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This Day in My History

Diamonds and Stones
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2003:  The Stuff that Dreams are Made of
2004:  View from the Back Porch



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It's 4:00.  Time to annoy Kimba.

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20 February 2005

Since Sheila arrived here, and since I watched the puppies develop and begin to explore their world, I've been thinking about how dogs view the world.  What goes through their heads through various times of the day.

Kimba, for example, knows for a fact that the dishwasher is her personal all-you-can-eat buffet.  This dog who has pretended to be deaf for years somehow manages to "just happen" to appear as soon as the dishwasher door opens.  She stands in the hall and peeks around the wall, watching me unload the machine.  The minute I begin to load it, there is Kimba, her little nose checking for bits that might fall on the door and the best angle that she can reach them with her tongue.  She's very quiet and unassuming, but extremely determined.

It reminds me of the years when she could still walk around the block and still had some oomph in her step.  You'd put her on a leash and she'd take off straining and just marching resolutely.  You could almost her her grumbling "They almost never take me for a walk and goddammit, I'm going to make the most of this walk."  She rarely stopped to sniff. The thrill was being out on the street and she was not going to go slowly for anything.   Invariably, until Audra told us we should walk her in a harness instead of a collar, would cough the whole afternoon after we got back from a walk because of the constant pressure on her neck.

Kimba has also learned the "rules of the kitchen, according to dogs."  When I'm in there cooking, she never sits and stares at me, hoping I'll toss her a tidbit.  Instead, she knows I'm a klutz and so she knows that if she sits near my feet and keeps looking at the floor, eventually something will fall on it.  It's a trick no other dog we've had has ever figured out.

When it comes to hearing, Sheila is the original Snoopy.  I mentioned a couple of months ago that I remember a Peanuts cartoon where it said that Snoopy could hear a knife going through cake.  You can't get away with a thing around Sheila.  If she's sleeping upstairs and I lower the footrest of the recliner, I immediately hear "thud" as she jumps off the bed and comes downstairs, ready for play.  Likewise other sounds that will bring her running from upstairs--any touching of my keys--because it might mean that I'm getting ready to take her out; hanging up my coat--because I've touched a piece of clothing that I sometimes wear when I take her out; sitting down quietly in a chair to put on my shoes, becuase it might mean that I might take her out (she's the only dog I know who can hear shoelaces being tied from the upstairs).  I swear the dog even responds to THOUGHTS about taking her out.  All I have to do is think "gee--maybe I'll take Sheila to the park," and thud, here comes Sheila downstairs.

So if her hearing is so damn acute, why can't she hear me CALLING for her from inside the house when she is outside barking?

And then there is her unerring ability to tell time.  She may not have a paw-watch or know how to read numbers, but every day at 4 p.m.--you can almost set your own watch by it--Sheila begins to torment Kimba.  Watching her taunt Kimba, by grabbing her by the ears or taking that huge paw and plopping it down on Kimba's back, or some other annoying thing that Kimba doesn't like, I am reminded of a trip we took when the kids were little.  This was in the days before there were DVD players to put in the back seat to keep the little darlings entertained.  In those days, the only thing they had to entertain themselves was seeing how quickly they could make a sibling cry.

The classic wail that I remember on a hot afternoon, driving through the desert of Death Valley, was "Mom!   He scraped me with his hair." (Bear in mind that they all had fairly short hair at the time).

Sheila is also the only dog I've experienced (though I know there are a lot of them out there) who watches TV.   She always watches animals on TV, she always watches when there is some strange sound on TV.  The other day I had Animal Planet on upstairs while I was taking a shower.  When I got out of the shower and went into the bedroom. Sheila was lying on the bed, head up, staring intently at the television screen.  What goes through their heads when they are watching television?

And, of course, if 6 p.m. comes and she hasn't been fed yet, she is under my elbow, licking my arm to remind me that she's here and that she hasn't been fed--as if I could forget!

I started writing this at 3:50 p.m.  Ten minutes later, I heard "thud" as Sheila's feet hit the ground upstairs and she is now chewing on Kimba's ears and I know Kimba is about to bark.   It's my theory that Sheila has decided that if she can make Kimba sound obnoxious enough, I'll get up and feed them early just to shut her up!

Some days it works.

I'm sure Sheila is very pleased that she has me trained so well.  I not only fetch balls for her at the dog park, I also obey her here around the house.  I think she and the dog trainer were in cahoots.  I thought Sheila was being trained, but it was really me.

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By the way, speaking of Audra (Paul's widow), which I was up there a bit ago, I was astonished to be sitting here at my computer, transcribing away.  The television was tuned to Bravo and a West Wing rerun was about to come on as soon as the infomercial finished.  Suddenly I heard "My name is Dr. Audra Sykes and I'm a veterinarian...."  Turns out Audra was endorsing some skin care product that was guaranteed to make your skin look younger.  She was praising its value (though since she is just barely over 30, I'm not sure how much stock I should put in her endorsement!)


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Sunrise on the farm (photo by Peggy)

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