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Archive for July 30th, 2007

Dog-Sitters


We’re dog-sitting my sister’s dog. She’s an absolutely beautiful gun dog, six years old, and apparently trained for hunting. Which means whenever she sees a bird – no, let me rephrase that – whenever she hears… thinks she hears a bird she freezes and stares straight ahead. My sister’s family got her because she was actually no good as a gun dog as she got somewhat over-eager and tended to chase the birds away. At least that’s what I’ve been told. But now, at the age of six, she is to become a standard family pet. It’s proving a major challenge.

There is a lot of good things about her. She is very sweet; she puts her head against your legs and just stands there waiting for you to give her a cuddle. And like most dogs she tap-dances like mad when a meal is in the pipeline. But unlike most dogs she tends not to sniff much when she is walked until the last few seconds before she has a pee or a poop. At that point she will head into the underbrush in a surprise-attack fashion, usually dragging her walker along with her, zig-zag and huff and puff until she gets into pee-or poop position, and then she will conduct her business in a business-like manner still keeping her eyes and ears peeled for prey. She completely ignores other dogs. And she sometimes snaps at young men for no apparent reason.

She has taken to me and Kevin, and I have been appointed Leader of the Pack in my brother-in-law’s absence while Kevin can be relied upon for frequent walks and silly playing. We were not really sure about the playing thing to tell the truth. She has displayed so many non-doggy traits we were not quite sure she even knew how to play, and when given a chew-bone today she just stared at Kevin as if he were mad. She may well have a point, but… last night Kevin woke up to find her sitting next to our bed just staring at us with the same intensity as when marking prey… Stephen King – are you reading this? This is material for your next book!

Just to complete the madness she is also in season for the first time since her arrival in the family. And I can honestly say; if she were mine I would have her spayed immediately. She hardly ever leaves my side, she would gladly join me in the shower scrubbing my back if I let her. She is constantly begging for walks, today she showed vague interest in another dog for the first time and she paces – and paces – and paces, AND PACES!! until we just want to SCREAM. So we take her for walks getting our arms tugged in every direction while she scouts for – she’s not quite sure what. She’s funny though. She sits on command. Sharply. The moment you say Sit! her bum is on the ground, though she maintains a crouching stealth position; head sticking out, one paw in the air, crouching low. The perfect little soldier.

We’re doing our best to pick the hunting-training off her. We’re trying to teach her to walk on a lead and not throw her body under passing cars, and we’re teaching her how to play fetch and chew bones. And I’ve done a couple of half-hearted attempts at teaching her to balance treats on her nose, but her look of misery over this idea is too heartbreaking for me to carry the training through. She will not be able to compete with Chuck. At the moment she is failing miserably as a pet, but she is trying oh so hard! to understand what we want of her, so eager to please it hurts to watch her.

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