Thursday, June 30, 2016

She Ain't Lassie

When I was little--maybe 4--I was playing in our yard, fell on rotten fence board, and a rusty nail went into my knee. My dog, Possum, ran and got my mom. I was convinced that she did this because we'd spent hours watching Lassie together.

This weekend, while most of you were at BlogPaws, I decided I should also be productive and paint my downstairs bathroom. I was a little nervous about the endeavor because my mom has been there to help (and do all of the fine touches like around the ceiling), but the bathroom isn't huge and Lowe's was having a great rebate offer on paint (they still are for another few days if anyone else needs paint), so I figured I could handle things.

I managed to get all of the litter Soth had kicked around the bathroom cleaned up and painter's tape around the shower tiles in no time at all and was ready to start my adventure by early afternoon. I used a brush to cut in around the edges and the outlets the way my mom had shown me when we did the bedroom and kitchen. I used the roller to do the first coat on the majority of the wall.

Then it was time to do the part I was dreading--the top few inches of the wall. I hate heights. If I can help it, I stay off of ladders. Even going up one or two steps is more than I like to do. But I couldn't just leave the top of the wall until my mom could come visit and take care of that for me, so I braced myself and latched the roller pan onto the ladder's shelf and climbed up.

At first, there were no problems. I made it through a wall and a half with just a few little spots on my very popcorned ceiling (which painter's tape does not stick to) and I was feeling pretty confident. Then I needed to move the ladder and I'm not exactly sure what happened after that. Maybe I stepped too far and went past the last step. Maybe I didn't step far enough. But the next thing I knew, I was falling off the ladder, the paint can was knocked over (but miraculously righted itself), and then I was falling into the bathtub.

If the paint can wouldn't have been involved, I probably would have laid in the tub and wallowed for a while, but I managed to get myself up to assess the damage. There was paint everywhere (although somehow the majority of the paint was still in the can)--on the toilet (and in it), on the tub, on the drop cloth, on the floor, and all over me.

After hours of clean up, this still remains.

I might have cursed a few times. There was definitely a loud crash (or two or three) during the fall. But guess who never once decided to check on me? 

In reality, I'm glad she didn't check on me (but still, it's the principle of the thing!). She would have stepped in the paint and taken the mess outside of the bathroom. She probably would have given me the same look of disdain that she gives me when I slip on ice while we walk. Quite simply, she expects more from me than Lassie ever expected from Timmy. She expects me to be aware of my surroundings and to be less klutzy--and if I'm going to fall in a well, it's going to be up to me figure out how to get myself back out.

So, I stripped off my paint covered clothes so I could leave the bathroom to get a bucket and sponge and I got to work cleaning up my mess. And when that was done, I got back on the ladder and finished the job. 

Thanks for making my thunder shelter prettier.

I'm happy to report the rest of the job was incident free and my bathroom is now a lovely shade of Dorian Gray. (Also, my mom is more sympathetic than my dog, so someone still let me get a good cry in over this.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Discovering Morgan Swamp Preserve

A few months ago, I stumbled across the website for The Nature Conservancy and read about some new trails in our county in the Morgan Swamp Preserve. It was shortly after the snow melted, so I figured a swamp would probably be extra muddy and I bookmarked the page and decided to save them for a drier time.

It's been hot and dry here most of the month and since the trail maps advertised trails through forests, it seemed like the perfect shady spot for a summer adventure. 

The adventure got off to a rocky start. We wanted to start with the Long Pond Trail because the website advertised it as a .25-mile walk to an observation deck and then a mile to and from the observation deck, so I thought we'd be able to get a good 2 miles in there before it got to hot. But this trail head only had GPS coordinates and my Google Maps app didn't seem receptive to those, so I got a general idea of where the road was and decided to wing it. 

We got near the area where the road should have been, but there were no street signs, so I kept going a little farther until I came upon a semi that was blocking the entire road with cones in front of it. We turned around chose a random road to take until we could find a good spot to pull over and search for the road on Google Maps. 

