Why fear is a great movitator

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dumb dog I have a Labrador called Max.

Max is very stupid.

He doesn’t understand that when a door or gate is ajar his head can push it open.

I have another dog called Molly.

Molly is very smart. She knows how to open doors, round up chickens, sheep and people. She is a lot smarter than Max.

Molly has always known how to open a gate.

The gate leads to the back garden and the dogs use it to return to the porch.

For five years I tried to teach Max to use his head to push a gate open. I tried treats, commands, encouragement and despair but Max kept barking until I opened the gate.

Eventually I gave up. I cursed Max every time he barked at the gate. Sometimes I’d let him bark for 10 or 15 minutes hoping he’d become frustrated and give the gate a push. Max just kept barking.

One day everything changed. On this particular day one of the sheep decided she didn’t like Max. While he was barking and waiting to be let in the gate she butted him in the rear with her horns.

Max jumped up and with a terrified whimper he pushed open the gate and rushed inside.

Ever since that day Max has been able to open the gate.

Fear is a great motivator.

Love is another motivator.

I love Max even though he is incredibly stupid.

Somewhere there is a lesson in that.

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Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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