I’m Good With the First Part…But After That I Dunno

I hear this phrase frequently:  “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”  It seems to be the ‘feel-good’ phrase of this century, and that’s okay.  I’m a Christian woman and I happen to believe that God loves me; the second part of the sentence is what often troubles me.

The past few weeks have been chocked full of minor calamities and ridiculous situations and, of course, I am in the midst of each and every one.  I’ve walked into walls (seriously), dropped things everywhere, tried my best to do a good deed for someone and drove in the completely opposite direction of my destination.  I start one project, rapidly move on to something else, and 3 hours later I have a house full of half-done chores.  I go to the grocery where they know me by name and I’m greeted with…”Hi Linda, back again today…forget something?”  Do you see the trend here?

Yes, God loves me.  But I have a sneaking suspicion I am one of his main sources of entertainment.  Perhaps it is a test.  Will Linda lose her mind today?  Will the package of strawberries with mold on the bottom that she doesn’t notice until she gets home send her over the edge? Is today the day Linda wears her shirt inside out again in public?

Okay – God loves me. I’m good with that. But, ya know…there’s a hitch.  Ya see, He sent me EmmaLou.  Now I don’t mean to be sacrilegeous here – really.  But I’m beginning to think that EmmaLou is my cross to bear.  Ya’ll know she can be angelic and then….

So I’m sitting in my craft   crap   hoarder haven   home office  frittering away on Twitter the other morning when I see through my amazingly accurate depth perception EmmaLou….slinking out of the room and on her way down the stairs.  Suddenly life went in slow motion.  She turned her head toward me, her long golden fur whipping around her, and there for me to notice clutched in her slobbering mouth was my Smart Phone.

What did I do?  Did I jump up yelling and screaming at my fur-child and race like a mad woman down the stairs after her?  No.  I sat here and Twittered:  o.my.gawd. EmmaLou just left with my smart phone in her mouth.  She is in possession of a piece of technology that is so expensive I have 20 more payments on it, and I SIT HERE ON TWITTER.  Gah…. “God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world.”  No – he’s in his recliner laughing like crazy.

God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.  God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.  I keep chanting that in my head.  I put down my laptop finally as I realize that EmmaLou loves to not just eat things but take them apart first.  THEN I ran down the stairs (missing the last step and almost killing myself) and went after her. 

Thankfully, God does, in fact, love me.  EmmaLou was reclined on the family room floor looking terribly bored.  My slightly soggy Smart Phone was by her head and it was virtually untouched…nothing but some gooey doggy slobber…no teeth marks….no missing pieces.

I’m sure ya’ll are wondering now what I did next…did I smack the crap outta EmmaLou for snagging my Smart Phone right out from under my eyes?  Did I yell at her and tell her what a bad dog she was?

No.  I just said….”Thanks God I really appreciate this one.  But could ya stop guffawing and work on that wonderful plan part please?”…. sigh…

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Does Your Trained Dog Ignore You? Meet EmmaLou the Queen of Bribery

 

Ya’ll know the Golden Destroyer, EmmaLou – her pic is my blog header most of the time; she has her own page here on this blog, and that shot up above is actually her, but in hiding one day.  EmmaLou, the well-trained pup.  Okay…not so much.

I was reading an article the other day which gave the reasons why your dog won’t pay attention to the commands you give.  I immediately perked up as I was about to learn why EmmaLou simply refuses to obey basic commands.

The article suggests your dog needs more training. More training? EmmaLou passed basic obedience with flying colors.  She did all her commands right on cue during the sessions…even to the point of staying at the door to the facility until we gave her “the release” word, then she dragged our sorry butts to the car, forgetting all she had learned in class.  I don’t recall how many weeks we went through this — practice, practice, practice, reinforce, reward, praise, praise, and then when it really mattered I would give a command and EmmaLou would look at me and I knew she was thinking:  “Have you lost your mind?  Moi Come?  Where’s my treat, dumb human?”  By the time we arrived home, EmmaLou had forgotten every command learned.  Oh yeah, more training was definitely needed.