All of the sudden, I saw a barn quilt with a beaver design and I knew that was near the trail head--unfortunately, the entrance to the parking lot was overgrown and I didn't see the sign until it was too late. After finding a spot to turn around, we eventually got to the trail head and could start our adventure.

Barley was so excited to be on a new trail and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was very little mud to navigate around. 

The Nature Conservancy's website said that beavers and river otters were common sights along the trail, so we made sure to stop and look for them, but we saw no signs of either. 

There were a lot of vines and stumps and logs that gave us an opportunity to pose for pictures and take a little breather in the shade. (It was only 77 degrees, but Barley was not a happy camper.)

I was surprised to see that we'd only gone about .58 miles total by the time we got to the end of the trail. Apparently the calculations of the trail length were calculated based on the round trip on the trail, not one way like I'd originally assumed.

It's time for a water break!

Overall, I'd rate the Long Pond Trail as a C+. There were no trash cans (luckily Barley listened to her mother and went before she left the house, so no trash cans were needed). The trails was pretty short, so for the length of the drive to get there, it might not be worth it. But there was endless shade, which my Abominable Snow Pup really appreciates. There were also countless chipmunks rushing through the woods, so that was another plus in Barley's eyes.

Since we'd gotten less mileage than anticipated, we went off in search of the other trails at the Grand River Conservation Campus at Morgan Swamp Preserve.

This section of the preserve had several trails that could be pieced together for a longer walk, so we started on the Bliss Pond Trail where Barley got another chance to look for wildlife. We saw a frog hop into the pond, but that's as exciting as we got.

Then we veered off onto the Grand River Trail where we got some nice views of the Grand River, but a lot of the trail was pretty overgrown. I'm not a fan of walking through tall grass, but Barley was more than happy to blaze a trail--unfortunately, I got a face full of spider webs on more than one occasion. 

Eventually, we got to the Hemlock Swamp Trail that took us through a hemlock yellow birch forest. I've always loved seeing bark peeling off of trees in a scroll-like manner, so that was a big plus for this trail.

There was also plenty of shade for Barley to enjoy, but there weren't very many benches along this trail and it was harder to find good spots to take water breaks and take a breather for my pup. We saw a few benches early on, but they were surrounded by overgrown grass, so we skipped those in hopes of finding a good log to rest on or benches with clearer paths to them.

This section of the preserve also had some nice meadows. I enjoyed them more than Barley did since they were low on shady spots, but there were also lots of daisies growing along the trail and it's hard not to be happy when you see daisies. 

This section definitely earned a solid B as far as trails go. It was peaceful with a variety of landscapes to enjoy. If the trails were a little better maintained on the Grand River trail, we would have loved it even more.

As we were heading back to the car, we ran into a reporter from a local weekly paper. He asked if he could take our picture for the paper and asked a few questions about our visit. Of course, I hadn't showered since I expected some mud and bugs--and I was wearing a 15-year-old t-shirt that I'd happened to sleep in the night before, but Barley smiled like a pro. Here's hoping my students and colleagues skip this week's issue of the paper!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Congratulations, Cavs!

Almost 6 years ago, I left New Mexico, where I'd lived for three years, to start a new job in Northeast Ohio. My NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, had been letting me down for a while (not that I ever pay much attention to football) and there were no professional sports I followed in NM. I'd spent a little time watching LeBron and the Cavs--I had hopes that I was finally moving to a place where there might be a team that was fun to cheer for.

Then shortly after I unloaded my moving van, LeBron announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach and my hopes of having a good team to cheer for went out the window.

My brother and I still made sure to go to a Cavs game the first season I was here and we went to cheer the Cavs on in Atlanta last season, but I've spent very little time following the sport--mostly because for the last several years I haven't had television and then when I finally got it when I moved into my new house, I was too lazy to figure out what channel games came on. 

Since my tv is usually tuned to ABC anyway, it was easy to keep up with the Finals. I split my time between watching Pirates baseball games and watching the Cavs, so I didn't see every minute of every game--even tonight's, but after the Pirates gave up back-to-back home runs tonight, I decided that was my sign to abandon my post on the back porch and go cheer on the Cavs.

