IN MY OPINION
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(with the hope that everyone in my family will think about making a similar list before their birthdays and/or Christmas roll around!)
20 February 2006
I was sound asleep, having a lovely dream, when suddenly....
Two big paws landed in the middle of my stomach. I groaned, opened one eye and squinted at the clock. It was 6:15, 15 minutes later than I usually wake up. Ms. Sheila had decided that I was not going to be a lazy bones. It was time to get the day started.
Sheila stood in the middle of the hall watching my every move, as I staggered down to the bathroom for the morning ablutions. Then she impatiently watched me pour water into the coffee pot and grind up Peet's French Roast beans and get the coffee brewing.
[ASIDE: I'm thrilled to learn that Peet's French Roast is Oprah's favorite; I'm hoping the recent plug she gave it on her show will give it as huge a push in sales as her endorsement of a book does.]
When I turned around from the coffee pot, Sheila leaped up on her hind legs, paws waving in the air. She knew it was time for ....BREAKFAST!
I fed the two dogs, fed the husband, and settled in at my computer to get some work done (or some e-mail read or some videos watched or a journal entry written or something).
Mid-morning, Kimba was walking around in my office. Suddenly I heard THWACK. When the water bowl is empty, Kimba will stand in it and kind of bite on the edge of the metal bowl. Only apparently I was so engrossed in the article I was writing that I didn't notice, so she somehow managed to lift the bowl up and drop it back down again, which made a sound I couldn't really ignore.
Good, obedient owner that I am, I got up and filled the bowl with water.
Having Sheila around this past year and a half has really been a learning experience in "having a dog." All the dogs we've had before have been raised with our kids and though I loved them, I didn't have the intense dog-human interaction (by the time the last dog died, Kimba was such a limp that she was little more than a pet rock I had to feed)
At night, Walt and I sit at opposite sides of the family room to watch TV. I'll play tug of war with Sheila, but Walt won't. He will throw toys for her to chase. So she spends about an hour bringing a toy to me, hanging on to it and tugging until I finally give up. Then she takes the same toy to Walt, drops it in his lap and he throws it for her. She chases it, and brings it to me to play tug of war. I have been amazed at how consistently she alternates between me and Walt and how she knows to expect something different from each of us.
Keeping one step ahead of an intelligent dog like Sheila is also a challenge. We've developed a routine for going out and coming home when Sheila isn't going to be with me. She gets 2 treats, Kimba 1, before I go out, if she isn't coming with me. She sees me going through "going out" rituals--putting on shoes, often putting the camera into my purse, putting on a jacket--and she starts going crazy. "Take me! take me!" But if I go into the kitchen she sits and waits until she gets her treats--then she knows she is not going and makes no attempt to go out the front door.
When I come home, it's the same thing--she knows that when I come through the door, it's Treat Time, so instead of trying to push past me to FREEDOM!, she runs into the kitchen and by the time I get there she is sitting down, licking her lips, waiting for her treat.
Barking in the back yard has also been a problem. Fortunately I am home most of the time so when she finds something to bark at, whether someone working in another yard, or another dog in the neighborhood barking, or just a "hello world, it's ME" bark, I bring her inside for a "time out."
The "bringing her inside" routine has evolved. It used to be that I would call her, she would come in. I would either pet her or give her a treat and I would block off the door. Then it got to where all I had to do was open the back door and she would come running inside, hoping for a treat (I was going on the "intermittent reward" theory because I was getting the impression that she would go outside to bark whenever she wanted a treat!)
This worked for quite a while, but she finally began to put 2 and 2 together and realized that once she came in the back door, she wouldn't be able to go out again. But there was still that hope of a treat if she came when called, so she would race to the back door from wherever she was whenever I opened the door, but she wouldn't pass through the door. She just sat there with that big grin on her face.
She was forcing my hand. Forcing treats. So out came the treats, but she still wouldn't step through the door to get a treat, so I would show the treat to her and then throw it down the hall. She would run after it, I would block off the door and all would be well again.
It didn't take her long to figure that game out either, so now I've discovered a new game, which she hasn't caught onto yet. When she barks now, I move around inside the house where she can see me, and I head toward the front door. If she doesn't come running inside to check on me, then I go out the door, closing it noisily behind me. She immediately runs to the gate to check me out. I rummage through the mailbox or something and then come back in the door. Well, this means I've been out and am coming back in and so she runs inside to greet me, and I can then close off the door.
I like to think that my superior human mind is keeping one step ahead of Sheila, but in my heart of hearts, I know who is really in charge
(I noted with some amusement, in putting in links to previous entries that I wrote an entry about how the dogs are ruling my life one year ago today. Obviously I have not advanced far in the eternal quest for canine domination around here!)
PHOTO OF THE DAY
There was a time when I used to shake my head,
I don't shake my head any more.