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    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Stupid Pet-Owner Tricks

    I’m writing in hopes that there are other families like ours who have stumbled into a problem they don’t quite know how to handle. I’m talking, of course, of owning a pet that is smarter than you.

    If you follow this blog you know the story of how we ended up with our Blue Heeler, Willie. She was not the breed we set out to adopt, but we fell in love with her cute face, beautiful markings, and silly, long legs.

    We looked up Heelers online and pretty much ignored all the “negative” things said about them. Let me re-phrase. There aren’t tons of warnings about Heelers out there, it’s just that many sites say they are one person dogs and not right for a family.

    No one ever told Willie she was a one person dog, so she seems to love us all equally.

    The herding thing—well, that is something to contend with. We quickly learned that Willie prefers the whole family to be in one room. If most of us are in the living room and one person is upstairs, she will go back and forth between the separated people, whining until the rogue member is back where he or she belongs.

    This really isn’t too bad because usually you can tell her to mind her own business and she’ll slink away with a few reproachful glances. But when the kids get riled up, Willie’s patience is severely tried. We’re pretty sure she thinks of Monkey and Chunky as her cows. If they run ahead of her, she runs and circles them, then runs back to Kory or I, making loops between cowboy and cattle.

    She doesn’t understand that sometimes boys are just wild. They’ll bounce off the walls, she’ll try to corral them, and then look at us as if to say, “People, don’t you see what your cows are doing?”

    When we don’t do anything to calm the kids down, she whines and barks at us in a little doggie lecture. I can almost hear her say, “You do not know how to control your cows. If you’d just let me give them each a good nip, they’d get in line. I know it.”

    Poor, harried herder.

    Our vet told us that she was so smart she would need a job to do or she would dig up the yard, build a catapult, and conquer the neighbors. He was right. Unfortunately, we’ve been a little busy lately, and Willie has had some quantity (not quality) outdoor time. She has begun what appear to be preparations for a siege in the backyard.

    She’s also learned how to operate our automatic trashcan. The lid opens when you wave a hand over the sensor. Willie is now so good at this that she checks the trashcan for snacks the way the boys check the pantry every time they go by it. Yesterday, I found her like this.

    I have to wrap this blog up now. Willie needs to go outside, but she won’t go unless I give her a treat.

    Are any of you other pet owners out there so well-trained by your pet that you’re thinking about handing over the mortgage to Fido?

    1 comment:

    Beth K. Vogt said...

    Having met Willie in person (in canine?), I can atest to how smart she is. And because she is not my dog, I can look at the picture of her with her head buried in the trashcan and think, "What a brilliant dog she is to figure out how to operate that automatic trashcan!" Now, if I found my dog like that in the kitchen, I'd be grabbing the broom and screaming!
    Call me when she's completed the catapult.