They did not disappoint. Shortly after the game, fireworks started going off in my neighborhood and it's clear that most of the region will be celebrating this week. It seems only fitting that the year I decided to officially make NE Ohio my home by buying a house is the same year that LeBron and the team brought home a win to Cleveland.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer-time Brain

Usually, it takes a while before I decide that my brain might need more of a routine than summer vacation gives me, but this year it seems to be setting in early.

Barley and I have a good summer routine. We sleep until I wake up naturally (or until I get tired of waking up and telling Soth to stop knocking things around because he's hangry). We eat breakfast. We walk. We read and nap and read and nap. We might eat lunch if we don't nap through it. Then we take an evening walk and settle in to watch the Pirates play ball (or a movie or Hulu if it's an off day).  Eventually, I'll start prepping for my fall classes when I start feeling my brain turn to mush, but May and June tend to be blissfully lazy and full of reading the things I don't get to read August-April. 

This summer, though, I'm starting to see signs of summer-time brain setting in earlier than usual. 

For the last few days, Barley and I have walked by a lint roller alongside the sidewalk. At first, I just made note of it and thought it was a strange thing to see alongside the sidewalk, but didn't give it much thought.

My lint rollers ended up somewhere unidentifiable when I moved (as one of the last items to be packed, they fell victim to being thrown into any old box or bag that had room). Lint rollers are never things I remember to buy, so they're alway things that are bought on a whim--I might happen to notice them at the end of an aisle I'm walking by in Target and toss several in the cart, so I either have no lint rollers or a billion and there's no middle ground. I keep one in my desk drawer at work and a travel one in my car, so unearthing the ones for the house wasn't a priority and then it was summer and there's no point in lint rolling when you spend all day doing dog activities.

Then one day, I woke up from an afternoon read-nap-read-nap session and I was covered in fuzzes from a blanket I'd just washed. I was too lazy to go out to the car to get the travel-sized lint roller, so I changed shirts instead so that we could take our second walk (dog hair is an acceptable summer walking accessory--blanket fuzz is not). 

As Barley and I walked by the lint roller again, I started thinking to myself, "If I just peeled off the top sheet, it would probably be perfectly fine." Y'all. For a minute, I seriously considered picking up a SIDEWALK LINT ROLLER. I'm a huge germaphobe and hypochondriac and I WAS GOING TO TAKE A SIDEWALK LINT ROLLER HOME! 

At that point, it became clear that I have hit rock bottom early this summer. I'll be heading to the office to pick up the textbooks I need to start planning for the fall as soon as possible.

And until I remember to buy more lint rollers, blanket fuzz (and cat hair) are also acceptable accessories.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Coward

It's no secret that Barley acts big and bad most of the time. In class, she used to be the bully that liked to ensure that she was in charge--and I'm sure if I hadn't gotten better at reading her, she'd still take the opportunity to send her classmates that message. She shows no fear when we go to new trails and is ready to conquer the world.

But there are moments when Barley's bravery fails. Once, she was prancing alongside me on a trail and several swallows swooped down across our path and Barley flattened herself on the ground--and I won't even get started on how she reacts actual birds of prey. Kites are equally bad--we have to avoid trails that go by open fields on extra windy days because she'll put on the brakes.

Then there are thunder storms. We've tried the Thundershirt--I put it on Barley on a perfect sunny day without a storm in sight to see how it fit and she refused to move and wouldn't take treats. It was promptly returned. We've tried a couple samples of herbal supplements with no success. Anxiety medicine takes time to work and here storms often come up unexpectedly. So I let my poor dog be a coward and comfort her as much as possible.

I heard thunder. I will not touch that popcorn even though it's my favorite snack.

