Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eating the Fish

When I adopted Faith, Sheena told me that she likes to watch television. That doesn't quite capture it. Picture Faith, her nose pressed to the flat screen in total concentration. That wonderful head blocking your view of the show in question. Picture her at some point leaving scratches on the surface of your 42" LCD TV. Thankfully, scratches that are not visible from any reasonable viewing distance.

Yes, Faith watches TV. She is particularly captivated by dogs on TV, but intrigued by anything that moves like an animal. It doesn't stop there. She is fascinated by any reflective surface, and particularly loves to stare down my iPad and/or my Xoom tablet (I'm a software developer - gear is one of the curses of the profession). Or my phone. Or anything else with a screen. It's good for hours of entertainment.

The other night I stuck the Xoom on the charger, and left it display out leaning against the wall. I had downloaded an active wallpaper that shows an aquarium as the background screen on the homepage or the charging display. Touch the screen over a fish and the fish tries to swim away. I go to brush my teeth, and return to find Faith snapping at the display, trying to catch the fish. Thank doG for Corning's "Gorilla Glass". Maybe I should invest.

Hoping to avert damage, I turned the tablet to face the wall. Nope. Those pesky fish are in there somewhere. I'm lying on the bed reading a paper or browsing the web. Those fish must still be in there. Shut the tablet down and close the case. Faith is convinced the damned fish are in there. She's entirely happy to spend 45 minutes staring down the (shut down) tablet in its case, waiting for the fish (or so I infer). Drooling on the case all the while. I try to read. She shifts to lean over my shoulder and drool on the display. I push her head away and sign "no". She backs off. For all of five seconds. Then she ever so deftly noses under my arm to get her snout up against the display again. Bother my person. There are FISH in that box. TASTY fish.

But there is more. Most dogs bark out the window at things happening on the street. They hear a truck or a dog, rush to the window, and assert their turf by barking at the offender on "their" street. Not Faith. Oh no. First, she can't hear the truck coming. Second, she's far too comfortable to bother with rushing to the window to see what's out there. Thankfully, she doesn't need to. Faith has deduced that a vehicle at night with lights on causes all sorts of moving shadows to go across the ceiling, that the presence of the car/truck can be inferred from the shadows, and that she need not leave the comfort of the bed before barking. The devilish details of confirming the presence of car or truck should be left to minions - such as Trevor. In fact, she's often barking at the car before Trevor confirms matters by looking out the window and joins in.

God I love her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Confinement is over

Faith and Trevor came out of "confinement" on 4 April, and it seems like that ought to warrant an entry. And it does, except that it's been raining non-stop since then, and every time we've gone out, the other dogs in the neighborhood have been in-doors. So I'm left with no photos and a quick update. Which seems like a pretty lame excuse, but there it is. Lacking llamas or ducks to ship out, we're pretty boring around here.

Sheena (Food Lady) observed that Border Collies somehow contrive to end up in charge. It's true. Right about the time Faith crossed the 30 day mark, she (a) started verbalizing, and (b) decided she was part of the pack and should establish herself. It's like she flipped a switch, decided this was home, and that she ought to do something about it. Which is terrific, but sometimes amusing.

Up to this point, Trevor would try to hump Faith, and she would sit, and that was that. Nothing overtly assertive, but a clear sense of "yeah, try to hump that big boy!" But suddenly Faith has developed teeth. Nothing inappropriate, but a readiness to snap in Trevor's direction when he crosses the line. In the past, the "established" dog in my house has come out ahead. In this case, I'm watching a 32lb newcomer sort out a position that is likely to dominate the 60+lb incumbent. And it's all good, and it's all normal, but it is still a new variation on things I have seen before. Food Lady warned that Faith doesn't know how to back down once she decides to engage. Neither does Trevor, but each seems to respect the other.

