Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks?



During a trip home to my native Ireland I witnessed “Oppo the wonder dog” accomplishing a un-before seen feat – at least for me – time after time. It made me pause and think you can teach an old dog new tricks if it is done with a soft touch, or in this case a soft mouth. Oppo lived in a rural western part of Ireland where fences do not exist and chickens truly are free range. On my daily walk I would randomly come across fresh laid eggs, sometimes in the ditch on the side of the narrow road, sometimes in the middle of the road and yet again in the foliage that ran along the shoreline. “ Who will ever find these eggs I thought to myself? ” Enter Oppo, field left…. I watched in amazement as this large black dog foraged through the overgrown grass and emerged with an egg in his mouth.

He seemed to be in no hurry and accompanied me on my return walk, egg still securely in his large mouth. When we got to his home he walked through the gate and gently laid the egg in a basket already holding several other eggs. With a wag of his tail he gave a little bark and before long a lady emerged from the depths of a bountiful vegetable garden treat in hand. After getting his treat off went Oppo on the quest for more eggs. Seeing the look on my face this lovely lady said “He definitely saves me time by doing this and it gives him a purpose and a challenge.” “But how I asked incredulously?” “He just came home one day with an egg so I praised and rewarded him. The next day he was back with more, the more he did it the better he became. He learned that to bring an egg back intact took a soft mouth. He was rewarded for the intact eggs and I just ignored the broken ones.”

Imagine in life if we lead with a soft mouth, what impact would our words have? What impact would our work have? What purpose or opportunity would be possible?




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