Most recently, Barley exhibited her cowardliness in an interaction with her brother cat. I went to the basement to start a load of laundry. Barley doesn't love the basement, but she'll usually come down with me. This time, I made it down before she got off the couch and started putting clothes in the washer. All of the sudden, I heard a panicked bark from upstairs. I called her and only got another bark in return, so I went to check on her. Soth was sitting at the top of the stairs, and every time Barley would try to come down them, he'd swat her and she'd cower.

Yeah. This guy is really intimidating.

Yet, somehow she feels brave enough to want to take on the two rotties on the other side of the fence that are bigger than she is. Sigh.

Does she contradict herself? Very well then, she contradicts herself. She is large, she contains multitudes. (Bonus points to anyone who knows what that's a reference to.) For more of Barley's complex identity, check out all of our other posts here.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Back to Basics

Barley has endeared herself to most of the human neighbors in our new neighborhood. She's also done a fantastic job of dealing with the many, many dogs we see on our walks. (It's a good thing my GPS watch doesn't talk or it would probably ask if I'm drunk since we crisscross the street so many times!) 

Our new fence has created a need for us to return to the basics, though. Three sides of our fence are 6-foot tall vinyl panels, so Barley can't see out and other dogs can't see in. This was a very strategic decision--I knew that if Barley saw the little dog a couple houses down staring at her from behind its chain link fence, she'd lose all focus on whatever we were doing in the yard (relaxing, agility training, fetch) and she might even consider jumping the fence to get to it--and once she knew she could jump her fence, there'd be nothing to keep her from jumping its fence. I've never been particularly graceful, so a future that might involve jumping over 4-foot chain link fences to grab my dog wasn't all that appealing to me. A solid fence seemed to make the most sense for Barley's needs.

The fourth side of the fence, though, belongs to our other neighbors who have two very large (and very sweet) rottweilers. The girls have been very friendly with me when I've met them without Barley, but when Barley and I go out, it sounds like we live next to Jurassic Park (which my sister pointed out for us)--there's grunting, snuffling, snorting, and a variety of other prehistoric sounds mixed in with the occasional bark. The fence is a shadowbox fence, so they can see each other from certain angles, but not well. The fence is also several inches off the ground (according to the fence company, some people think it's easier to use a weedeater that way, but they assure me that's not true), so until I figure out how to block that off on our side, there's room for a pointy Barley nose to fit under the fence.

On leash or tethered to a tree, Barley paid very little attention to them. I could furminate her (which always requires frequent treating anyway) or give her a Kong filled with goodies and we could spend plenty of time in the yard. When I'd take her out for potty breaks, she might glance their way, but a quick "leave it" would be all she needed.

Someone's barking? I didn't notice.

But I was fairly certain off-leash would be a bigger issue. After all, she can walk perfectly beside her cousin on leash, but the second the leash comes off, she wants to eat him.

I made sure that Barley's first fence experience was positive by waiting until the dogs next-door went inside before letting her out to explore.

Barley has a fence!! #dogs #bordercollie #fetch

A video posted by Beth (@eedevore) on

Later that day, the dogs came out while we were in the yard and as soon as they barked, Barley was locked in on their side of the fence and snapping at them. She was uninterested in me or treats, so we had to go back inside so I could come up with our plan for training through this.

We'll be going back to the basics of her reactive dog training when the neighbors are out. There will be plenty of work done on-leash to reestablish that I'm still in charge even if there are dino-dogs on the other side of the fence. Most of this will be different versions of the "it's your choice" game--so expect to see lots of pictures of Barley in the yard on a leash with treats on her paws in the near future. (We also have to do this for agility anyway since she's been choosing to ignore me and go where she wants more and more lately, so going back to basics will have lots of benefits.) We'll be revisiting our relaxation protocol and mat work in the yard to help remind her that it's ok to relax in the yard--even if you think a t-rex is about to crash through the fence. We'll also be working on different heeling patterns, especially ones that take us near that side of the fence and reinforce the decision to turn away from it.

We'll start all of this on her 6-foot leash that was use for all of our walks, but eventually as she becomes more confident and consistent in the behaviors we need, we'll move to her 10-foot long lead to get a little more distance work in. Some day, hopefully, we'll be able to work up to doing all of this off-leash in the yard.

