Saturday, January 3, 2009

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks

Or…perhaps the title should read “An old dog will learn new tricks whether you teach them or not”.

Charley has added a new trick to her rather slim repertoire. It is called “Get Mom Away From The Computer”. She has been practicing it for the past several weeks.

My dogs seldom have to ask to go out because I am in and out frequently enough, dogs in tow, that their needs are met – and when I’m not going in and out myself I am closely in tune with what they are up to and offer them the opportunity to go outside even before they ask.

However, all of them know how to ask to go out if necessary – some more effectively than others. Princess Belle lets out a very sharp, repetitive royal command “Let Me Out NOW”. Sadie lets out a soft gentle woof “Um, excuse me, could you please open the door?”. Oliver is a bit more of a challenge since he just stands nose to door (literally – the tip of his nose actually touching the door) and waits for someone to notice. Fortunately, Charley will usually notice and run to get me.

Charley is the cop and chief dog organizer around here, forever informing me when a canine sibling is chasing the cat, going where they shouldn’t, pestering some other critter, welcoming an intruder, wandering around in the middle of the night, etc. Charley also scratches the door when she (or any of the others) needs out. And lately, Charley has needed out a lot due to bowel problems – possibly colitis.

And therein lies the problem. At eleven and a half years old, Charley has figured out that scratching the door will bring me running. And so she has a new trick. Scratch the door, wait for mom to get up from her chair, leave the computer or the tv or the book or the laundry or whatever she is doing, and then…..turn and walk away. Or watch in amusement as mom opens the door and then just stand there looking out. “Yup. That’s the outside. Pretty huh? No, I don’t need out right now, thanks.”

Of course, while mom is up she will hopefully decide (a) to take all the dogs for a run (b) to feed the dogs (c) to do something, anything, more interesting than staring at a computer screen ignoring the dogs.

It has started to get annoying. But she has me over a barrel because the first time I ignore the scratching you know – you just KNOW – that a certain someone with a bowel disorder will have really needed out and there will be a sloppy, stinky mess on the floor.

Smart dog, that one. She’s finally figured out that she IS the boss of me.


Patience-please said...

Ah! Life with a Very Old Dog! Challenging, frightening, maddening, full of love and laughter. And every single day a blessing.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Smart dog for sure. I think she has just decided to stop letting you THINK you were the boss:)

Anonymous said...

What Black Jack's Carol said!

Thanks Jean for all the lovely wintery photos and stories to keep me smiling and entertained in this winter which never ends....