Monday, June 13, 2016

Jessica the cheerleader

I've taken to putting the barricading board in the doggy door between the garage and the back yard so the dogs, Jessica primarily, would be forced to stay out back -- rather than rush back through the doggy door, into the house and up the stairs where Jessica would interfere with the used absorbent pads I was picking up and the clean ones I was putting down.  She liked to grab them if she could and go dashing off with them.

Jessica doesn't mind being in the back yard as long as someone keeps her company.  Usually it's Ben.  And one of Ben's favorite sports is to "fence-fight" with the neighboring dogs.  In the past, before Jessica, I would hear his big booming barks for about 30 seconds and then he would rush inside.  But yesterday his barking went on much longer.  Perhaps, I thought, it is because he can't get back into the house.  I went downstairs and looked through the patio window.  There was Ben rushing back and forth, sticking his head between some rose bushes next to the fence, barking furiously, and then moving between a different set of rose bushes to bark some more.  And there was Jessica about five feet back from him, running parallel to him, stopping each time he stopped, with her little tail wagging furiously.  She wasn't barking, but I'll bet he knew she was there with her little tail, and I'll bet he felt egged on to fence-fight at his best.


Today I decided to start working with Jessica so she could come down the stairs.  I couldn't in good conscience be mad at her for using (and missing) the absorbent pads I put down for her in my study if she had no recourse to the back yard.  She could go up the stairs fine, but she couldn't go down.  I had been putting it off teaching her because tearing things up in my study was one thing, but did I really want her to be able to go downstairs and have access to the whole house?  Someone once wrote to the effect that if we insisted on knowing how things were going to turn out before we did them, we'd never do anything.  So this evening, starting at the top of the stairs I eased her down from step to step until she was at the bottom.  "There," I said encouragingly, the first lesson done, took the leash off her and began cooking my dinner.   A few minutes later I looked and saw her up at the top of the stairs looking down.  "Come on," I said.  "you can do it," not believing anything of the sort, and she ran in a stumbling way down the stairs and slid several feet out onto the tile.  I was astounded.  I rewarded her (and Ben and Duffy of course) with some little bits of ham.

I went back to cooking but stopped at one point to see what Jessica was up to.  I went up stairs and saw she was in the hall leading from the study.  "Well, perhaps the turn in the stairs leading to the landing and then making the right turn down to the ground floor is confusing her."  Not so.  Jessica followed me back down without difficulty.  Once downstairs she began exploring a bit more, causing me some worry.   So I took her upstairs and put her into the little barricaded area in front of my desk.  Back downstairs cooking I looked around and there she was again.    I put Jessica and Ben in the backyard, took my dinner upstairs and saw that the barricade was down.  Jessica must have jumped against it.  Her little ten pounds of weight was enough to do it.  I fixed it more substantially, let Ben and Jessica back in, and was prepared to put her back into that area once she did something objectionable which she always does, but she didn't do anything wrong.  Has she learned that if I tell her "no" a couple of times and she keeps on doing it, it is off to jail she goes and she is being careful to avoid those infractions?

Is she turning into a well-behaved little girl?  I doubt it.  She is extra tired today because of the vet visit, the shots she received, and all that time in the back yard and other excitements.  But it seemed like progress.


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