Pitts: Teaching a young dog old tricks
My shrewd buddy Everett came by for a visit today. I haven’t seen him for a while because he’s been hauling stock, driving his John Deere and learning how to operate a backhoe.
Everett came by because he got a new saddle and he needed a couple D rings sewn on. I’ll try to get it fixed fast because he needs it to ride herd over his ranch.
Like me, Everett likes working in the shop. So when he came we wet a couple pieces of leather and he tried out a couple new stamps I made. He couldn’t stay as long as I would’ve liked because he had to get home and feed all the animals.
Did I mention that Everett is all of two years old?
His John Deere is a small ATV that runs off a 12 volt battery and it has a bed in the back where he loads up one of the family’s dogs and goes for a joy ride. At least it’s a joy for Everett.
As for the dogs, well, they’re border collies so they are patient and willing but judging by their collective countenance, they’re a little leery of Everett’s driving.
One set of Everett’s grandparents owns a dirt-moving company, so for Christmas they got him a plastic tractor with a fully functional backhoe attachment. I suspect they’re trying to steer him into the family business, but that won’t be easy because he’s showing signs he’d make a great stockman.
Everett’s already got a rope and I hate to see what happens when his new baby brother Caleb gets old enough to run. Second sons always have rope burns around their ankles.
Everett is exceptionally bright and you should see the things he can do. Mind you, his parents aren’t pushing him. They’re just exposing him to a lot of different things and if he shows an interest, they are using it as a teaching situation. He soaks things up like a sponge.
We’ve all seen on television 5-year-old concert pianists, adolescents who could sing like angels, 6-year-old pole benders, juvenile tennis stars and so on. All because their parents weren’t afraid to teach and expose their children to new wonders at an early age.
My father figure was my Grandpa and he taught me how to fish, but my biggest regret is that he didn’t teach me how to rope; so later in life I had to teach myself. If his belt buckle I wear is any indication, Grandpa was a pretty good team roper and I treasure a photo I have of me sitting in his saddle with him at a rodeo when I was only one. My biggest thrill as a youngster was going to his house and sitting on his saddles in his bunkhouse. But a sawhorse is a poor excuse for a rope horse.
Another important person in my young life was Benny, the wonderful Japanese man who worked for my Grandpa fixing appliances. He instilled in me a love for fixing things and even though that’s not how I make my living, Benny has enhanced my life in so many ways.
I only wish I would have picked up leatherwork and engraving at an earlier age so I could have enjoyed them all my life. It takes a lot longer and is a lot harder when you have to teach yourself. Especially if you’re as bad a teacher as I am!
My mother paid the bills by working 14 hours a day as a seamstress and she was a great one. And although this may sound feminine of me, I sure wish she’d have taught me how to use and time a sewing machine because I have two sewing machines now for my leatherwork and it took me a long time to master them. I had a million questions to ask her but she had passed away by then.
You want to know who the luckiest kids in the world are? It’s not the richest, or the ones with the bluest blood. It’s the kids with parents, grandparents and friends who take the time to teach them things and in doing so give them confidence that they can achieve anything they set their young minds to do.
Maybe you can’t teach an old man new tricks, but you can sure teach a young one.❖