You may have a dog that won't sit up, roll over or even cook breakfast, not because she's too stupid to learn how but because she's too smart to bother.
~ Rick Horowitz, Chicago Tribune
Special K and Toast
The Blue Shoe
Check a Sheila Video
9 July 2004
I remember listening to Olivia when she acquired her "perfect dog," Skippy, from a local dog shelter "adopt a dog" event. She called and raved about how he had no bad habits, how he was quiet and easy to live with and how she had lucked out with this great dog.
And I remember laughing at Olivia when she called to say that Skippy seemed to finally decide that he was "home" and that she wasnt going to kick him out, and that he had reverted to type, running roughshod over the house. Things got so bad that she ended up enrolling him in the not cheap Doggie Day Care.
Im not laughing any more.
It seems I have the same changeling on my hands.
When I met Sheila for the first time and took her for a walk, she walked calmly by my side, content to sniff the weeds along the path, happy to be out in the open air. How delightful. A dog it would be fun to walk.
When we brought Sheila home, she was Miss Perfect. I was thrilled that she was so well behaved. She came housebroken, she played with her toys, she was loving. When I worked, she lay at my feet until I was ready to give some time to her. We would go for walks or play in the back yard. She never begged food from the table. She never dumped the garbage. She didnt chew anything.
She followed me around with slavish devotion, responded to every command instantly.
"Of course, Madam. Anything you want, Madam. Is there anything else I can do for you, Madam?" she seemed to say whenever I asked anything of her.
Then came that fateful day when she realized she had a choice and decided that she would no longer wear a leash or come when called. (A characteristic of the Kelpie, I read, is that they are "independent thinkers.")
"I dont need none of your steenking doggie treats," she laughed at me as I called her to go back home again and leave behind the delights of the drainage channel.
Realizing there was nothing I could do about it, she began to get bolder.
The calm, quiet dog I walked on the leash so pleasantly at our first encounter has disappeared completely. Now that she must walk on leash all the time, she grabs it and tries to chew through it. She leaps in the air, twisting her body trying to get out of the collar. She drags me along hoping desperately to find another dog, or at the very least, to run free on all that grass stretched out in front of her, just beyond the "dogs must be kept on leash" signs.
I chalked up her destruction of the one arm of the chair to being bored, angry and perhaps anxious at our absence for so many days. However, yesterday morning I got up to fix Walts breakfast, but had had very little sleep, having been up until 2 a.m., writing my review of Wizard of Oz and my journal entry. I sat down to wait for him to come downstairs and immediately fell asleep. Sometime between the time I sat down and the time he came downstairs, Sheila decided to have another go at the chair.
As the day progressed, she became a dog possessed. She discovered my office heater, now with its cord wrapped up and secured with a rubber band, and stuck under my desk. Next thing I know she's gnawing away at the cord. The heater had to be moved up.
After I finished vacuuming up all the dog hair and debris that had been deposited on the rug during our absence, she found my used Swifter duster, safely (I thought) discarded in my office wastebasket and she tore that up all over the newly vacuumed rug.
She found a block of wood and started chewing that up. (This is a dog who is supposed to have all her teeth, yet she's showing signs of teething. I suspect there are a lot of rawhide bones in our immediate future!)
I had been religious in never looking at her, petting her or offering her tidbits from the dinner table, wanting to reinforce her already good behavior of not begging for food at the table. Tonight she practically put her chin on the table and demanded I give her bits off my plate. She seemed very hurt when I sternly told her "no" and she went to find a paper towel to tear up all over the family room.
I went outdoors with her and played kickball, since she's learning how to chase a big ball around the yard. We played "toss the hippopotamus" for about half an hour, and she wrestled with Kimba for awhile.
Then, when her normal "calm-down" time came, as I dozed during Law and Order, she decided to pull the blanket off of me and munch on my toes, which she stopped doing in the first week we got her. "Pay attention to me!" she seemed to be screaming.
I don't know where that sweet, obedient dog we brought home went. We've made the grave mistake of getting a very intelligent dog who has finally figured out that we're pretty stupid and that she can do whatever she damn well pleases.
I talked with Olivia this afternoon. I distinctly heard her snicker.
Walt's sister's cat.