Dear Old Trainer: I have been without a dog since I lost Alfie the Beagle 10 years ago. Your writing brought back memories of how wonderful the love of a dog can be, so I adopted Annie, a 4-year-old heeler. I pick her up in two weeks. How do I make an older dog feel at home?
-- Lynnette, Cheyenne, Wyoming
A: First, walk Annie around her new house and yard. Explain what you are doing and what you expect of her. She will read your body language and understand the message.
Show her where her water and food dish will be, then let her explore on her own. Praise her and love on her when she wants your attention, but correct her if she does something that will not be allowed. Remember, Annie will never do anything wrong once she knows the rules.
Take her outside every hour and stand in the yard with her. If she goes to the bathroom, praise her and tell him what a smart girl she is.
When she finds a place she likes in the house and settles down, pet her, then place a blanket or towel in that spot so she knows it's her place. If she goes to sleep leave her alone while she naps. All dogs need a refuge where they can relax.
At bedtime, take her out to go to the bathroom. If she doesn't do it in 3 minutes take her inside, then back out in 15 minutes. Once she does her business, pet her and praise her.
Place bedding where you expect her to sleep or let her choose her own place. Her choice will be in the room with you.
Congratulations on putting the love of a dog back in your life. There is nothing as pure as that love. Humans are incapable of giving unconditional love, but that is the only kind a dog has to give. Capitan, a German shepherd, is living proof.
When his owner died in 2006, Capitan disappeared. The family searched, but never found him. When they visited the cemetery they discovered Capitan sitting on his owner's grave.
He had somehow found the cemetery where his owner was buried and located the grave, although he had never been there before. He has been there ever since.
He walks the grounds at times during the day, but at 6 o'clock each evening he returns to the grave and curls up for the night. The family took him home several times, but he always returned.
Capitan feels the same as Lorena at the end of Lonesome Dove as she stands alone by the body of Gus, the love of her life: "They'll all forget you, but I won't Gus. Whether it comes morning or night, I'll think of you. They can forget you, but I won't never, Gus."
Capitan's love for his master will never end. Morning or night, Capitan is by his side, protecting him until they are together again.
To see Capitan at the gravesite, go to http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/
Jack Haskins writes as The Old Trainer. A trainer for more than 30 years, he has rescued, trained, and placed more than 2,000 dogs. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.