As if our lives weren’t already busy enough, about a year and a half ago, we realized there were a few bits and pieces of time available to stuff with more action and activity…so we got a puppy.
I really do find it amusing that we have a live animal wandering around, making our house its home. To earn her keep, this butler-of-sorts eagerly announces visitors, cleans up spills from the floor and provides on-going entertainment and insight into the fascinating human-canine connection. Our Australian Shepherd, Dingo, gives us much to marvel at.
We often hear how intelligent this breed of dog is, which leaves me wondering if I’m smart enough to play Alpha to her Einstein. Try as I may, I can’t figure out some of her behaviours…or mine, as her owner.
Given that I am reasonably uptight about germs – and I’m not referring to those that spawn the common cold - remarkably, I don’t rush to boil my mouth and seek out a full course of antibiotics after Dingo head butts my face and her wet tongue spreads slobber onto my chin, mouth and nose. Instead, I banish the thoughts of the morsels she’s been snacking on in the back yard after the rabbits have been to play, the cornucopia of “treats” in the woods, and the country roads frequented by horses.
When discussing general dog training advice with the woman at the pet store, she inquired if our dog is “treat motivated.” I laughed. The word “motivated” does not begin to describe the intensity of Dingo’s behaviour when there is a remote possibility of treat disbursement. “Obsessive” and “fanatical” are far more apt, as she will frantically and comically attempt to perform any trick or obey any command when the prospect of a treat looms in her immediate future.
Dingo needs near-constant reminders to heel, come, sit…and refrain from demonstrating her fondness for some people by leaping unbelievably high and jamming her nose into the face of her object of unbridled adoration. But if we break a rule, even just once, she sees it as an invitation to start a delightful new habit which is as hard to break as a non-splintering marrow bone. If, during a weak moment, we allow her on the couch, she will continue to confidently hop back up, looking innocently like it’s us humans who have stupidly forgotten the new and improved rule.
But most amusing is her irrational fear of inanimate objects…
When I reach for the broom to sweep, my grasp barely closes on the handle and Dingo senses, from wherever in the house she is, the “need” to leap to attention. I’m certain I hear the theme to “Mission Impossible” as her eyes snap wide open, her head turns abruptly, and in stealth mode, she skids down hallways and slides around corners. She then mercilessly tackles the bristles of the broom with a vigour that suggests she is saving her mistress from almost certain demise.
We don’t mind that she gets wet – she is a dog, after all – but she seems to have developed an irrational fear of …the towel. Whenever she comes in from the rain, she dodges anybody who could be concealing a towel on his or her person. She dashes into her kennel, turns and settles in, as though she’s been there for hours. After a few minutes, she’ll venture out to join us, but not before suspiciously peeking around the corner, checking to see if anybody is menacingly wielding Terry the Terrible.
Although dog ownership can be filed, without question, under “What were we thinking?” we do enjoy our crazy dog.