Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Dancing Retriever?

 When we got our dog, I had a vision in mind of what we would be getting.  If you've ever seen the movie Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, you'll be familiar with Yellow Dog.  If you haven't seen the movie, Yellow Dog is a lazy retriever who, when Elizabeth places him in Andy's arms, looks at the camera with a total hang dog look, as if to say "Why the hell am I awake?"  Andy asks Elizabeth if the dog is alive and she laughs and says, "This one is guaranteed not to run away."

Okay, so I didn't really believe I was going to get Yellow Dog when we bought Jackson last August.  I had done some research and knew just a bit about golden retrievers, although the sites I went to failed to mention that they don't really lose their hyper until sometime around their third or fourth year.  That's a fact I really could have used.  But I did know that our 10 week old puppy was going to require some major care and responsibility.  Luckily, Justin grew up with dogs and he was able to save me numerous times from another a mental breakdown and a trip to the local shelter to unload this hound from hell that we had taken into our home.

The thing about Jack, though, is that he is a very smart dog.  He learned the basic stuff like sit, down, shake, go lay down, where's your bed, show me your belly.  And he learned them fast.  I had no idea that dogs were so, well, people-like.  I kind of started thinking hey, if this dog is this smart, maybe he could do this:

Dancing Golden Retriever 

Go ahead and watch it.  I'll wait and you'll have a lot of fun.  Then come back.

Okay, I know my dog can do this.  I do.  I've held a piece of cheese between my legs and he will follow it through them and around to the front.  Jack is incredibly smart.  But, he's also incredibly neurotic.  This is the dog we ended up with:

Yes, he's a beautiful dog.  But do you see the look on his face?  The one that says, "Momma, I love you but it's going to take you five years to teach me to walk backward like that because I'd rather try to knock you over or climb up and lick your face."

That's our ten month old puppy.  A far cry from the original little ball of fluff we brought home last year.  He's 85 pounds already, ten pounds heavier than a golden retriever is supposed to get at its largest size.   He still thinks he's a lap dog, even though he can't fit into the recliners and Justin has to constantly push him off in a total contest of wills.  As I sit here writing this, he is clawing at the screen on the sliding glass door.  Not because he wants to come in.  Because he wants to make sure I haven't gone anywhere.  If I try to let him in, he thinks I'm playing a game and will run a few feet away, turn around, and you can see him just begging me to chase him.  He hasn't quite figured out that when you play fetch, you have to let go of the ball before the person can throw it again, meaning I either have to fight him for possession or have two or three extra balls in my hand.

This dog has become "our" dog, a member of the family.  I have always been a cat person and I admit that I knew nothing about raisin' no puppies...but I love this neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, inbred, shedding machine more than I ever thought possible.  Just check out those ears and imagine being able to play with velvet all day long.

Justin and I have divided up into our separate corners of the house.  He has the downstairs with his office in the front room and the dog.  I have our bedroom with my office in a corner and the cats.  I love my cats, especially Kylie, who is sweet and shy and likes to wake up and make a lot of noise when we are trying to sleep.  But what I've figured out about our cats is that they don't really play.  (It took me this long to realize this?)  Dogs are great accessories for a walk and they will allow you to pet them as long as you're willing.  And then push their nose under your hand when you stop.  And, best of all, they do tricks!  He's taught me a new one where he rolls the ball down the basement steps and I go retrieve it.  Score one for the puppy.  I told you he's smart.

I would love to find classes in our area that could teach me how to teach Jack to dance.  But first, I'm going to have to find the class that teaches the dog how to not get car sick.  Every time we put him in the car, he barfs.  I thought dogs liked riding in cars.  Every time I open the car door and encourage him to get in, he backs away as if I've asked him to spend the day in a pen at the zoo.  What are you, woman?  Nuts?

I've discovered several books on the subject on Amazon and I think I may have to put them on my "wish list," since I'm on a quest not to spend money.  (Not that I'm doing that great with that, but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  Haha.)  I think having a dancing dog would be the ultimate coolest thing that could happen to me right now aside from having a publisher come marching up to my door with a contract and a check.  I'm willing to put in the work, but I'm not sure my dog is ready to follow my every command to the soundtrack of Grease.  But we're getting there.  And cheese is a great motivator.

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