And it's interesting to watch, because the line is moving. At first, it was "you're encroaching on my space, back off." And then it was "hey, don't lean on me like that." And then it was "hey, he's our little boy, and you're playing too rough." As Faith becomes more confident, she is progressively more willing to define the line for Trevor, and to assert her right to equal time and equal attention. In parallel with this, she has transitioned from "cuddle all night" to "cuddle until I'm done and then define my own space to sleep" on the bed. Meanwhile, Faith has worked out that curling up on my son's bed helps him sleep, and has taken this on as (part of) her job. She and Snickers (the cat) also seem to have come to a working truce of mutual non-acknowledgement.:-) And in the meantime, Faith and Trevor chase each other around the pool table and do their share of licking each other, all of which is part of proto-pack bonding.

My son has developed the habit of asking if he can walk Faith. Which (considering he's six) is great from several angles, not least of which is that Faith doesn't pull. Somebody went to real effort to "civilize" her, and I wish I could convince myself that the methods were humane. In this I think I share some of Sheena's (Food Lady's) nascent misgivings. But he loves the illusion that he is walking her, and she goes along. I feel a bit guilty, because you get what you put in, and I haven't invested sufficiently in Trevor. But for all that, Trevor isn't Faith, and it's fun to watch the relationship between Faith and my son evolve.

Life proceeds, and next time I'll have pictures.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Days!

Ohai! Faith here. Dad agreed to translate without editing.

So I've been sniffing for messages (and leaving my own) around here for 30 days now, and I thought I would give some impressions of my first month. There are many dogs hereabouts, and many plants at the perfect level for leaving messages, if you know what I mean. My bladder runneth over.

One of the families on our block doesn't have a dog! When I heard that, it seemed very strange, and I wondered why and how those people were broken, and how sad that must be for them! I mean, what's the point of a family unit of homo erectus without a canus lupus familiaris to herd them together and steer them out of trouble?? Why, it's kind of like living on a farm that used to have llamas! Who keeps them organized, for doG's sake?

Then I learned that those humans were getting older, and that they used to have dogs, but decided that maybe they couldn't take good care of them anymore. I felt a lot better, 'cause (a) that seemed unusually responsible for a human, (b) the habits of a lifetime informed by constructive herding will last them the rest of their lives, and (c) it just made this place seem downright civilized. Imagine a place where the house without dogs seemed, well, kind of like they were missing something important. What an amazing place that would be. And I get to live there!

My Person and my Little Person picked me up at Casa de Food Lady 30 days ago now. In Canada, they don't do routine Rabies vaccinations, so I had to stay "confined" for 30 days. My Person arranged that Trevor and I would cross the border and enter confinement together, so I had some company in isolation (Kthnx). Considering as how he's kind of an excessively horny, domineering, younger brother who is twice my size, Trevor is OK. A bit slow, but he's learning his limits rather nicely. I get the bed, cuddling with my Person. He curls up underneath it. Maybe the Spaniel in him dilutes the ideal of the breed, or maybe he just prefers a really hard mattress. Hard to tell.

I really like my Little Person, and he likes me. I often go to sleep with him. We lie on his bed cuddling. I reluctantly offer my tummy to satisfy his compulsive scritchling reflex. Eventually he gets tired and curls up in a puppy-ish ball. After that, I curl up in my own ball at the foot of the bed and fall asleep until my Person is ready for bed.

Still, confinement has been kinda lonely. For example...

There's this Shepard who walks up our street every morning at 8:20 named Boomer, but I couldn't meet her. Then there is this Poodle named Lucy, and this Golden Retriever named Diego. They show up at my Little Person's bus stop every morning. Because of confinement, Trevor and I have had to stare at them longingly through the window of the car for a month! Trevor says quite enthusiastically that Lucy is very humpable, but Diego is the shy handsome type. I think Diego might be a virgin. But he's cool. He's the guy you want with you to hold your paw when you go for your emergency unexpected pregnancy test. You know he's a total gentlemen, and you kinda wish he weren't quite so good at it, 'cause he'd make a really great dad...

