Dogs: Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em at Home: I don’t think so!

Checking my moms cell phone plan: Are treats included?
Checking my mom's cell phone plan: Are treats included?

My mom Cathy just read me this article from the New York Times. Apparently some people think dogs should be left at home and others (like my mom) want to take their dogs everywhere.

Speaking as a dog (the only way I can speak, if you call this speaking), I don’t want to go everywhere. My mom’s tried to sneak me into supermarkets. Sometimes they let us go but I hate those shiny, polished floors. I dig my paws in and Cathy has to drag me along. Naturally we can’t be inconspicuous when that happens. Yaay! We are forced to leave in disgrace.

But coffee shops? Another story. My mom used to go to Uptown Espresso in Seattle all the time. She’d tap away on her laptop or read. I would curl up and sleep. Everybody loved us. Strangers would come up to offer me treats, which my mom always declined on my behalf.

My mom takes me to the Verizon store where she has endless questions about using her new Droid. She is shameless about asking for help and getting the store people to help install all sorts of applications. Geoffrey Hise (the store manager in the photo) introduced her to Bus Bot and now I have to sit patiently at the bus stop while she fiddles around wondering when the next bus is due. Usually it takes her so long the bus comes while she’s poking the screen.

Mom doesn’t mind asking for help. “I know I’m Internet-savvy,” she says. “Besides most people won’t use half their apps because they’re afraid to speak up and admit what they don’t know.”

True. I don’t know too many dogs who are shy about asking for anything. Why not? A resounding “no” goes right past my ears and most of the time a delicious treat goes right into my mouth.

Negotiating with dog trainer for treats in Regrade Dog Park

Here I am in Regrade Dog Park, along with a bunch of other dogs. As you can see, we are all negotiating for treats. I’m more enthusiastic than anyone else.

Andy is a dog trainer who’s just opening up his dog training¬† and dog sitting business in Seattle’s Belltown. I adore Andy. When he comes to the park with his two large chow mixes, I drop everything and rush over to say hello. (I mean that literally. Usually I have something in my mouth. The most mentionable is a tennis ball.)

Andy’s dogs are totally obedient. My mom sees them everywhere, unleashed, always obeying Andy. He can say, “Wait over here,” and they wait. I don’t think I’ll ever reach that level. My mom is negotiating with Andy for some training sessions, though. Just what i’ve always wanted.

Dog Training: Leave the books, go with a trainer

Yesterday my mom read me a story about a family who got a dog from a breeder. Read the story here.

The author, Jill Abramson, said the family watched the Cesar Milan tapes and bought the book by the Monks of New Skete.

I would just advise this family not to buy too many dog manuals or watch TV shows. (Why are you indoors watching television anyway? You should be out with the dog.) Instead, invest in a good trainer and learn modern techniques.

Some training tips are just plain cruel. My mom read about books that tell owners to stick dogs’ noses in water to cure them of digging. Yuk.

My mom has been training me to walk politely on my leash. She points out that I can hurt her when I pull too hard. Yeah, right. Just in case, she now carries a spray bottle with water and a pocket full of treats. When I pull on the leash, I get squirted very gently. (She has the setting on mist and can’t figure out how to change it. An unmechanical mom can be a blessing to a dog.)

And when I’m walking along, I get treats. “Treat!” my mom calls and I stop what I’m doing.

Who wants atired old chicken bone when you can have a fresh baked biscuit? Well, most of the time, anyway. Gotta keep the mom on her toes.

I’m a sheep dog!

On Saturday I went off to Ewetopia with my best big sister, Summer from the Downtown Dog Lounge. My mom was supposed to go too, but she took one step outside and just about froze. She doesn’t do too well in the cold, especially cold and rain.

Just as well. I wanted some quality time with Summer.

Summer told Cathy that I am a natural. “Gracie knew what to do with the sheep,” she said. “She herded them into a circle.”

True. I don’t know how I knew this, but I did. Somewhere in my mix is a sheepherding breed.

My mom refuses to pay for DNA tests. “I’d rather spend the money on treats and extra time at the Dog Lounge,” she says. “Or extra walks with Aunt Sara.”

For once, Mom’s got her priorities straight. But I’m still getting over the day. Time for another nap.

Dog Obedience Demonstration (Urban Style)

My mom Cathy likes me to sit at the corner when we cross the street. Here we’re on our Big Walk and I’m demonstrating how obedient I can be.

Actually, that’s what my mom thinks I’m doing. In reality I’m looking proud and regal. I’m a proud pack member who’s guarding her owner. Nobody better mess with us.