Until then, we'll be checking out the window before opening the back door and then taking advantage of every opportunity we have with no dino-dogs outside to romp and play and enjoy our newly fenced yard.

Hey look! No Leash!

We're linking up with Cascadian Nomads, Tenacious Little Terrier, and Rubicon Days for the Positive Pet Training blog hop that starts the first Monday of each month and runs all week. For some reason, the code isn't cooperating tonight, be sure to check out all of the other great blogs participating by visiting the hosts' pages (and I'll keep trying to get it to work here!) to see what other training goals everyone's working on!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Extrovert

We've covered some of my favorite parts of Barley's identity over the last few weeks, but today's element of Barley's Barleyness is probably the one that pushes me the farthest out of my comfort zone.

When I was 11, my dad was transferred to a new plant and we had to move. My parents started looking at houses and after one house hunting trip, my mom asked if I would prefer to live in a house next to a field with horses or a neighborhood with a lot of kids to play with. Without giving it any thought, I said the horses--we got the neighborhood with the kids. When given the choice, I will always choose hanging out with animals over other people. I'm a total introvert, but Barley is definitely an extrovert--she gets her energy from being noticed and being around people while those situations make me want to hide in my house for a few days. Even after socializing with people whose company I enjoy, I still need a nice long nap. 

A person who isn't my mama wants to take my picture? I'm so excited I can hardly sit still.

My whole life, though, my closest friends have been extreme extroverts. I made my first (human) friend when she ran up to me at storytime at the library and screamed, "Hi Beth!" (or at least that's what my mom says--I have no recollection of this interaction) and she was my best friend until I moved away. In middle school, my closest friend was an outgoing cheerleader. In college (and still today), my best friend became the face of our college--he was on all of the publications sent to prospective students, he gave tours of campus, he knew almost every professor on campus as well as every member of the cleaning staff, admissions staff, and student life staff. All of these friends are/were great conversationalists and I could tag along, occasionally participate in conversation, and then spend the rest of the time doing what I enjoy most, watching other people.

With Barley, though, she clearly can't talk and carry on the conversations while I sit back and observe. Without Barley, I'm pretty sure I would yet to have met any of my new neighbors. (I'm torn on whether that would bother me or not.) Usually, if I see a neighbor outside, I'll wait a few minutes to take out the trash or to start mowing the lawn to avoid having to make small talk.

But Barley has ensured that I have met the neighbors in the four closest houses on our side of the street. Usually these introductions have gone something like this: Barley and I are out for a walk. A neighbor starts walking down the driveway. It will be obvious I'm avoiding them if we turn around, so we keep going and I hope we can escape with just a quick "Hi, how are you?" Barley smiles at the neighbor(s) and wags and wiggles. They ask, "What kind of dog is that?" Before I know it, I've learned their names (which I quickly text to my mom because for some reason I forget people's names seconds after walking away even though I can remember their dogs' names no problem) and a little bit about them. Barley continues to wag and wiggle--as best she can without breaking the sit I require when we stop walking--until she's pet and I answer a few questions about her and then the neighbor says, "Well, we won't keep you from your walk any longer." It hasn't been too painful.

When Barley's at my side, it's a lot easier to meet new people because we can skip the awkward small talk as they keep asking questions about Bar. Now, if Barley could just develop the ability to talk, I could go back to observing while she did the hard work. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Still Like You

When Barley and I graduated from private lessons for her reactivity to being in multi-dog classes, I told our reactive dog trainer that I'd always loved Barley, but she'd helped me learn to like Barley. That was several years ago and my like for Barley didn't waiver (except for maybe a few brief moments of frustration involving the trash can and cat food). 

Then on May 13 that changed. For the first time in over four years, I didn't like my dog very much. The day had started out well with a nice walk followed by a lawn mowing sessions. My campus was holding our graduation that night, so after I'd showered, I had about an hour before I had to throw on a dress and meet my friends for our traditional pre-graduation dinner. It was cool out, so I thought Barley and I could get a little fetch session before I prettified myself.

