Friday, March 26, 2010

Concrete and Harmonicas

Ok, since we've had Gracie Lou/Rachel/Little Gypsy Dog/New Lu/Add Your Own Name for Her, she has been an absolute joy.  Except for two things.  

The first issue is that she absolutely REFUSES to go to the bathroom on the grass in our backyard.  I do not know why. It's not as if it were filled with booby traps or anything.
There's plenty of room and plenty of leftover smells from her predecessor, My Lucy, to let her know that it's OK to do her business on the grass.  But nope, she avoids that grass like the plague.  I've even picked her up and carried her to the grass and gently put her down and you'd have thought it was burning, molten lava the way she hightailed it back to the patio.  Where she promptly piddled.  Of course.

For some reason, probably because she was a shelter dog, she insists on doing her bathroom business on the patio
which drives TheManTheMyth INSANE.  TheManTheMyth takes his concrete VERY serious, seeing as he IS a concrete specialist, and the fact that his little dog, who he just adores even if he can't admit it out loud. Yet, is peeing and pooping on his stamped and stained handiwork is giving him a facial tic.  And if I don't wash it down immediately, the pee etches a stain into the stained concrete because this little dog has some seriously strong pee.  I'm all "Dude, what's with your pee?  Do you need to drink more water or something?" and Little Dog looks at me and hears, "Blah blah Wah Wah Blah Blah."

Anyway, I don't know much what we can do about her preference for staining the stained concrete.  I know what you're saying, "Better she pee on the patio than in the house."  Um.  Yeah.  With the exception of today, Gracie has gone to the bathroom in the house every. single. morning. this week.  Twice in my office, right in front of the dog door, once on the kitchen floor and once in the doorway to the kitchen although that time she dropped a deuce instead of a puddle.  

Gracie's other issue is other dogs.  When we go for our walk in the morning, it's at the park where many other people have the same idea I do, which is to take their dog for a walk in the park.  We've had to take so many detours because whenever Rachel saw another dog, she would go ballistic, barking, lunging on her leash, growling.  It's been a pain in the butt.  She also would refuse to "walk nice" and would stop to sniff something every 5 feet and then she'd race full speed until her 16 foot retractable leash ran out and then she'd practically do a neck-snapping backflip because the leash ran out.  Between her mad sprints and my constant scanning of the horizon for people with enemy dogs, our walks in the park haven't been the most joyous and fun occasions.

Until I discovered the perfect training device.

I discovered this wonderful Training Device quite by accident.  It was just laying around the house and Thing 1 picked it up and used it and New Lu's reaction was instant and I said to myself, "Self, I bet if I take that Training Device to the park and use it when she gets all freaked out about other dogs and/or doesn't behave, she'll immediately stop her bad behavior!"  So yesterday, I took the Training Device with us to the park and right off the bat, we see another dog.  Sure enough, Gracie started the barking and lunging and I used the Training Device and she immediately stopped and sat down.  No, scratch that.  She stopped and LAY down.  I told her "Good Dog!" and we proceeded on our way.  She didn't pull on her leash or sprint ahead or anything.  In fact, she trotted along, looking at me for reassurance the rest of our 2 mile walk.  When we got back to the car, she spotted another dog and instead of her usual shenanigans, she looked to me for guidance and we continued peacefully to the car.

Fast forward to this morning.  For the first time this week, she did not have an accident in the house.  Yay!  But wait!  It gets even better!  We're at the park and I see a lady and her dog jogging toward us.  As they get close, the lady looks at Gracie Lou and says, "Australian Shepherd?" and I look at her dog and say, "Belgian Shepherd?" and we both congratulate ourselves for winning "What's The Breed?" and Gracie DOES NOT BARK!  In fact, she and the other dog sniffed each other and wagged tails and I was so darn proud of my little girl!

A few minutes later, here comes a couple with a yellow Lab.  And Gracie sniffed and wagged tails and was all nice and calm.  I kept telling her what a good girl she was and gave her a training treat.  I think we've turned a page in her behavior issues and our walks will now be fun and productive instead of a struggle with a bunch of detours.

Ok, you want to know what this Fabulous Training Device is, don't you. This is not a joke, this really is it.  I'm serious.  Hand to God.  Are you ready for it?
Yes, that's right.  It's a harmonica.  A harmonica is the Training Device.  When she starts to react badly to another dog or she's doing something she shouldn't, like digging at gopher holes or trying to chase squirrels or jumping on the joggers, all I have to do is blow a note on the harmonica and she stops and drops.  I don't even have to do it loud; just a soft note is all it takes.  By the end of our walk, I don't even have to do that.  I just click my ring against the metal and that does the trick.

A harmonica.  Who knew?

Now, if I could just get her to potty on the grass.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's your name, little girl, what's your name?

Ok, so almost 3 weeks ago we adopted our new dog
The shelter had given her the name "Rosie" because of her rosy nose and personality.  She is a happy little dog who loves her new home and family.  But one of the first things we did was come up with a new name for her because "Rosie" just didn't cut it.  And since I'm all about naming my pets human names, names like Lady, Misty, Dusty weren't even considered.  And no Mollys or Maggies either thankyouverymuch.  Thing 1 suggested "Janis" after Janis Joplin, which was vetoed, Thing 2 suggested "Sadie" but that didn't fit either.  Then Thing 1 suggested "Grace" after Grace Slick and can you tell that my 17 year old son likes 70's rock and I said howzabout "Gracie" and Gracie she became.  Then she became Gracie Lou after Sandra Bullock's character "Gracie Lou Freebush" in "Miss Congeniality."  

But just like those pedigreed AKC dogs that have fancy names like "Anthem's Showboat Roaring Eagle" but are called "Bubba" instead, nobody in the family really uses our pets given names and Gracie Lou is no exception.  For some reason, TheManTheMyth has started calling her "Rachel" which is the name of my sister Jamie's dog.  Thing 1 calls her "Little Gypsy Dog" or just plain "Little Dog" and danged if I don't find myself calling her that as well.  And Thing 1's crony Wyatt calls her "New Lu."

Oddly enough, she seems to respond to all her names and sometimes none of her names. But if I need her to come to me, the most effective way is not calling her by any of her names and alias.  Oh no, if I need her to come, all I have to do is jingle my car keys and she is at my side in the blink of an eye.  Maybe I should have named her "Jingles" or "Car Keys."  Of course if we had named her "Jingles" or "Car Keys" we still would have called her something completely different.

Here's a picture of Rachel:
New Lu:
Little Gypsy Dog:
 I sure hope she doesn't end up with an identity crisis.