Do not make the mistake of treating your dogs like humans or they will treat you like dogs.
~ Martha Scott
Special K and Toast
A Walk in the Woods
(I'm still reading at Clinton's book, but I'll just post when/if I finish it rather than keep it on here every day!)
TODAY on DVD
Far from Heaven
Check a Sheila Video
16 July 2004
Remind me again why it was I wanted a dog.
Oh dont get me wrong. I really love this dog. But there are days when I long for the quiet and the simplicity of life with Kimba alone.
The longer Sheila is here, the more secure she becomes, the more boundless her energy becomes. I am desperately longing for the city's promised dog park. She is frantic to play with other dogs, and Ive found, when walking her (the daily "drag") that other owners are not nearly as frantic to have their dogs play with Sheila. They pull them away so there is no chance to sniff butts and Sheila just goes out of her mind trying to chase after the other dog.
Ive been trying to use some of the obedience training methods Ive been studying, but this is a dog with a very definite mind of her own. She will obey when shes darn good and ready and there is no tone of voice firm enough, no treat yummy enough to distract her from what she wants to do when she has her mind set.
This morning she dragged me off to the park. She reminds me of those hot shots on the freeway who, when in bumper to bumper traffic will put everyones life at risk zipping in and out between cars just so they can get wherever they are going 30 seconds faster than everyone else.
Sheila isnt content to get to the next tree in 10 seconds, she wants to get there NOW.
One technique for getting a dog to walk with you, not drag you, is to make them sit and then move out and if they pull, make them sit again.
Well, "sit" is a command Sheila knows very well. But when were outside, I might as well be a tree at the end of her leash for all she notices me. A "sit" command elicits a "yeah--and whos gonna make me?" response. If I push on her hindquarters and make her sit, she still keeps her butt off the ground so that the second my hand is removed from her backside, she can leap into the air once again.
I made the mistake of cutting across a large grassy area at the park the other day. Where Sheila had only dragged me down the concrete sidewalk on the way to the park, once she saw this huge empty grassy area, she got absolutely frantic. She leaped, she chewed on the leash, she twisted her body. She so desperately wanted to run. Ive had to tighten her collar before taking her out, to a tightness Im not comfortable with (I loosen it as soon as we get home) because shes discovered that with the right twisting move she can get out of it.
It makes me want to risk the drainage channel again, just to let her get rid of some of this energy.
At home she has her cycles. Fortunately she does have periods of sleep during the day, but when shes awake, she refuses to be ignored. Her favorite toys are plush squeak toys. Shell get one of them, stand behind my desk chair and just bump me over and over and over again, making the toy squeak each time. She absolutely will not give up. The dog has strong powers of concentration when she sets her mind to it. She's like a toddler who wanders around, hanging on to my leg whining "Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?"
If I finally decide to play with her, which is what she wants, then she refuses to give the toy up so I can throw it for her. She doesnt really want me to play with the toy with her, she just doesnt want me turning my back on her.
She has not (yet) attempted to take anything off the kitchen counter or kitchen table, though she could easily do that. Ive been diligent never feeding her any people food, strictly because I dont want her to get the idea that people food is even an option, but whereas she used to just stay out of the kitchen when I was cooking, now shes there with Kimba (who, I swear, taught her about begging), hoping for a treat.
Today, a 100 degree day, I walked out to the kitchen in my bare feet and discovered I was walking through a pool of water. Why was I walking through a pool of water? Because Sheila had decided to carry the water bowl out to the back yard, spilling the water that was in it onto the floor along the way. It joined the "herd" this herding dog keeps rounding up, of stuffed toys, bowls, cubes of wood from the crumbling shed, bits of paper she's torn up, and a number of balls, all circled together in the middle of the yard.
Shes wise to tricks. I cant lock her out of a room. If my intent is to get her outside the door and close it, she refuses to budge. Just sits on her haunches and wont move for anything. (She has, I'm happy to say, finally agreed to sit on the floor while I make the bed, which has made life MUCH more pleasant.)
She used to sit back when I went outside. Now she stands between me and the door and refuses to move, just waiting for the opportunity to leave the house. I tried Peggy's trick of giving her a nice bone to gnaw on while I'm gone, but she's on to that trick. She knows the bone will be there when she gets back to it, but in the meantime she might miss the chance to slip out the front door.
She definitely has her likes and dislikes. She doesnt like noise. She immediately goes outside if I take the vacuum cleaner out, or start grinding coffee beans. The other day she started barking and barking and barking at the floor and even began to make digging motions in the rug. When I checked the spot where she was freaking out I found the thing at the left (slightly, but not much, smaller than life size). I dont know if shed brought it in on her coat or what. When I picked it up, she looked frightened and ran away from me. As long as I was holding it, she wouldnt go anywhere near me. When I put it on the table next to my chair, she would make a wide berth around my chair. Why she was so terrified, I dont have a clue. But I decided to try using it to my advantage and put it on the chair shes been gnawing. She hasnt chewed on the chair since, but that could be just coincidence.
So there are definitely moments when I wonder what Ive gotten myself into. That "calm, obedient, mild dispositioned" dog we adopted disappeared somewhere in the past month and a half.
But then at night she leaps up into bed with me, crawls up next to my face and lies there for 5 minutes or so, on her back so I can rub her tummy. Then she gets up, walks to the foot of the bed, curls up and sleeps there for the night. In the morning when I wake up, she does a belly crawl back up to the top of the bed and rolls over on her back again. She practically sighs in bliss when I rub her chest and she knows that she has me wrapped around her devious little paw.
There are things, however, that make me very grateful. Before Sheila came, David Gerrold told me he had a dog he was trying to find a home for. Binky was the fourth dog in his house and that was just too much. She was, I was told, a lovely, loving, very sweet dog who needed her own person. David had previously given us Benjy, a Lhasa Apso/Tibetan Terrier mix who was a wonderful dog, who, unfortunately, died of cancer much too young. I was hoping Binky would be another Benjy.
When I wrote and told him we'd decided to adopt Sheila (since he and his son hadn't managed, yet, to find a time to drive up here with the new dog), he told me that was just as well, because his son had decided he wanted to keep the dog after all.
Yesterday, I was looking at his journal and read the following (the entry itself is talking about his 4th of July and neighborhood fireworks):
Somehow Sheila doesn't look so bad today. It's all a matter of perspective!
Must read journal entry of the day:
Another heron Sheila and I encountered on one of our walks.