My Workshop Buddy


We began having a dog in the family when our two children were toddlers. Like other parents, we found that canines and kids do a good job of entertaining each other. And for reasons I have yet to understand, the fun of training a dog seems to spill over into the task of training children. 

Today, our appreciation of canine companionship continues, even though our kids have grown up and moved out. What I’ve learned over the years is that not all dogs are cut out to be good workshop buddies. Just like humans, some dogs prefer the quiet, comfortable ambiance of the home while others enjoy the creative chaos of a workshop. I’m pointing out this difference in order to give thanks for Ollie, who’s nudged out some tough competition to become the best shop dog I’ve ever had.

The kudos for choosing and training Ollie belong to my wife, Barbara. But I can take credit for getting Ollie acclimated to the high-pitched whine of a router, and understanding (most of the time) the difference between wood scraps that can be used as chew sticks and those that need to be saved for future projects. 

My drive time buddy is better at making friends (and getting free food) than I am.

Hey, being a shop dog is hard work!

In return for the occasional belly rub, Ollie is happy to hang out in the shop as any project progresses, unbothered by the mess, the mistakes, and the occasional profanity. We do, however, have a difference of opinion about the ratio of break time to work time, and the importance of snacks. Apart from napping and snacking, Ollie’s favorite shop buddy activity is being my wingman as we do errands in the pickup truck. Our drive time together is pretty special, and not just because of the doggie treats I keep in the glove compartment. No topic of conversation is off limits, and what my companion lacks in verbal skills, he more than makes up for in expressive looks and timely tilts of his head. As we make the rounds, Ollie really enjoys seeing his friends at the hardware store, the deli and the supermarket. Fact is, he’s better known around town than I am. 

The life lessons Ollie provides sure are helpful: See the good in every person you meet. Do your best to enjoy every day. You’re never too old to run or have fun. If I can spread half as much good karma as Ollie does, I’ll be one happy human. 

Show off your shop dog. Post a picture of your pup on social media and mention @woodcraft_magazine with #ShopDog.

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