Sudsy solution for our 'party pooch'

Have you ever taken a close look at bubbles? The way they waft on breezes and carry themselves through space? They are round and seem to have a little iridescent square in them that reflects the light.

You carefully place the bubble wand before your lips and gently blow. Sometimes large beautiful bubbles emerge. Sometimes nothing emerges, and the bubble solution sputters to the ground.

I have always known that bubbles were fun. But I had no idea that bubbles had so much to offer until my puppy, Albie, taught me the power of bubbles.

Albie is a goldendoodle - a golden retriever-standard poodle mix. Being a first-time dog owner, I was determined to do everything right. Cautioned by our vet to make sure Albie had some training, as he was very smart, we enrolled Albie in puppy kindergarten.

When we took Albie to puppy kindergarten he had a joyous time. He romped and played and rolled with the other puppies. Perhaps he played a little too much, as he got the reputation of being a "party dog."

I tried to work with him, but he seemed willful. And, like any other juvenile delinquent, he found the others like him. It was embarrassing because the trainer told me that he was perhaps the smartest dog in the class.

But Albie was training me.

As our last class approached, our trainer informed us that all the puppies should know a trick. Performing that trick would be part of their graduation process.

I panicked. I could barely get Albie to pay attention, let alone learn a trick. I consulted the many books my husband and I had bought as new dog owners. One suggested simple things, like sitting in the grass with your dog or throwing a ball. The most intriguing was to blow bubbles with your dog.

As a puppy, Albie had boundless energy and much preferred jumping on me to chasing balls. So I tried the bubbles.

Fortunately, the first ones were big, fat round bubbles. He loved them. He looked at the bubbles floating by and jumped right up to bite them.

We continued our game and called it "Bubbles." Albie began to respond to the name of the game and the blue bottle of bubble solution. Chasing all those bubbles also wore him out. For that, I was grateful.

The last two weeks of puppy kindergarten were pressure-packed. The dogs needed to learn how to sit, lie down, and stay.

Try as we did (and maybe we didn't try hard enough), Albie would not lie down and stay, or sit and stay.

At the last class, our efficient trainer pulled out chairs and cards with instructions: sit, stay, etc.

There were about 10 puppies. The first puppy to break its position was out.

You can probably guess what happened. Even in his strong suit, sit and lie down, Albie was the first dog out. I was embarrassed. Albie was romping and playing.

Then came the finale. One dog rolled over for treats. Another had an arsenal of two tricks.

The pressure mounted. I was hesitant to play "Bubbles" because everyone else had such complicated tricks.

Finally, I said, "We have one, but it isn't really a trick."

I feared that Albie would be distracted by all the dogs and people. But I felt I owed it to Albie to try. Here was his chance to live down his "party dog" reputation.

My husband handed me the bubbles, and Albie's head jerked up.

He sat and waited. I put the wand to my lips and blew a perfect row of bubbles. Albie jumped straight into the air and ate each bubble.

With a look of amazement on her face, the instructor said, "Now that's a bird dog."

Albie won the "Best Trick" certificate, a dog biscuit, and the respect of the others in the class, especially that of our trainer. He really only cared about playing - and the treats.

Albie taught me an important lesson, and not just about the versatility of bubbles.

I think that Samuel Butler said it best in his "Note-Books" (1912): "The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

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