Dog Training 101

The Little Psycho, our neurotic cocker spaniel,  can certainly take the fun out of eating a piece of cheese toast.  She knows not to beg, so she lies just past the line of demarcation–the footstool– with her head resting on it and her eyes full of pain and longing as she watches every bite I take.  Not only that,  she adds sound effects, making little guttural grunts and moaning noises as I chew. 

These aren’t whiny, begging sounds like normal dogs make.   Have you ever tried to go to sleep  in a cheap, thin-walled motel with  the bed headboard  in the room next door  rhythmically hitting against the common wall behind your head?  You know the moaning noises which accompanied… banging?   THAT kind of sound.

(ONLY ONCE have we picked a spot on the map for a weekend trip just because it had a pretty name:  Meadows of Dan, Virginia.  Perhaps delightful accommodations abound now; then, they were non-existent.   We–Dearly Beloved, our barfing baby and I needed a cleanup and stopped at the only place we could find:  one cut loose from the Bates Motel chain for not being up to standard. )

If that was you in the next room, my apologies for the above comment.)

The moaning isn’t the only part of Miss Piggy’s daily routine  that drives us nuts.    I’m usually out of bed  first and tiptoe past as she snores loudly in her dog bed behind our bedroom door.  Eventually she staggers sleepily into the sunroom and does a series of stretches, rolls, and scratches while  I stand by the back door to let her out.  Understand that if I do NOT stand by the back door, she will simply lie down and snooze until I take my position. 

Finally she acknowledges my doorman status and goes down the steps to sniff and search  for any food which may have materialized during the night.   Yes, that probably  includes rabbit turds.  Sometimes she makes a score in the compost heap.   She often forgets that her mission was supposed to be to relieve herself.  Relief to her is a food score.

After yard patrol she races. . . RACES, mind you. . . back up the stairs and skids around the corner into the laundry room to see if the Food Fairy filled her bowl during her absence.   If the magic happened,  she inhales the contents, wolfing it down without taking a breath.  If she finds the bowl empty  (oops! the food fairy was watching the weather report)  she waits in her laundry room bed  lest she not be there  to spring into action  the second it arrives. 

The Food Fairy visited on schedule this morning and the bowl licked clean immediately, but you couldn’t tell it by the longing eyes and moaning noises I’m getting.   I shouldn’t, but I save her a crust with a little cheese on it.  It disappears in a nanosecond.  Then she lies nearby to nap until Dearly Beloved takes her for their morning walk. 

That should be a simple matter, but again, we’re dealing with  The Little Psycho.  DB will say something like, “Come on, Girl, let’s go for a walk!” and she will shake  her little stubby tail with excitement, then ignore him.  He will shake the leash and repeat his command, if one can call it that.  If he’s lucky, she will crawl a few feet  and lie in front of the entertainment center so that she can see  the front door and have a better view of DB’s begging.   He calls her again.  Her tail thumps against the floor, enjoying the ceremony,  but she doesn’t move.

This is about the time I start screaming inside, “Just come and hook her up and give her a little yank!”  but he waits her out.   He says this is a learning process.   The dog is 13 1/2 years old.  Somebody is not a fast learner. 

Eventually she will roll, wallow, and crawl her way to the entry hall and their morning dance continues until she is within arms’ reach.  That’s the rule.  He won’t move, she won’t hurry, and the rite continues until I begin to wonder if  wine in the morning could be considered a fruit juice under certain circumstances.

Their  return trip involves  another ritual:  the slam of the garbage can lid,  Miss Piggy’s race up the back steps to see if any food materialized, followed by DB with his  look of disbelief.  He shakes his head and says, “I don’t understand her.  She couldn’t possibly have held that another minute.  She barely made it out the door.”   

Miss Piggy rests again, no doubt to dream of kibble.   The crinkle of a granola bar wrapping  snaps her to attention and she waddles around on sniff patrol around the kitchen, den, and sunroom to inhale even the tiniest crumb.   This chore evokes another set of  sound effects:   rooting, snorting noises  a champion, truffle-hunting pig might make near the  big score.   The crumb patrol rarely offers  much satisfaction.  DB is a neat eater and any crumbs I drop instantly fly onto my computer keyboard to give any floating dog hairs  something to wrap themselves around as the disappear under my keys.

Last week we had to give her prednisone because of an ear infection.  “It may cause an increase in appetite,” the vet warned us, “but don’t feed her anything extra.  She still needs to lose a few pounds.”

Let the moaning begin. 

"'Tis not the meat, but 'tis the appetite makes eating a delight."
"'Tis not the meat, but 'tis the appetite makes eating a delight."

 That quote is by Sir John Suckling.  No kidding!


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