Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

C: Entitlements, or Who’s Training Whom?


Yes, I understand that the dogs are spoiled. I do try to keep the separation clear between homo sapiens and canine in this household. Unlike V’s “Dudley” or my sister-in-law’s “Sophie,” my dogs do not presume to sleep on my bed. But they each have their own bed at my bedside. I’m not sure that’s particularly “canine” but, still, it is on the floor.

My dogs both sit beautifully on command and obey the basics. I make sure to order them around every so often just to remind them. “Stay!” I will command, for no good reason. And they both dutifully do, albeit with rolling eyes sometimes as though they are humoring me; but they do it. Rarely do they give any offense whatsoever. Still, the title of “Pack Leader” sometimes seems to hang in life’s gray area around here. Sometimes we can blame that on others….

Take the couch, for instance. Scout is eleven years old. The first nine years of her life as a dog in the house were spent contentedly on the floor. You know, where dogs live? It never-even-crossed-her-mind to get on furniture. Then, when my in-laws had to move away, they could not take their beloved dogs. Sport, their larger dog, was euthanized, a sad task that had been put off for a while. Sport was having major joint and other health issues. Putting him down was something that had to be done, and their move forced that issue.

Perky was their miniature fox terrier. She was old, too, but she moved in with me when her family moved to a senior complex that does not allow dogs (go figure). This was pre-Chili, when Scout and I were on our own. Perky was never under any illusion about pack leadership; she claimed and walked in that authority—in a sweet way, mind you. It’s just that if Perky wanted something, she got it, by hook or crook. She taught Scout a thing or two…watch and learn. The couch was the first lesson.

One thing about Shetland Sheepdogs is their intensity. Because they watch everything so closely, waiting on their opportunity to be of service, their little faces seem to speak their thoughts. This is her "I wish you wouldn't take my picture" face.

You should have seen Scout’s face when Perky first leapt up on the couch to lie down for a snooze (so much better than the hard floor). Scout’s face registered sheer amazement. You could almost hear her thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know dogs could get up there!!” So, she joined Perky. Two dogs on the couch. And, believe me, once that genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back in. Scout has remained an evening couch dog ever since, long after Perky has departed this world.


But the thing that has me writing this post is a recent development and it revolves around one of my dogs’ favorite English-language words: “Treat!” The sound of that word will perk these babies up like no other. When it is spoken, they immediately stop what they are doing and prance joyfully to the cabinet where the dog treats are stored. And, as embarrassing as it is right now for me to admit it, there is quite a selection to be had. Just look at these "Canine Carryouts." Think they make them in those fun T-bone shapes for the dogs??? I don't think so....

Now, in my defense, let me say that the array of treats has grown out of my kind consideration for little Scout. As she has aged, I have noticed that hard biscuits sometimes seem difficult for her to manage, and she cares not one whit for the rawhide chews that Chili loves to gnaw on. Concerned about this, I began shopping for varieties that would allow Scout to enjoy her treat time as much as Chili does. But here’s what is happening now:

We go to the treat door, which is eye level for the dogs. (Probably a bad tactic, right there, huh?). The door is opened, and their long snouts shove right in, greedily sniffing for the treats they know are stored there. “Sit!” I gruffly command; and they both move back onto their haunches, awaiting the favor of a tasty morsel. I pull the treat-of-the-day out and dispense one to each. Chili always happily takes whatever is offered, carrying it into the breakfast room to enjoy. But then comes the vignette that has me re-thinking relationships around here.

Sometimes Scout, like Chili, courteously takes her treat and goes off to enjoy. But, more often than not, she exercises another option: discrimination, of the gourmand kind. She will carefully sniff the treat and then sit back a little and look up at me, her eyes saying, “No, thank you. I am not in the mood for that today. Please offer another.” And, here’s the kicker: I do!! Instead of saying, “Take it or leave it, mutt!” I return the treat to its packaging and search for one that pleases. Sometimes the second choice is a charm; sometimes it takes me three times to please. Some days I believe a silver tray might be in order...

Now, you might think that Scout just has her favorites and perhaps, I should stick with those to make things easier. Nay, not that simple. Scout likes all our varieties of treats, with the exception of the hard rawhide mentioned above. It’s just that some days she’s just not in the mood for dog biscuits, notwithstanding their “oven-baked goodness,” preferring Pupperoni, instead. And, then, there are days when Canine Carryouts (usually a favorite) just aren’t the ticket; “May I have a ‘Beggin’ Strip,’ instead, please?” Of course, she can’t really say this—I have to scramble to read her face and mind to come up with the treat that pleases.

What have I come to? Is it age that has brought me to this? Will I soon be wearing a red hat and toting a little Chihuahua in a purple sweater around? Yes, I do realize that these observations are not really about my dogs…they are about me.

