In October, Jun will be 5 and Elo will be 4. They will have been with me for 4 and 3 years respectively. And lately I feel like they are so mature. Like I am finally reaping the rewards of the work I've put in and I now have trained dogs. They know the expectations. They follow them, usually. They don't need as much help to do what I want them to do. I can put them in a down-stay and expect them to pretty much stay there, no matter I'm doing, until released. I can clip on a leash and expect not to be hauled around. Sometimes, they chill out on their own. They don't need to run daily for long periods of time to keep from going insane. We can go for walks (down the block) and it's (almost) enjoyable. Rarely do I use "commands." I just talk to them. And they talk back.
Once, a long time ago, before I was even really into dogs, I heard somewhere that it takes 3 years to have a really trained dog. Obviously, you can teach the basics in weeks, but I think this is what they meant. It takes time to build this kind of relationship. And I think it will only get better. I hate to think of my dogs getting old, but I really want to know what it's like to have an old dog, that has grown with me over 10, 13, 15 years. What kind of an understanding can you have with a dog you have known and who has known you for that long? If any of my dogs makes it that long, I'm guessing it will be pretty cool.