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that since our yard isn't fenced, Barley and I use a 50-foot cotton long line for our play sessions. It's the perfect length for the distance I can toss a ball or toy because Barley is able to chase it down without getting all the way to the end of the line and choking herself or ripping my arm off. For two months, we used the long line and we'd only had a few problems--such as the dog two yards down coming out and Barley redirecting from the toy to the dog and the long line hit me behind the knees and knocked me down. But Barley turned around as soon as she realized I was down and I started checking before each throw to make sure that dog wasn't outside and we were fine.
We'd had dozens of play sessions without incident.

But on this day, things changed. I'd just gathered up most of the long line so we could head back inside for me to get ready when the dog came outside. Instead of listening to me say "What's that?" Barley took off and pulled the leash through my hand--and since I'd just gathered the leash, almost all 50-feet of it shredded my hand. My left ring finger and pinky got the worst of it--with most of the skin disappearing--but my thumb and index finger were also blistered. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced and I got lucky. 

I did my best to clean the blue leash fuzz out of my fingers (although a week later I was still occasionally finding some), bandaged the two worst fingers, and did my best to keep my hand on ice while also trying to do my hair and get a dress zipped. I knew Barley didn't mean to hurt me, but I was so upset with her that evening. She knew it and slept under the bed even though it wasn't hot and there weren't thunderstorms. We went to my parents' house the next weekend and a few days later I took a quick vacation with my friends and that was the time we needed to get back to our normal relationship.

15 days after the incident. It was too gross for picture before that.

It's been over three weeks now, and my hand still isn't completely healed. To make things worse, my ring finger is in that itchy phase of healing so I'm constantly having to stop what I'm doing to slather lotion on it for some temporary relief. My ring finger was the worst and it still occasionally cracks if it gets too dry or I move it in the wrong way and the tender new skin on my pinky is still extra sensitive to heat, which makes me sad when I want to snuggle up with a cup of coffee and forget about that. But for the most part, my hand is back to normal with minimal pain and I can almost pretend it never happened.

I decided immediately, though, that there would be no more outdoor play sessions for Barley until we got a fence. I couldn't trust her to not do something like this again and I was very aware that things could have been significantly worse. I figured this would take at least a year because fences are expensive and I needed to rebuild my savings after all of the moving expenses of the last couple months. 

As bummed as I was about that, I knew Barley wouldn't suffer in the long run. She rarely got play time like that when we lived in the apartment and she still had agility class and 3+ miles of walks a day to keep her active, so her life would still be fun.

After seeing my hand, my parents graciously offered to set up a loan for a fence for Barley (they kind of love their grandpuppy) and we typed up some terms of repayment. When we got home from our travels, I set up estimate appointments to look at our options. I assumed it would be months before anyone could get to our job, but the local fence company said, "Right now, we're looking at 3 weeks before we could come out, but I know how much better it will be for your dog to have a fence sooner, so we'll see if we can rearrange some jobs." I was sold. They called two days later and said they could come this week--less than a week after coming out to do the estimate. 

None of these options look like they'll make it easier for me to eat the neighbors.

I've cleared out all of the brush at the back of the yard (after my millionth trip to Lowe's--this time to buy a lopper) and the yard is set for the fence installation to start today! 

The project will likely be completed Wednesday, so we should only have one more night of Barley having to be tied up to a tree in the yard for our evenings of sitting outside listening to the Pirates games. 

So my Barley girl, I still like you, I've always loved you, and I can't wait to spend the rest of summer vacation enjoying our backyard together.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Wily

Recently, I've been highlighting some of my favorite parts of Barley's identity. We've covered the instigator, the athlete, and the goober. Today, we're focusing on one of the most trying elements of Barley's Barleyness. (For the record, the English professor in me is cringing over the lack of parallelism this introduces into the series since wily isn't a noun like the others--but I've thought on this for WEEKS and couldn't find the right word.)

