Nintendo and the dog . . .

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I never thought I’d say it, but . . . thank you Nintendo.

After countless hours spent staring at a two inch screen, my children have finally realised that the skills they learn on their DSi’s can be transferred to the real world.

No, they’re not cleaning their rooms or doing their homework without complaint.

They are, however, training the dog.

Or should I say attempting to.

And the credit goes to a computer game called Nintendogs. If you’re not familiar with Nintendogs, it’s quite simple (if a little pain-staking). You get a dog and have to care for it – feed it, water it, clean it, walk it, train it and play with it. You earn money to pay for your pet supplies by entering competitions.

This is how my kids have come to rediscover their dogs.

As of this week, my backyard is now home to an agility course for dogs. There are logs to jump, planks to walk, a trampoline to jump on (and off), sticks to wind your way between and even a tunnel to run through.

My sprightly 15-year-old Maltese has taken to it quite well. Tess, who is blind, deaf and showing periodic signs of failing health, has not, though she doesn’t seem to mind.

But the kids are determined. Maggie is harnessed up twice a day and put through her paces. She knows there’s food involved so she’s quite happy to do as she is prompted. This is a dog who was never taught to sit because she was already so short and only learned to stay by accident.

So far, there are no signs of a natural hidden talent for agility, but I’ll keep you posted.

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