Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

This is Jordie, who is 11 1/2 years old–which means that he doesn’t want to hear much about anything new in the world. Frankly, he’s got enough responsibility to deal with just handling his rather demanding snowman doll, the occasional Kleenex that needs rescuing out of the trash can, and of course, lobbying for more carrots.

Despite this, I bought him a bed.

I put it on the carpet next to our bed, where he has slept since he first came to our house when he was a puppy.

I said, “Here, Jordie, come here! Come here and look at your new bed.”

He came and looked at it. Then he looked at me.

I said excitedly, “This is your new bed! Look! A brand new soft bed for you!”

He looked at me and tilted his head to the side, obviously wondering if I had lost my mind. Do I not have enough to keep track of in this house? And now you’re expecting me to –what? What will satisfy you people?

“It will be good for your hips,” I told him. Then I went to the kitchen, and fifteen minutes later, I was surprised to hear a muffled swishing sound from the hallway as well as grunting sounds. He was dragging his bed to the kitchen.

That evening, he tried hard to drag it everywhere, making low gutteral talking noises to it, like he does when he’s giving instructions to his snowman. (Already, the snowman has had to be punished several times, and as a result is missing one of his rope arms.) You could see it was hard work, pulling and pushing this huge fluffy bed around the room. He’d have to stop every once in a while, just to glare at it for being so much trouble. Once he laid down across the room from it, and just eyed it suspiciously, refusing to close his eyes when it was in the room.

When it came time for bed, I took it back in our bedroom and put it in his spot. He stood there uncertainly, looking at me and then at the bed. Then finally he got in his spot, curling himself up in a tiny little ball so he wouldn’t have to touch the bed.

The next morning I found it in the middle of the room.

We went on like that for night after night. Finally he stopped trying to drag it around, or to reason with it through growling–but still every night he curled his huge self up so he wouldn’t impinge on its space.

And then one night–I was just about to put the thing up in the attic, figuring that this was just one more tactical mistake I’ve made in figuring out what people really, really need–and voila! He just figured it out. He was standing there looking at this bed, and you could almost see the light go on behind his rheumy old eyes.

My god, what if this isn’t another stuffed animal I have to carry in my mouth and teach life lessons to? What if they’re not expecting me to civilize this thing?

Without any more fuss, he plopped himself down right in the middle of the fattest, most cushiony part of the bed–and he’s slept there ever since.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, I guess. It just takes about six weeks.