Saturday, May 16, 2009

Double Trouble

Although my amazing Shelties are beautifully behaved and expertly trained, they are still dogs. Very VERY smart, intelligent dogs. Dogs who, when they don't have a job to apply all those smarts to, get creative in terms of finding intellectual outlets on their own. Now, at this point I have to be honest and admit that I've been slacking. I know I haven updated in a while, but Ive had to take a few steps back and really curb my activity level again; I was just feeling too tired and run down and needed to let my body rest. Not only did I have to start taking it easier at work, but also at home. Which meant that the girl activities would be cut down too. Now I hope that through all these posts you know me well enough to make sure that they are still being taken care of! We're just playing more Frisbee in the backyard (while I can sit) instead of taking long walks.

So I had deep and meaningful conversations with them to let them know what was going on and that "mommy needs to rest", and I think they took it well. Sure, Heidi has been a little more talkative than normal (with a little more pent up energy than normal, her mouth seems to be her "creative" outlet-more on that in a bit) and Shelby has been chasing more and more things in the sky (again, more on that in a bit). But otherwise they have been doing well. We all have. I'm hoping, as I'm sure Ive said here a hundred times before, that listening to my body now and getting some seemingly needed rest, will pay off later and I'll be able to enjoy being active again. Indeed, I hope to be able to be even more active than I was before!
So, things up to this point have been going well. That is, they were going well until yesterday. Yesterday was the first day that I thought to myself (as I'm smart enough not to have yelled it out loud): BAD DOG!!! And not only did I think it once, I the thought occurred to me twice. In ONE DAY!! Let me tell you the tale:
So, not too long ago, I posted about some "quirks" that my girls had. Well, let me tell you about two more. And also how these quirky behaviors got the "BAD DOG!" thoughts yesterday.

After our somewhat disappointing attempts at herding (both sheep and ducks) I thought I would Shelby continue to practice on some, uh, local fowl: the Canadian geese that seem to be EVERYWHERE. Now, I don't let her chase them anywhere where they should be: state parks, etc. but on public beaches and places of business they're fair game. Now of course I would never put Shelby in harms way; I can call her off them in a split second if the geese don't take to flying right away (which means they may fight) or if they fly too close to a road. But letting her go tearing off in chase (much like a sight hound at a lure coursing event) is something really neat to see. At first she wouldn't go that far from me. She would run a little, give a few barks and then come back. Now, however she'll run and run...even after they've taken flight she'll still chase them while they're in the air. It's even more of a fun challenge for her when its seagulls at the beach-they're not as bright as the geese, you see. They fly off when she comes running and then when she comes back to me, they'll just land in the same spot again. Which, of course, makes Shelby go right back after them.

Shes become a little...obsessed...with this behavior. She now tries to chase anything that she sees in the sky; she actually walks with her neck craned upwards so that she can stare search it for things to chase (once she even got upset that the moon was out early...and no, it wasn't moving!). But again, she has a great "leave-it" and stops staring (or chasing) as soon as I ask her to. But yesterday she took the behavior further than I think even she expected. My mom and I took them to the beach to get some exercise. They went for a bit of a walk and I brought their chuck-it so they could run too. And of course, Shelby chased birds: in the sky and on the beach. But one time when I threw the ball it got lost in the beach grass. As my mom and I were looking for it, we heard this huge "SPLASH!!!" We both turned around and saw Shelby practically UNDER WATER. She had JUMPED right into the ocean! Where we were is kind of hard to describe; we weren't on the actual shore, but on the beach of a small harbor. So the ocean waves weren't lapping at the sand. It was pretty calm and quiet. But it was deeper than the gentle, gradual slope of the actual "beach" on the other side of the road.

So now Shelby, coughing and sputtering, comes bounding out of the sea with this look of complete surprise on her face like "WOW that was DEEP! And cold!!" And I now have a soaking wet Sheltie that needs to be loaded into my car for the drive home. And this is when, while the pungent odor of "wet dog" was filling my nostrils on the entire 45 minute trip back, I was thinking "BAD DOG!" But then those fleeting thoughts left as quickly as they came. And they were replaced with laughter and the humor of the ridiculousness of the whole thing. I didn't have my camera at this point, but she looked very similar to this:

This picture was taken after she had gotten soaked with muck after another memorable seagull chasing event in March. The only difference is here she is soaked with muck only up to her chest and yesterday she was soaked with water and sand...up to her chin! I actually took her collar off to make sure she didn't get a hot spot.

On to "BAD DOG!" #2:

One of Heidi's quirks, which shes done ever since we brought her home, has been to eat socks...and other, er, undergarments. And although it sounds terrible, the reasons behind are actually kind of amusing. Those people in the training and behavior world often remind us that dogs do not have the emotional capabilities to feel things like spite. Well, come meet my dog Heidi. She can be very spiteful in certain situations! She seeks out these clothes to kill when my mom and I leave; no, not EVERY time that we leave, but when we leave and piss Heidi off. For example, she wont eat anything when we go to work or to run an errand UNLESS we do something like leave and come right back: i.e. when I say goodbye, walk to the car and then realize I forgot something back in the house. So, I go back, unlock the door, grab my forgotten item and then LEAVE AGAIN. This is the situation where Heidi will go into either of our rooms (mine first, and then if she can't find anything easily accessible then she goes to scope out my mom's room) and look for something to eat. And no, she doesn't eat them completely, she chews them and then leaves the slobbery mass on the floor for me to find.

Now this behavior is pretty rare; not necessarily because Heidi doesn't get pissed off as often as before because she is aging (yeah right!), but because we've kept our house "puppy proofed" (yes, the puppy proofing that you usually do when you have a 7 week old puppy not a 7 year old adult dog!) We have to put up a gate to prevent her from going upstairs (which we would probably do regardless for safety reasons) and I went from using a laundry basket to keep my dirty clothes in to a hamper with a lid. I had to do this last switch because she had figured out how to actually GET INTO the basket and grab said sock from INSIDE my pant legs!!

So we humans think we are so smart; now that we have outsmarted the dog. Well yesterday she proved me wrong. BIG TIME. She totally outsmarted us. I got home and saw that she had left me a gift: a pair of chewed, drooly...unmentionables...on my floor! I thought "How in the HELL did she get them?!?!" Then I looked at the laundry hamper. This is what I saw:

She actually PULLED THEM OUT through the tiny holes in the front. And what is even worse, is that there were also SOCKS sticking out of the hole too! Now I don't know if those had come through while she pulled the "other" item out, or if she had gone back for seconds but it doesn't matter. All that matters is that she took advantage of them hanging out and chewed those too! This dog is TOO SMART for her own good!!! This was the second "BAD DOG!" thought for the day. I of course couldn't say it to her because she doesn't remember what she did. And she doesn't know what "BAD DOG!" means; I might as well be shouting "pickles and ice-cream" at her. And again, like Shelby's incident/accident from before, once the shock of the "I can't BELIEVE that the dog did this" feeling wore off, I managed to find the humor in the situation.

And thats what my Heart-Dogs are still doing for me: reminding me to laugh and find the humor in every day situations; even if they at first appear to be troublesome or annoying. And to remember these times as they will later become precious and treasured memories. And to remember that having two dogs is usually double the trouble, they are also (just like the gum commercial says) "double the pleasure and double the fun"!! (And in he Shelties' case, double the beauty, sweetness, intelligence and love.)