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CREATURES OF HABIT
20 September 2006
I don't need an alarm clock that you plug in, wind up, or fill with batteries. I have Sheila.
Sheila is a creature of habit and those habits will not be altered, if she has anything to say about it. Hence, she makes a great alarm clock, but unfortunately you can't reset her. She doesn't know from "weekends" or "holidays" or daylight savings time" or just "let's sleep late" days. She knows that 6 a.m. is the time to get up and if my eyes don't pop open at 6 a.m., she licks me. If I groan and tell her I'm going to sleep a little longer and pull the blanket over all of my exposed skin she starts tearing up furniture, having figured out that the sound of fabric being ripped from a chair or a couch will get me up instantly.
It's the only time she ever becomes destructive and I can only assume that it's her way of waking me up. It's not a perfect system, but it's effective.
Sheila also has her self-set routines. When I settle in for the night, she comes right up next to me and I pet her until I start falling off to sleep, then she moves away from me and finds her own comfortable position.
In the morning when I sit in the recliner, she comes up, puts her head down almost to the floor, between my legs, butting her head against the chair itself, and wiggling her butt back and forth while I scratch and masssage her back. Then she gets into the whole "massage" thing and lies down on the floor, rolling over on her back for a tummy rub. It's the only time of the day that she asks for this kind of attention.
During the rest of the day, she jumps up to put her paws on my lap and then paw the air, asking to be scratched on the chest, but morning is the time for tummy rubs. She is definitely a creature of habit.
But, interestingly, her habits are starting to change. One thing that was great about Sheila was that she never, ever begged for food at the table. I have also never, ever given her food from our plate. If there is something that the dogs can have, I put it in the fridge and mix it in with their breakfast in the morning so she doesn't get the connection between our plate and her mouth. Now, she has started sitting by the table at dinnertime, looking at us hopefully when we eat. Where did she learn that?
We have had a routine ever since she arrived that when I leave the house, she gets 2 dog biscuits (and Kimba gets one) and I tell her to behave herself and that we'll be home soon. (If I forget that she runs to the back fence and barks when I leave; if I give her the pre-departure treat, she just curls up and goes to sleep.) When I get home again, she gets two more biscuits, which means that when we come in the door, she immediately runs to the kitchen and sits down, waiting for her treat.
Lately, however, she doesn't seem to care about food. She still comes for a treat, but drops it when I give it to her, as if she'll still play the game but treats? ho-hum. (Likewise she doesn't do her "happy dance" at mealtime any more and seems more interested in having the bowl put down for her than in actually eating it right away.)
Kimba can't really chew very well any more and I've gone to giving her soft food instead of kibble because she just can't eat the kibble. She also doesn't come running for treats any more, like she used to do, and if she does, I'll hold out a treat, she'll look at it and then just kind of put her head down sadly, and walk away, as if she knows that she's not going to be able to eat it anyway. Kind of breaks my heart.
But the other day, I gave Sheila a big dog biscuit, a large "Greenie," which the dogs really liked when my friend Lynn bought them some a few months back. For some reason, Sheila took her Greenie and then dropped it in the family room and went outside. Later in the day, Kimba found the biscuit and worked very hard to pick it up.
She carried the biscuit to the dog bed and then tried to figure out what to do with it, since it was impossible for her to actually bite into it. She lay there with that silly biscuit in her mouth for thirty minutes, while saliva dripped from her mouth. She couldn't bite and she wasn't about to give it up, so she just held it in her mouth.
Ultimately, the thing began to disintegrate and she sadly left it there and walked away, and Sheila, who found it later, finally ate it.
It is kind of a weird time around here, dog-wise. All the set routines we had seem to be shifting. I seem to be having more trouble adjusting to that than the dogs are having! I guess I'm just as much a creature of habit as they are.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
The flies get trapped in the window and then Walt
This is Journal entry #2365