Monday, February 20, 2006

What dogs really want

We like to think we play an important role in our dogs’ lives, not just a kibble provider and romping companion, but as somehow central. A book I read many years ago put this vain hope into perspective: it turns out that what dogs really want is other dogs.

See Miss Cassandra enjoying the Westminster Dog Show last night. [Sorry, I have a lovely photo, but have lost the cord to my digital camera.] I had to laugh. I don’t think I have ever seen her watch television so attentively in her short six months of life.

Meanwhile, her house-wrecking has escalated. I had a long day Friday, and it was too cold for her to come along, so I came home to an azalea plant flung around the living room—two piles of potting soil ground into the carpet and one pile of thrown-up azalea leaves as evidence—and an almost empty jar of peanut butter. This new assault on items on counter height and above is very alarming, as is the capacity to take lids off peanut butter jars. Pincushion and balls of yarn were easy, expected targets, but the bag of flour and the carton of eggs stolen from the kitchen counter—unexpected and not a good trend.

The new phone ($8 at Big Lots!) still in its armor packaging may have survived its turn as a chew toy, but the old phone did not, its cord wrapped around and around the foot of the guest room bed and chewed to shreds. If you know me outside blogland and you are trying to reach me by phone….leave a message, okay?

For reasons too complex to go into, my internet connection has been moved from one end of my house to the other end—where there is only one outlet. I operate a wireless network at home, so my internet lifeline is unaffected, but it will take some time before I can get an electrician in and have the Vonage phone set up again. It will happen, Mintaining communications in this fast-changing, technological world can be challenging, but it will happen—after all, just as what dog really want is other dogs, what people really want is other people.


Anonymous said...

Oh this made me really smile because there has been a phone issue here too but more my doing than either Rhys or Banon if truth be told. Thinking that the phone on lo table in kitchen, which was favoured for a little surreptitious chewing in the early days, would be to tempting to ignore I set about moving it....unfortunately my grip and balance are not always so good and I managed to lose balance as I bent down knocking the table which sent the phone-answerphone flying into the air which by some fluke i managed to catch however it was with my left hand hich because of dislocation before Christmas is even less capable of holding on to anything than previously so as I felt pleased with my juggling skills I watched the phone slip out of my hand and straight into Rhys and Banon's large water bowl! The look on the two pups faces was increduality and disdain mixed with an ah shame expression which just made me laugh.

Julia said...

I am alarmed!
We have a new puppy (born 31st October)... after several years in the company of cats (civilised, low-maintenance, self-cleaning) I am wondering what the heck I have let myself in for!
Our puppy (Tibetan terrier called Tashi)is a sweetheart and seems smart but... are we in for trouble?
Do you recommend obediance classes?
Should I leave home?

Karen said...

Nobody will ever love you as deeply and truly as your puppy. Humans do their best, but they are not wired for adoration, and cats just want staff.

You are, however, most certainly in for trouble. Please remember that you are in charge, you are the alpha dog in Tashi's world.

I highly, strongly, definitively recommend obedience classes. Miss Cassandra also is crated during the day, which has been very successful. Not only does it keep her out of trouble, it requires that I not spend so many hours at a stretch at work. I come home every four-five hours to give her and myself a break. If you can't do that, you will have much more house damage in the next few months.

You can't expect too much from a puppy at Tashi's age, but by Cassie's age--six and a half months--she is beginning to learn. She has been quick all along to learn not to bite or jump on me, but there has been a big leap in her ability to learn and willingness to work on obedience in the last couple of weeks. I guess that's why people advise not trying obedience classes until six months of age.

Socialization, though, is key. Try to have your puppy meet lots of dogs, play with lots of dogs, and interact with lots of different people. Besides giving confidence, it tires the puppy out, and a tired puppy is a good puppy.

Julia said...

Thanks for the advice Karen...
I was lulled into a false sense of security by Tashi's apparent ability to distinguish between dog toys and non-chewable objects..
I came home to find he'd used a corner of a wall as a teething ring and discovered the electric cables... he's safe, the cables are in the study where he's always supervised, at least when the teen isn't too busy downloading to his MP3 player!
On the plus side I have lost 1/2 stone since we got him!
Have a good w/e!