For several months, EmmaLou had her own Dog Whisperer.  She doted on him and would do whatever he wanted.  Then he would patiently explain to me how to get her to respond to a basic command  such as “Come”.  I would try it, EmmaLou would respond properly and off the personal trainer went w/my $50 in hand.  As soon as he exited the driveway,  I would command of my pup, “Come” and EmmaLou would promptly turn her back on me and go chew a couch cushion.  Obey commands?  Not interested.  The personal trainer cost us a fortune and he did not understand why we continued to have behavior problems.  He finally decided the problem with EmmaLou was, in fact, ME.  Big mistake.  I fired his a$$ faster than he could say “Come.”   EmmaLou continued to stick out her doggie tongue at me at every opportunity but at least I was no longer paying $50 for that particular experience.

Back to the article…when you call your dog and she comes to you,  reward her. This little nugget is known as “reinforcement.”  I’ve mentioned  EmmaLou does not respond to “Come.”  She does, however, respond to “Treat,” and will come inside with that one word…reinforcement.  I must bribe my dog to return.  BTW the word “Treat” no longer works if she has already counter-surfed that night’s roasted chicken.  Then “Treat” becomes moot. 

Adding insult to injury, the article discusses “competing reinforcers” which is fancy trainer-speak for my dog has a colossal case of “Ooooh Shiny!”(or in her case “Oooooh What’s That Over There?”)  EmmaLou gets away every once in awhile; the gate may be open, the garage door up, or she rips the leash out of my hand and takes off.  How do I retrieve my retriever?  I holler at the top of my lungs….”EmmaLou, wanna go for a ride in the car?”  That dog will stop dead in her tracks leaving puppy paw skidmarks if she hears that question.  All it takes is a car ride. She returns…and off we go for a ride around the block.  Then she calmly walks back inside and with a doggie smirk on her face gives me the look.  The look that says…”You are the most pitiful excuse for an Alpha Female on the face of the planet and I can bend you to my will whenever I wish.”   Yup – competing reinforcers at work here.

Finally, the article claims I don’t understand my dog’s needs.  Not true; her needs are simple.  She has a need to be out in the backyard rolling around in dessicated chipmunk remains, or frolicking in fresh squirrel urine and rabbit poop on a regular basis.  If it smells horrid, she’s on it in a flash.  The article states I should not rush her; she may need to sniff around a little longer or search for a good bathroom spot.  Wait.  The entire backyard is one big bathroom spot.  I’m the one left standing on the porch tapping my foot while she sniffs every blade of grass.   Oh…did I mention she won’t  (repeat WON’T) go outside unless I go outside first?  It’s true…my dog won’t go pee unless I step outside first and lead the way.  We accidentally taught her that behavior  when she was just a little puppy as we thought it was cute when all of us went outside together.  She “needs” for  mom and/or dad to go out the door first, then EmmaLou will follow.  Many a day I have been on my deathbed begging her to go out alone because I’m sicker than a leper with dermatitis and will she go out?  No.   Oh, I understand her needs alright.

I’m afraid at this rate EmmaLou will never get her Good Canine Citizen Certificate.  I can accept that because EmmaLou is simply so danged cute she makes up for any and all bad behavior…it’s those big chocolate brown eyes – she had me at “Woof.” sigh…

Support Socks for Worn-Out Doggie Joints – awwwww

There is a site I found through FB – it’s called dogasaur.com and it is currently featuring a product called Woodrow Wear’s Power Paws which are support socks for dogs.  Seriously…support socks for dogs.

Not only do they support the joints of older dogs to help them get up and down, but they have some traction too.  That way your pup doesn’t slip on that wood floor you just polished and further agravate his arthritis.

I’m thinking we need some of these for people too – there’s gotta be something similar on the market.  I never have enough traction – one of the reasons I fall…but I look so ugly in cleated shoes and they tend to ruin the carpeting in the areas of the house that are carpeted.  Ack.  Somehow or other I think the dog below wearing the socks looks cuter than me…

dog actually wearing support socks. pic courtesy of dogasaur.com

 And look at this shot of one of the dogs wearing the socks – this is too cute:

courtesy of dogasaur.com

I did once find some socks that had these strange bumps on the bottom of them – I guess that was the nonskid stuff – but the bumps hurt my feet through the socks.  Need something better. 

EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer will have to suffer through old doggie age without these support socks.  She refuses to wear anything – we’ve tried the bows on the ears and the cute bandanas from the groomer and it gets downright ugly.  One winter I had bought some little adorable doggie-paw sized rubber booties that she could wear out in the snow on her walks with Devoted Spouse so she wouldn’t get road salt on her paws.  Yeah, that worked for all of about 2 minutes.  Not even the velcro could keep those things on her paws.  And she was most unhappy to boot (no pun intended).

I guess what really irks me about this is that I didn’t come up with the idea first.  Darnitall another missed opportunity.  Can you say….pet rock?  sigh…

Another 12-Step Program for EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer

Yes it’s beginning to look like Christmas – oh we don’t have the snow but we do have the tree.  And, yes, I have it up and fully decorated.  No, you may not see it yet.  That is for Friday’s post so  you will have to be patient a little longer.

Today’s story does, however, involve the tree.  You see, I have learned from past Christmas seasons that the one thing more important than any other in this house is to keep the tree secured and safe from the stealing paws of EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer.  She has in the past stolen and chomped on many ornaments, even destroying some old family treasures, much to my displeasure.

I learned several years ago to put baby gates up to protect the tree from her midnight raids.  We put up the tree in a corner of our dining room so a gate goes across the dining room entrance to the kitchen, and another gate is set up among chairs going from the dining room into the living room.  Sounds confusing and it doesn’t look very nice, but it serves the purpose.

So there I was this afternoon sitting on the couch watching a DVR of Dollhouse and having a wonderful time while Devoted Spouse was in the living room reading.  What is that noise I hear?  It sounds suspiciously like chewing…chewing on some type of wood…there is loud crunching involved.  Nah…we have baby gates.  Devoted Spouse must be eating Trail Mix and he’s just being overly loud about it.

I continued watching Dollhouse when that little alarming bell in the far reaches of my brain went off.  What if one of the baby gates wasn’t up?  Could that sound be EmmaLou eating one of my ornaments?

Yup.  I raced into the dining room to find that the baby gate had been moved.  There EmmaLou was on the floor by the tree and she had one of my ornaments, a cluster of wooden cherries, complete with wiring, in her jaws and she was thoroughly enjoying chewing.  I pried her jaws apart – no easy feat – and managed to get my hand in her mouth — yes I got a few war wounds.  Giving up those wooden cherries was not on her agenda.  I finally pried the entire cluster from her mouth, plus the two she had pried off the original cluster.  She continued chewing and swallowed.  I examined what was left of the ornament and I don’t think she really ate anything dangerous, she might have gotten a wood chip or two, but the wires were still intact.  This is what she tried unsuccessfully to consume:

wooden cluster of cherries

I was livid.  She thought it was a new game and started racing around the house to stuff into her mouth as many toys as possible so I could pry them loose also.  Grrrr…

Crisis averted narrowly.  Devoted Spouse and I reminded each other of the danger to her of the Christmas tree and we both vowed to make sure those gates are up and EmmaLou is nowhere close to that tree unsupervised ever again.

She knew she had done wrong – I ignored her for several hours and to EmmaLou that is a fate worse than death.  It is her usual punishment when she has been a bad dog.  That, and a mugshot to add to the books.  Oh, and I signed her up for a new 12-step program:

I'm addicted. I'm going on Oprah to admit it to the world

It has been a nerve-wracking experience — my fingers are raw from having her bite me as she continued to chew the wooden cherries and I’m on my last dog stunt nerve.  EmmaLou has been warned that there is a Puppy Farm and they have a room waiting for her if she tries this stunt again.  If she attends her OEA meetings and makes amends, I may forgive this incident.  Given her past history, I’m not hopeful; once an ornament eater, always an ornament eater.