Life with Bertie — Impulse Control Edition


Keith explains the concept of impulse control to Bertie.

It wasn’t long after Bertie came to live with us that I realized that he was a walking, running, chewing, peeing, pooping and whining personification, er, puppification, of “id.”

Not the fanciful kingdom in the numbingly subpar cartoon “Wizard of Id.” I’m talking the dominant source of personality, according to Sigmund Freud. According to an AboutEducation.com article by Kendra Cherry, a “psychology expert,” the id is one of three components of personality.

The id includes all instinctive and primitive behaviors, is present from birth and “is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality,” according to Ms. Cherry. “The id is driven by the pleasure principle which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants and needs.”

In other words, if it feels good, do it. And do it NOW.

In Bertie’s pea-brain, it means: Hey, I’ve got to poop. I’m going to poop here. Hey, those trousers look chewy like they would be fun to play with, I’ll lunge for them and pull on them. Hey, that nose looks funny, I’ll bite it.

Freud said the ego is the responsible component of personality. It acts as an editor for the id, so that the id’s impulses “can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world,” Cherry said. Bertie has no ego. Let’s not even get into the super ego.

So our main goal with Bertie is to help him develop a healthy ego that might act as a governor to his id’s desires. This means that we’ve been working on Bertie’s impulse control.

“In human psychology, impulse control refers to people’s ability to delay gratification or resist their immediate desires, impulses or temptations that could harm them or others,” according to the ASPCA which has an excellent website that includes humane ways to train puppies, aspca.org. (This is not a joke, it’s terrific.)

I have my own problems with impulse control, with issues ranging from watching television to eating chocolate. But I set my hypocrisy aside and explained all this to Bertie.

Oh sure, I had to boil it down to match his stage of learning development.

It goes like this: “No, Bertie. NO! … Stop that Bertie! NO. No, not there! Aww, Bertie. NO! NO! NO!’

I’m happy to report we had a breakthrough yesterday. There was a “Good dog. … Oh, wait. No, Bertie. No. Not again. (Deep sigh.)”

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