Ashley, I dare you to put this on your blog!
ADVENTURES IN DOG SITTING
December 30, 2009
Okay, so it’s no secret that my daughter Ashley is moving to England with her wonderful husband Brent. And it is also no secret that her dog Minnie cannot go with them, at least not immediately. I don’t understand this quarantine thing but supposedly Minnie can follow sometime in March. I hope Ashley meant March of 2010, because I am not sure I can last much longer than that! In the interim, Ashley and Brent arrived this year for Christmas; they brought Minnie to my house, and departed on their continuing travels without her.
Yep, Minnie is staying with me for a while. I guess I should be thankful that Ashley is not an unwed mother, but let us just say that Minnie
has been is a challenge. But I am taking this adventure in stride. Jeez, where do I start?
Do I start with having to wash the bedspread on my bed because Minnie peed on it? Or cleaning up the carpet where she vomited the horse manure? But wait I am getting ahead of myself, so why not start at the beginning.
Right off, I violated the first rule of dog sitting: DON’T YELL AT THE DOG WHEN IT JUMPS ON THE FURNITURE. And Ms. Minnie can jump! She can clear the couch in a single bound, and from a standing start, she can jump up on my bed. Of course I discovered this, after emerging from the shower and found her sleeping full-out on my bed. I yelled, she peed. Note to self; don’t yell at the dog on the furniture.
Now I have several horses, and I often make the joke, particularly to friends when they bring their dogs to my house, addressing the dog; “Come on, let’s go to the barn where you can get a hot meal.” Often this is lost on the owner until we get to the barn, where their dog discovers a steaming pile of fresh horse manure and begins wolf it down like it was a last meal. Ha ha, the jokes on them, because as soon as their dog gets in the car, or usually more likely, back home on the white carpet, the manure appears again.
Well guess what? This time the joke’s on me; Minnie has not acclimated her system to horse manure yet. And yes, I have white carpet. Well, mostly white now. Note to self; it is OKAY to yell at the dog, while it is eating horse manure!
Ashley has done quite well in training her dog in the proper ways of dog discipline. Sit, heel, roll over, come and stay are all in Minnie’s repertoire. And she also taught her to ring the old sleigh bells hanging on the front door knob, when she wants to go out. But a smart dog will use this to their own amusement. Not only to go out to pee, but also to go out to check the weather, sniff the snow, eat the elk duds scattered around outside the house, and also occasionally just for her own entertainment or to break up the boredom, to see me get up from my desk. Minnie is a smart dog.
Oh, you aren’t familiar with elk duds? That is elk scat, perhaps not as big a favorite as the horse manure, but it must still satisfy some dark and mysterious canine craving imbedded deep down in their DNA, as Minnie and Reba will frequently return to the front door, with elk poop on their breath.
Now my dog Reba is a nine year old Jack Russell Terrorist, and she is set in her ways. She is the Queen of the house and rules with an iron paw. All transgressions from visiting four legged friends and relatives are dealt with swiftly and severely. And to her, size doesn’t matter. A recent visiting German Sheppard, three times her size, incurred her wrath by simply putting his head upon my knee. That simple act garnered him a bite to the neck, where she hung on by her teeth, front feet off the floor until he shook her loose. The message? Don’t mess with the Queen’s Daddy!
But a transformation is occurring. The Queen has accepted her Lady In Waiting, aka Ms. Minnie as her understudy. They now eat together, sleep on the couch together, go out together, play together and even bark in unison. Oh, there is the occasional disciplinary measure, a barring of teeth, a quick nip to the nose, but for the most part, Minnie is toeing the line and falling into Reba’s supreme order of things.
Jack Russell’s come from a line of rat terriers 100 years ago, where once again, that instinct being hardwired deep down in their DNA. Lately Reba has discovered mousing. She sniffs around in the snow or grasses, digs in the dirt, and stalks her prey, and when she pounces, a quick bite and a flip and the mouse or gopher cartwheels through the air above her head. This is swiftly followed by another quick bite and it’s all over. Reba even smiles after she has conquered an unfortunate rodent. Great fun to watch and I suppose even more fun to perform, if you’re a dog.
A few nights ago, while feeding the horses and yelling at Minnie to not eat the manure, I noticed Reba patrolling the perimeter. Shortly thereafter I see the telltale; bite, flip, bite, smile, and Reba trotting off with her new prize. I yell, because I also don’t want mouse innards on the white carpet, and Reba drops the prize. Only now, Minnie picks up the ball and runs with it! New game, new lessons learned and more yelling from the spectator!
So unbeknown to Ashley, I am conducting some training of my own. Minnie now readily begs at the table while you are eating. I like that in a dog, it sort of harkens back to King Arthur and the Round Table, where at the end of a meal, you simply scraped the plates on the floor for the dogs to clean up. And this morning, while making a sandwich, I decided to see which foods Minnie won’t eat. Guess what? Ashley will be surprised to learn that Minnie likes bananas, apples, pistachio nuts, pistachio shells, elk hamburger (that was a given), tomatoes, corn bread, asparagus, and even hot mustard on some wilted iceberg lettuce! The Christmas wrapping paper and the credit card bills from the stack of mail, Minnie discovered all on her own. Hmmmm . . . . . so far I haven’t found ANYTHING she won’t eat!
Ahhhh . . . adventures in dog sitting. Note to self: I can’t wait to be a Grand Pa!