Monday, January 21, 2013

6 Reasons Why I Love My Dog

The other day, Barley and I were out walking with my mom and her dog.  Mom and I had almost finished building a second jump and I mentioned that Barley would probably be doing plenty of jumping Monday before class since I'd be home all day and she'd have plenty of time to make me crazy.  My mom said, "Oh, I thought she'd have plenty of time to make you proud."  I spend a lot of time recounting Barley's struggles and the things that make me crazy (even though they are also a big part of why I love this dog), so I thought it might be nice to take a few minutes to reflect on the things she does that make me proud.

1.  Barley loves life.  This dog is always happy and always ready for adventure.  Her tail never stops wagging and most of the time her whole entire body is wagging.  When we were in obedience classes, a lot of the class time was spent practicing stays.  Most other dogs would lie down and put their chins on their paws and stay perfectly still; some would even roll onto their sides.  Barley lies down in the sphinx position, tail wagging, tongue hanging out and ready for anything the trainer would throw our way.  Even though the ideal posture would be a little more relaxed, she's so happy and you can tell how much she loves learning and it made even our grumpiest classmates smile to see her goofy expressions.

2.  Barley is beyond patient with me.  I can do just about anything I want to this dog.  I can dress her up in reindeer antlers and santa hats and scarves and do a three-costume-change photo shoot.  I can dress her in a t-shirt so we can cast our vote for Andrew McCutchen to be on a video game cover.

3. Barley loves her fur-sibling.  Even though she likes to herd him, Barley is so good with her brother. When Bar and I play, Soth will crouch under the dining room table and leap out and latch on to her back legs and she runs by.  Barley doesn't bat an eyelash.  When Soth has had to stay at the vet for testing, Barley has moped around the house and kissed him when he came home.

4. She tries REALLY hard not to react to other dogs.  We had a lot of success this weekend with walking by other dogs.  There's a new border collie-lab mix puppy in my parents' neighborhood and we walked along beside him for about a block; Barley was interested in him, but never barked, snarled, or lunged.  We also took my parents' neighbors' corgi for a walk with us and even though the corgi barked at Barley for the entire walk, she didn't react at all (until he stuck his nose up her butt . . .).

5. She's REALLY good at recall.  Most of the time, Barley comes when called.  For example, this weekend Mom and I were making the second jump in the garage.  I took Barley down into the basement and opened the garage door without thinking.  Lo and behold, Mom had the big garage door wide open.  Barley trotted right through it, but as soon as I called her to front she was sitting at my feet.

6.  She gives me EXCELLENT stories to tell.  Since today is Squirrel Appreciation Day according to my Randall's Honey Badger calendar, I'll leave you with the story of the Great Squirrel Slaying of 2011.
Once upon a time on a lovely fall day, I was in the backyard with Barley cleaning up dog poop.  Barley was on her retractable leash and peacefully sniffing the yard while I scooped piles into a plastic bag with a little trowel.  All of the sudden, I heard a chirping noise.  I looked over my shoulder and saw a squirrel on the bottom of the closest tree.  Before I could react and reel Barley in, she was tearing towards the tree.  The next thing I knew the squirrel was hanging limply from her mouth.  I screamed bloody murder, tossed the plastic bag and the trowel into the air, and ran towards the door.  Barley, knowing that scream means "Mom's horrified" (after all, she had heard it when she tried to lick the bird that had hit our window and landed dead in the bushes), dropped the squirrel and ran with me.  I peaked out of the spare bedroom window and watched the squirrel's tail wave once in surrender and then it was still.  Not being one to deal well with dead animals, I left the squirrel--hoping it would either get up and scurry away later or be carried away by one of the neighborhood's feral cats; mostly, I was afraid that it wouldn't be dead, but would be paralyzed--and I knew I couldn't finish it off.  (I have since gotten better and did remove the mouse Barley caught from the front step after I was sure it was dead.)  All day, I kept checking out the window only to see the small brown lump still in the yard.  Barley and I avoided the backyard for a week until the lawn people came to mow the yard; I watched to see if they would scoop up the carcass, but instead they simply ran it over with the riding lawn mower.  Barley and I continued to avoid the backyard for a significant period of time.  Ever since the Great Squirrel Slaughter of 2011, Barley has been obsessed with squirrels on our walks; before, she wouldn't react when she saw them sitting beside the sidewalk or freezing on a tree trunk, but now that she knows the taste of victory, she's on a mission to catch as many as she can.
Barley with Herman the Vermin: my aunt and cousin thought this would be a hilarious Christmas present for Barley.

1 comment:

  1. Aw I love all those things, too! Especially all the pictures :-)