Doglish 101 ~ July 16, 2015

I'm a what?!

In the complicated world of communication between humans and canines, it’s apparent I pretty much don’t know jack. As in nada, nein, nyeht, zilch and this fact is constantly reminding me of that given the looks I receive whenever I speak to Sam. Anyone who’s been a parent to a pouty hormone laden teenager knows THAT look.

  • Exhibit A: In our household, the command for “let’s step on it and move” is “chop, chop.”  In Sam’s brain, ‘chop, chop’ apparently means “ooh, look, a butterfly, I should check this out more closely” or more frequently it will mean, “I’ll do it in my own sweet time when I feel like it.” More often than not, it’s when I’m in a hurry or trying to balance sacks of groceries while maneuvering the door with a knee and making sure he gets inside so I don’t trip over him, kill myself in the process and spill everything all over the floor. Sam apparently views this time as open season to aggravate the parental unit judging by his slow-mo reaction.
  • Exhibit B: Let me set the stage here. There is a split rail fence around our front yard garden and we’re on a corner lot so there’s lots of real estate. “Stay in the yard” apparently means, “well only if you really, really want to” because no sooner than the command is spoken, I see Sam sauntering down the street on some scent trail or to say hi to a neighbor out walking past. When I holler at him to “get back in your yard” he gives me such a look of disdain I’ve not seen since I first grounded my kids when they were teenagers. After giving me the stink-eye, he ever so casually walks back into the yard with more disdainful looks over the shoulder, not even pretending to feel any kind of remorse.
  • Exhibit C:  “Off” can be a wonderful command (in theory) that can be used to keep pets off furniture, people, and lovely flowering plants. The other day I said “OFF!” to Sam as he gave me that hither may come look over his shoulder whereby he turned his head in the opposite direction and promptly lifted his leg on a peony bush. Argh!!! What part of “OFF” do you not understand dog?!

I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that dogs can be bi-lingual. I’ve witnessed dogs who understand commands in German, English and Spanish. I’ve also come to the conclusion that something clearly gets lost in translation where Sam is concerned. It tends to revolve around what his agenda is, not so much what I want him to do or not do. I’ve joked about Sam being the ‘simple dog’ over the years, but as I reflect on his behavior I think he’s far more stubborn than he is dumb. And because of that, I need to find a translator because currently, Sam isn’t interested in learning English. Anyone know of a dog translater up for the task? I’ll even grant that I may be part of the problem, but as this hound gets older, he becomes more and more challenging. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s really a Standard Poodle or a more likely a substandard poodle. 😉

Live, love, bark! <3

Deaf or Dumb?

Remember this not-too long ago post about our hope to share great adventures from our visit to hospice and the hospital? Well, I’m here to tell you that “great’ might have been a bit of a stretch and over zealous on my part. Truth be told, I am more flummoxed than ever. Apparently getting even for the bath thing was on the agenda though I didn’t know it at the time.

I’m never quite sure which Sam will show up when we go off to the hospital. It could easily be ‘deaf Sam’ where he just doesn’t hear my commands. Granted, I am somewhat soft-spoken at the hospital. Personally, I think it’s important not to go inside sounding like a stevedore shouting out greetings and what-have-you on our shifts. But I suspect it’s more a case of selective hearing. ‘Yeah, I know you said to do “X” but I’m gonna act like I didn’t hear you and not do it.’

Then again it could be ‘Simple Sam’ (otherwise known as the dummy) who shows up. When I give a command for him to put his feet up on a bed, he’ll look at me as if I just spoken to him in Yugoslavian.

Lately though he’s done really well with the “Feet”command where he puts his front paws on a bed to let a patient pet him or to get a closer look at those sweet eyes. If I were to say “Up,” he’ll pogo-stick his entire body up on the bed and while it can be weird endearing sort of, it more often it startles patients, not exactly the kind of practice conducive to healing, now is it?

So after we checked in, I made my preliminary rounds which means stopping by the front desk and saying hello to our friend, Nicole. She’s super adorable, cute as a button with a million watt smile-just the kind of person you’d want greeting visitors at the hospital. Often times, there may be a student volunteer there as well helping out and I know they enjoy Sam’s visits and it gets him ready for the harder work with patients. We also swing by the Gift Shop too since it’s almost always manned by high school student volunteers and the girls absolutely LOVE Sam and he naturally loves their attention.

So imagine my surprise when I gave the “Feet” command and pointed to the counter and Sam popped up like a Jack-in-the-Box with all 4 feet landing on the counter looking quite innocently and pleased with himself. Sweet Nicole laughed and said “oh my, I sure wasn’t expected that!” Naturally, I was horrified by his broad interpretation complete disregard of the command. He’s actually done so well with it lately, it just never occurred to me that he’d completely blow me off, especially around someone he knows.

Yet he wasn’t quite finished being a toad. A few minutes later when we were up on a floor,  I gave the command again (could it be that I’m the numskull here since we’d already had an epic fail downstairs–what was I thinking?). I thought he’d actually put his feet up on the bed for a patient who was very excited to see us. What did that dog do?

IMG_1816You may not be able to tell from this photo but how about full on “Scoot over lady…INCOMING!!” He totally jumped in the middle of her lap. OMG, what is wrong with this doofus? While it’s not specifically against the rules when dogs are invited up onto beds with patients, the key word here is being ‘invited‘. As you can see, she was a very good sport about it, albeit surprised but I was completely embarrassed and horrified. We visited with her for a few more minutes, all the while she kept petting Sam and saying what a sweet face he has and, of course he was eating it up like crazy. No doubt in his smug mind pea sized brain, I’m pretty sure he was subconsciously sticking his tongue out at me and thinking “Ha, ha so there–give me a bath will you!” He pretty much did the same thing to a guy we visited shortly thereafter but that guy so missed his own dog, I don’t think he realized that Sam was being a brat. Course, he did casually mention that Sam was kind of nudging him over to the far edge of the bed (OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT DOG?!). We joked about that (I tried desperately not to totally wig out choke the life out of that miscreant therapy dog) and then Sam and I left to visit with patients, visitors and Sam’s favorite nurses over at hospice. Ever since though, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not Sam is deaf…or dumb.

Then again after several days of reflection, I’m wondering if there isn’t a very fine line between being dumb and being stubborn. Now to just figure out which one that dingbat dog is because he clearly hears me open a package of cheese from the fridge no matter where he is at in the house, so we can probably rule out his being deaf! 😉

Live, love, bark! <3