For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law got me (and Bar) the Dognition assessment. If you haven't heard of Dognition, it's all about the science of understanding what makes your dog tick. There are 9 different profiles ranging from protodogs to socialites to stargazers. To complete the assessment, you complete a series of different games in 5 different categories: empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning and record the results of each game in your profile online and when you've finished all of the different categories, your results are analyzed and you get a detailed report explaining what the games reveal about your dog. You can get different types of subscriptions after completing the assessment that unlock more information, such as a new game each month. I'd been planning to do a few months of that in the winter when it was too cold for our normal walking routine, but then it didn't get that cold (thank you, Mother Nature!), so I just kept putting off the subscription and posting about Dognition. Maybe the subscription will happen when it gets too hot for our normal routine, but without further ado, here's some of what we discovered thanks to Dognition.

Playing a game where we had to track which "cup" she went to first."

I won't go into Barley's whole profile now, but as I completed the cunning category of the assessment and read the results, I found myself going, "Yes. Yup. Uh huh. Right. Exactly" and those results tie into today's post perfectly.

Way past trustworthy!

In agility class, our trainer has often commented on Barley's lack of contrition when she does things like nip at my hands. She says Barley sees everything as a game. I've lamented Barley's lack of contrition when it comes to eating cat food (even when that means climbing on the counter to do it). In the first paragraph of Barley's Dognition report, I read, "As soon as you aren't paying attention, whatever Barley has been lusting after mysteriously disappears. You might wonder whether Barley is incapable of learning a tiny world like 'No!'"

Throughout the cunning games, we did various tasks where we timed how long it took the Barley to take a treat when I was watching, when my eyes were covered, and when my back was turned. Her report states, "Barley is the perfect example of a dog using cognitive strategies effectively. She knew she should wait when you were watching and that it was safe to swoop in and take the treat when you had your back turned or your eyes covered." I guess this explains why Barley always goes to get the cat food the second I sit down on the toilet--even if she appears to be sound asleep when I head to the bathroom!

The report also revealed that Barley is wilier than a lemur: "The fact that Barley didn't wait as long to take the treat when your eyes were covered is impressive, since you looked almost exactly the same as when you were watching Barley--the only difference was that you had your hands over your eyes. Many animals can tell the difference between your front and back, but even some primates (like lemurs) have difficulty detecting the subtle meaning of covering your eyes. Barley's performance shows a sophisticated mind at work." This is why it's especially important for me to keep my eyes on Barley when I lead out in agility class. Some of our classmates lead out without maintaining eye contact with their dogs or lead out and then scan the course to make sure they have it--sometimes their dogs get a little stressed while they wait for their handlers to look back at them, but they usually stay where they are. When I break contact with Barley, she gets up and wanders over to something more interesting than the obstacle she's sitting in front of (and since that's usually a classmate, we want to avoid that even more than most people do).

So connected with me between turns that she doesn't even know her picture's being taken.
The report combines the results of each of the categories and concluded that based on some of Barley's other results, she knows how to read me perfectly, but "she is just selective of when and where she uses that information." 

Barley's wiliness is one of the things I love most about her. She is smart. So very smart. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it--even if it means lying in wait until just the right moment. But Barley's wiliness is also our biggest obstacle. This is the exact reason she's managed to poison herself on multiple occasions when I've turned my back for barely a second. It's the reason that our treat pouch occasionally gets emptied when I kneel down to tie my shoe on a walk and a nose ends up in the pouch before I know what's happening. It's something that makes some behaviors (not eating cat food--even when it's up high, staying out of the trash can) next to impossible to train. Barley is determined and very little will get in her way of getting it.

Fun Fact: As I typed this post, Barley went in the kitchen, put her paws on the stove, and used her paws and nose to pull the pan that was waiting to be washed from cooking steak to the front of the stove, and stole the spatula that had some good steak bits on it. All before I could set the computer down and fly into the kitchen after her. She makes me tired.

We may revisit our Dognition results later in this series, but this was the section that rang most true for us! Stay tuned later this week for an update on our latest home-owning adventure!