C

PS – It cannot go without saying that when my dogs visit Mother-in-law (daily while I am at work), they are always given a treat. MIL keeps big dog biscuits for Chili and little ones for Scout. But there is NO VARIETY!! (Horrors!). And Scout does not pull her “No, thank you” routine on MIL. They both seem excited and pleased with her offering…talk about pack leader. I’m afraid to think about what this says about the pack at my house…

19 comments:

The Lucy and Dick Show said...

My sister rattles on about being the Alpha and what.... but hey! If we want to completely spoil our kittie and let her lead the pack... who does it hurt? We like to cater to her and she likes to run the house!

KathyB. said...

Living with dogs is an endless adventure into canine psychology mixed with 'who cares, it works for me and my dog' . Like the rest of our lives, nothing can be summed up and dismissed entirely because an "expert" says so. Sounds like you and your dogs have a routine that works well for you,but especially for them! Woof woof.

Protege said...

What a wonderful post dedicate to your pets.;) Now, I do not have dogs and never had them, but my family used to pet-sit a dog, when the owners traveled, which they did a lot. Once they were gone for two months. It was a wonderful experience to have the dog in our apartment (yes, it worked) and we all took the tasks of walking the English Setter. In the end she became a part of the family. My sister, who took her every day on 2h walk (rain or shine) was very sad to see her leave...
xo
Zuzana

carla said...

This was hilarious.

Thanks for the laugh this morning.

kath001 said...

Oh, how close this comes to my front door! I was just shopping for treats on Saturday, and the little T-bone ones were so cute and I was in the process of putting them in my cart, when it occurred to me that the dogs couldn't care less what they looked like. LOL

I got them the rawhide chews instead...longer satisfaction...and they are all still of an age to enjoy them...two devour them in no time, and one buries, digs up, and buries again...kind of like that little dog in the commercial hiding his treasure. I was surreptitiously watching her out the window one day, and she dropped her prize into a hole, and before covering it up, she actually turned her head...first to the left, then to the right...to make sure no one saw where she was hiding her stash.

Robynn's Ravings said...

Soon, they'll be offering YOU treats! If they decide you've earned one, that is. Hysterical! But I AM proud of how well trained you are. Good girl.

Sonja said...

I love this post! Our beloved, albeit, picky pooch, will not take a treat from strangers, only from his trusted family. When he goes to the vet, the UPS delivery guy, what-have-you, he won't accept it. As if, "mama told me not to take treats from strangers." Hee!

Jody Blue said...

You are indeed way nicer than us. We sometimes purchase pig ears but for the most part its cheerios, if we are feeling like the critter needs some attention and we have no time to give it, we will peanut butter a bone but thats just to ease our guilt.

Vickie said...

Dear C - You are such a good mommy! (she says with a baby accent) And you're so well trained! Here's you a nice treat for being such a good girl!

Sorry, couldn't resist - same way at my house. And I DO have a little chihuahua!!! (but no purple hat)

Leslie said...

I feel I should not even be commenting because I have been reminded numerous times by my loving husband that they are "Animals". That pushes a button in me and he knows it. Sarcastically, I will think (or maybe even say), Oh really, I didn't know that. :)

Queenmothermamaw said...

Sounds like a couple of kids and a mother I know.
QMM

jan said...

Well, they do have you trained, don't they! Too funny! Especially the fact that they take what they get at grandma's house!

addhumorandfaith said...

A wonderful post that I think anyone who's ever loved a dog can identify with. :)

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

Sophie lets me think I am the Alpha....but what would I do without her? I think I buy her more treats than I do for myself! Loved your post. blessings,Kathleen

audrey y said...

Hi ladies

my postings are quite spotty...but I do like to pay you a visit and I am never disappointed. What a creative team you are

May I wish you the happiest Christmas ever

* and give those broncs a ration of oats for me

Audrey

joolzmac said...

My cat Bonnie often sniffs her bowl, looks up at me and walks away. I do not give in and she eventually eats it. I can be a bitch sometimes!

Joolz ;D

Vee said...

Now I am not a dog lover like my mother and my son, but I do keep a variety of treats for their dogs. I must play the perfect hostess even to the least of us or would that be the cats? Your dogs are well blessed!

Thanks for stopping by to welcome me back...so appreciated!

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

12-21-09
Hi, just dropped back by to wish you a wonderful Christmas! blessings,Kathleen

♥Mimi♥ said...

I have no less than THREE treat jars on the end of my kitchen counter. Two for the dogs and one for the cats. There is a special shelf in my pantry for animal treats and it is the first one I check when I am making a grocery list. My dogs have more collars than I do clothes and my cats all snooze on hand-crocheted blankets. Am I manipulated by my animals - uhm, no. I just like to indulge them and create some joy in my life☺

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