back of the truck before realizing her treats were right up front on the dash. The amused driver, realizing she had some manners after I told him she would sit and stay, made her get out of the truck and sit before she could get her treat.
Some dogs are a tad sneaky in searching out those delivery truck treats. One driver told of the time a farm dog had ridden through two stops before he realized the little thief was hiding behind some larger boxes chowing down on some crunchy goodies robbed from his sack stash.
Others are carefree in their abandon. A pair of black labs at one farmstead continually bowl the driver over in their haste to welcome him, and then bounce through the truck and back before realizing the treats are already in his hand.
On occasion, Mollie hits the delivery lottery. One snowy day she was out and about when first FedEx stopped with a package for Hubby and she got double treats because of the cold. Not even five minutes later, Brown pulled into the yard with a delivery for me and Mollie, in her eagerness, bounded up and in the open door. It took two treats to bribe her out so the driver could continue on his way.
I’m positive she totally had that planned, because when she came up to the front door as the truck pulled away, she was grinning from ear to ear as only a retriever can.
Freelance journalist Barb Bierman Batie grew up near Battle Creek, Neb., and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She has written for local, state, regional and international publications and joined the Midwest Messenger crew in 2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.