The same recipe?
Geschreven door Carolien Oosterhoff
Feb 15, 2024

The same recipe?

I’m at the coffee shop where my favorite vendor just retired, still hesitating slightly to place my order. After all, having heard ‘the same recipe?’ every month for the past 23 years, I’ve become quite attached to that shopkeeper who knew his customers. So, it’s a bit of a wait-and-see situation to gauge the level of courtesy I’ll encounter today.

As I wait my turn and the new lady behind the counter assists the customer ahead of me, I’m training Bobbie. I’m teaching her that if she stays quiet (no barking or whining), she gets a treat. I’ve already stopped the barking, but the occasional whimper still slips out. A sound guaranteed to grab attention. People then start meddling (offering unsolicited advice on what I should or shouldn’t do) or petting her (sometimes disregarding what Bobbie actually likes). And frankly, I just don’t enjoy it myself.

The customer ahead of me has a ton of orders, so I take advantage of the situation with the ‘clicker’. For those who don’t know, when Bobbie is quiet, I mark that behavior with a clicker device, and a treat always follows the sound of a ‘click’. That’s the protocol. A clicker marks very precisely. And always in the same way: always the same sound, always the same pitch, always the same number of decibels. Something you can’t say about our voices and words. Hence its popularity. Because our dogs love predictability.

Dogs are masters in connecting the dots. Bobbie already knows that the sound of the clicker means a delicious treat is coming. Now I’m teaching her that the behavior she exhibited just before the clicker is what’s desired. She’ll make that connection herself over time. “Aha, if I’m quiet, there’s a click, and if there’s a click, I get a treat.”

For this, Bobbie needs to be in the ‘sit’ position + keep her focus on me. It’s going incredibly well. She’s squatting, eyes focused on me, and there’s not a whimper to be heard.


Customer orders some more. Bobbie stays put.


This goes on for a bit. Great. She still recognizes the command ‘sit and quiet’. I’m pleased because it’s been a while since I used the clicker.

Then, just briefly, as the customer keeps on ordering, a whimper escapes Bobbie. I break eye contact with her (because that’s also a reward), turn my head away, and look out the window. My body language affects Bobbie too, and I deliberately use that.

The brand-new lady behind the counter, who hasn’t deposited anything in my emotional bank account yet but already noticed I was training Bobbie, manages to say, “Well, that’s not going to work with that training.”

Instantly, I decide I’m never coming back here. I’m offended on behalf of my dog. If that’s how it’s going to be! Then I’ll just shop online, I think with righteous indignation. Tssk! Bobbie is darn well doing her best and has been quiet for almost 5 minutes!

The customer finishes packing her load and leaves the shop. If only Remco were here, I say to myself, and I grumpily place my order. “The same reci… I mean: two times 250 grams of Medium Blend from the house. Level 8.”

Bobbie is back next to me, working hard. Not a squeak!

The door swings open, and just as the coffee grinder stops its familiar racket, a new customer walks into the shop. She needs to wait a little as well, looks at Bobbie in the meantime and then at me and says, “Your dog is behaving so well!”

That customer gets a big smile from me. “Isn’t she?” I say proudly.

Divine intervention, I think. Some things just sort themselves out.