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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Canine Capers

Things have been quiet on the blog front lately because I have been persistently under the weather, spending most of my days in bed. When I have had the energy, much it has gone toward various dog activities, as per usual.

A beautiful Pyrenees Mountain Dog

The first order of business is to introduce you to my newest dog-sitting client, a magnificent Pyrenees Mountain Dog that I'll call Cutie. Like my other clients, she is large. Unlike my other clients, she is under the age of ten! Cutie is just two years old and is as big and beautiful as can be. She likes toys, belly rubs, playing keep-away, and snoozing. Fun fact: Pyrenees Mountain Dogs have double dewclaws on their back legs! Cutie also has pretty white eyelashes, surprisingly soft fur (for a dog that was bred to guard flocks of sheep on mountain slopes), and a tail that is carried low when she's feeling mellow and high over her back when she's excited. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better this year!

And another big, fluffy dog...

I also did a quick overnight with Mr. Gorgeous, whose coat is in its full winter state of resplendency. (While both Cutie and Mr. Gorgeous were bred to look after sheep in bad weather and have fur coats to match, Cutie's skull is about three times the width of Mr. Gorgeous'!) He was his usual lazy self, wanting only the occasional game of slow-mo, indoor keep-away, the timely delivery of his dinner, and the occasional deep scratching.

I was reminded of the myth of Narcissus when I captured this image of Mr. Gorgeous and his reflection.

And on the home front, Abbey and I have been busy playing with the vacuum cleaner.

Abbey and the vacuum on their first play date.

Abbey has had a poor relationship with the vacuum since Day One. I have to keep her shut up in a room with me while my father vacuums because otherwise she launches stealth attacks on it, going right for the soft underbelly, hoping to disembowel the dangerous beast. I'd been wanting an excuse to write Ask Doodlebug, my favorite doggie advice columnist, and was tickled when he replied when "Abbey" wrote in to discuss this issue with him. I'd already known how I ought to proceed in helping Abbey be less scared of the vacuum, but following up on Doodlebug's advice was a good incentive to actually do it. So we've been playing lots of "treats with the vacuum" at my house. Abbey started out rather nervous, but now "treats with the vacuum" is her FAVORITE game and she wants to play it all the time! I'll be on the computer upstairs and she'll come over and budge me and then wiggle, trying to entice me to come down and hide pieces of kibble or peanuts on the vacuum cleaner. Anytime I come downstairs, she twirls and dances and wags like mad as she stands by the vacuum cleaner (which I've parked in our family room), while gesturing with her head, trying to convince me to bust out the treats! So in less than a week's time we have gone from total mistrust to Abbey being able to walk beside me, taking treats, while I push the vacuum cleaner around. It's turned off, mind you, but I'm thinking by tomorrow she'll be ready to have it switched on for the first time. We've never given Abbey many treats because she has a sensitive tummy and she's always been suitably intelligent and compliant to follow basic commands with minimal reinforcement, but it turns out that she's incredibly treat-motivated, which is incredibly handy for training purposes. It's been funny to watch her growing rapport with the vacuum and I've definitely needed something to laugh about during these drab days when migraines and fatigue take up most of my time.

My dear companion, in both sickness and in health.

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