Tilly the Wonder Dog, Part Deux

by Steve Barber

A while back the nice Erma ladies took pity on me and let me post something here about Tilly the Wonder Dog, my new Australian Shepherd. Well, Hunny and I have learned a few things about her since then so it's time to update.

First of all, Tilly isn't exactly an Australian Shepherd. What she is is an Australian Cattle dog. Big difference. The Shepherds aren't really Australian. The Cattle Dogs are by virtue of their Dingo ancestry. And as I'm sure you know, Dinogos are wild dogs that would just as soon eat your face off as shake your paw.

If you missed my original Tilly post (and shame on you if you did) you might remember Hunny and I adopted her from the Huron Valley Humane Society. She'd originally been in a kill shelter in Tennessee, but the good folks at PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin' ® moved her along with several of her closest friends to the Ann Arbor facility, which has an excellent placement record. They wormed her, neutered her and removed two broken teeth. I imagine it must have been a pretty traumatic time for a dog who'd been surrendered by her original family to have to suffer the indignities of shelter life and veterinary medicine. But she came through it with flying colors. In fact, the only residual problem is that her missing teeth cause her to bark with a lisp--more like an “Arfth” than a real bark. But it doesn't seem to bother her as long as we don't laugh about it in front of her, so it's all good.

Tilly's had some...issues. A two year old dog, she'd never been housebroken. We're still working on it, but it's getting better. She had no training in even simple doggie tricks like sit, stay, sit up or  keep out of my garbage. And she suffers from a terrible separation anxiety problem when she's left alone. Hunny had just the answer. “We'll take her to puppy obedience school,” she said.

“But she's not a puppy. And she's not obedient. You'll be wasting your money,” I said.

“My money? Nuh-uh. Your money. I've already spent enough on her.”

She was right. What could I say? So off we went to doggie school.

Six weeks of intensive training later, Tilly had learned to sit on command most of the time. Okay, some of the time. But you have to understand, she learned that skill in a hostile environment. She does not like other dogs, and she had three dog classmates.  So it was pretty amazing for her to learn anything while she was paying more attention to their unprotected soft underbellies than she was her lessons.

The training program offered a cap and gown ceremony too. If you check out the picture above, you can see the obvious pride in Tilly's eyes as they awarded her her diploma. That this picture was taken mere moments before Tilly lunged for the throat of the huge Labradoodle a few feet away makes it all the more meaningful to us.

Hunny's hired her own Doggie Whisperer now in hopes of building off of that progress. Check back next time and we'll see if Hunny's Cesar has been able to help Tilly cross her personal Rubicon.

Steve Barber lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Hunny and Tilly the Wonder Dog. When he's not writing he spends his time applying antiseptic to the cuts, scrapes scratches and bites visited on his person by his new, favorite dog. He recognizes now that ten years is too long to be “between dogs,” and urges everyone to visit their local shelter first thing tomorrow. Look for Steve's short story, Arkie Studabaker's Very Bad Day in No Rest for the Wicked, a Rainstorm Press anthology, available, like, now.


  1. Herding dogs are very intelligent and loyal dogs, so I'm certain she'll get the hang of things in no time. When she darn well feels like it, that is...

  2. Love the cap and gown picture!

    OMG! Angie! Is this where you've been?

  3. Tilly is very much an alpha bitch, and in spite of the ample opportunity for jokes here, I absolutely refuse to make one, ladies. :D

    She's pushy, but she's loaded with sweetness as well. I just wish she wouldn't step on my head and gnaw on my nose when she's trying to wake me up in the morning is all.

  4. I call that dang small-minded of you, Haggis. Stepping on your head and gnawing on your nose is her way of expressing affection. Are you trying to repress her?

  5. She's stepped (how shall I say this?) "other places" too. Hard. Like whilst leaping onto the bed. So call me small-minded if you must, but she's gonna have to learn not to do that. I refuse to wear a cup to bed.

  6. The truth is, if we females are cute, we can get away with anything. Go Tilly!

  7. Hey! This is good news! It's great to hear that Tilly is making such good progress. She'll have you all trained, pretty soon. :)

  8. She's working on it, Gail. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.