The one I really don't get is Lucy. I mean, Trevor tries to hump me, and I sit, and that's pretty much the end of it. He'll get what he wants when I get what I want. Which will be some time after I decide what I want. Which may very well be never. I color my fur because I'm worth it. Poor Lucy doesn't seem get that, and maybe I should have a bitch-to-bitch talk with her. She should at least demand flowers and a nice bottle of wine first! But hey, she's just approaching one year old, so she's entering those "exploratory" years when life seems unlimited and more mature heads are left to watch and worry (and cheer to ourselves in quietly longing envy).

Then there is Clover, another Golden Retriever, who is often outside when we go for a walk. I have wanted to meet Clover for a month now, but my Person didn't think that a $100,000 fine for Rabies I didn't have was worth the risk. Bah. My person needs to learn to be in the moment! Anyway, Clover is stuck behind an electric fence. She is used to playing with Trevor when he walks, and has been very confused that Trevor would not play with her for the last month. Today it rained terribly, but tomorrow I'm pretty sure I will get to go say hai to her. Clover's flirtatious hints seem much more Trevor's speed than Lucy's "come and get me" approach. :-) I mean, it's all about values, really. Hey, but he's a guy, and I don't claim any insights into alien species...

Yesterday, to celebrate the end of my confinement, my Person took me to the Redmond Town Center mall, where I got to play with various Very Little People. I met a <2 year old who wasn't sure he wanted to pet me, but his <1yr old brother had no hesitations. I met a ~9 month old who gave a Big Grin to see me, and when allowed to crawl promptly set forth in my direction to say hai, and then enjoyed getting his paws licked. I tried to say hai to Marcus (yet another Golden) at the jewelery store, but he had already gone home. Probably best, as it turned out. The Cad!

Running around
If I get to snuggle with my Person every night, some parts of my life here are not ideal. It has been only 30 days, and already my Little Person has been unfaithful. In fact, he is running around with another dog. In public! And I didn't even get to join in! I mean, sure, Marcus is definitely cute, and he's likeable, and he plays a good game of hide-and-seek, and he has cool toys, but for doG's sake he's just a Golden Retriever. I mean how embarrassing is that! Here I am, a Border Collie, upstaged by a darned Golden Retriever. A big, goofy, friendly Golden Retriever at that. What would he even do with a sheep? On second thought, don't answer that. The mind shudders to think.

Exchanging favors
And to make matters worse, my little person has been accepting his favors! I mean, how treacherous! Men are no damned good. Women are no better. Bryn Mawr women share the best properties of both species, but I digress...

Still, I got my own back. On my non-confinement day I stayed outside REI and made dichromatism-eyes at absolutely everyone while my Person looked for shoes. When he came out, there was a line of people waiting to meet me. Living well is sometimes the best revenge. Golden Retriever indeed! Pfah! What's the point of fur that is all one color, I ask you?

Meanwhile, I think I have found a job. I am going to be a politician. I love kissing babies, I think I could learn to steal their lollipops, and both candidates could really use some nose-to-the-ground support.

Today, I decided that my "test the waters" period was decently over, and I started to talk. A lot. I talked about how I wanted to go out, how I didn't approve of certain television shows, how the feng shui of my bowl was all wrong, how I deserved to be treated when being released from my crate, and a number of other Important Issues. My Person and his spouse were somewhat surprised. It seems that Food Lady neglected to mention that I'm Very Vocal! And since I've been keeping mum for the last month, boy was my Person surprised! Being as how I cannot hear, I tend to maintain a pretty even keel when my pack-mate gets all worked up. Trevor is pretty smart for a Border/Spaniel mix, but he's quite excitable. Me, I talk when there is actually someting worthwhile to say, and then I make my opinion Clearly Known.

Oh. And this week I completely ignored the WILF (Whining Little Feline, a.k.a. Snickers). He seemed to like that. At one point he actually lay on the couch with me. No accounting for cats, I suppose.

Well, this has run long, and I've just been busted. It seems that while my Person was translating, I have been staring intently at yet another LCD screen. My person is considering enrolling me in a twelve-step program but that's a story for another day.

XOXO  Faith