From the back, I look a little bit like a retriever. What do you think?

Back to normal (more or less)

After the cat food fiasco, my mom has been feeding me small amounts of crunchies mixed with rice. I’m eating.  I’m happy and healthy. See, mom? No bit deal. I haven’t dragged you out at 2 AM for the last two nights.

The cats are another story. Cathy doesn’t want me eating their food so she put their dishes on the kitchen counter. Creampuff enjoys jumping up. Ophelia, who’s not exactly skinny, says that waddling is more her style. So Cathy lifts he up a few times a day, hoping she’ll get the message.

Ophelia’s not into messages. I think she was spoiled rotten in her first home. But give her credit: she’s adjusted well, all things considered. Some cats hide in a closet for a whole year. Or a lifetime.

Ophelia just hides in her kitty condo.

So I’m a mutt…who cares?

Yesterday my mom wanted to take some time for R&R after her gym class. So I spent almost the entire day at the Downtown Dog Lounge with my adopted big sister, Summer, and the other folks who adore me.

“She played in the pen,” they reported when Mom came to pick me up.

“Where does she get the energy?” Mom wondered. I’m not telling.

Then everybody fussed over me on the bus trip home.

“Beautiful dog.”

“So mellow.”

“My dog would never sit like that.”

Of course, my mom has to spoil everything. She likes to tell the world, “Gracie is a rescue mutt. She thinks she’s a princess. Princesses don’t ride on the floor, so she sits on my lap.”

Well, would you want to ride on the floor? Who knows what else has been there? And how would you like being called a mutt?

Actually, my mom Cathy doesn’t mind at all. She hates the idea of classifying people by nationality or ethnic group. “I’m a mutt myself,” she says. “I don’t know anything about my ancestors either.”

My mom is like me in other ways, too.¬† She resists training and she likes treats. But nobody’s ever, ever complimented her on being well-behaved.

I’m working on it…after my nap.

A visit from the cat shrink

My mom Cathy was eager to hear what the cat shrink would say. “Dr. Jim”turned out to be like Dr. Doolittle. He talks to animals.

He’s awfully smart. He told Cathy more or less what I’ve been saying all along. Ophelia should be living alone with a nice little old lady. Well, he didn’t put it quite like that, but…

An older cat like Ophelia shouldn’t be placed with another cat, he said. But since she’s here, we can try a few tricks. So mom has them in separate rooms as much as possible. She’ll be feeding them delicious treats – but only when they are together. We could give them Prozac. (Prozac?)

No drugs yet, my mom said. She’s going to be rationing out the treats to motivate the relationship.

“After all,” my mom pointed out, “it’s not like Ophelia had a lot of choices. Not many people want a cat who’s 9 years old, overweight, and long-haired. Even little old ladies.”

And what about me? That nice Dr. Jim knows a normal, sane animal when he sees one. He decided I looked like a happy, healthy dog. He complimented me on being so good. Cathy, of course, took all the credit but hey, I can be generous. sleeping dog

Especially since Dr. Jim said I should get more treats.

“When she tries to jump on someone, make her sit and give her a reward. Carry a bag of treats. Give her a treat just for walking right.”

Wow. I love this shrink. He can analyze me anytime.

But I have more important things on my mind. We dogs have our priorities straight.

Who needs the shrink around here?

The cat shrink is coming this afternoon to see if our new housemate, Ophelia, is beyond help. Meanwhile, my mom Cathy got really worried last night. Ophelia dived under the bed and refused to come out all night. Usually she sleeps right next to Cathy’s pillow.

So early this morning Mom got up and poked the box springs cover where Ophelia (literally) hangs out. She installed Ophelia in the laundry room with food, water and a litter box. She cleverly set up a barrier so Ophelia can’t get behind the washing machine and refuse to come out, the way Creampuff does.

I peeked in while Mom was scooping the litter box. Ophelia seemed to be happy. Maybe she’s a seeker of solitude. Maybe she’s part mushroom and she likes small, dark spaces. Hmm…from a certain angle, she does kind of resemble a mushroom. cat in laundry room

Then Mom turned to me with that gleam in her eye. “You know, Gracie, if these behaviorists seem to know what they’re doing, I can hire them to work on your jumping and pulling issues.”

Uh oh. Training. Tugging my leash. Squirt guns. Anyway, what’s wrong with a few jumps now and then? I only jump on people we know or people who seem, well, suspicious. Mom should be thanking me.