But it Tastes Like Kibble…

Yes, that is a picture of seashells in a glass bowl.  Today there are only a few seashells in that bowl; yesterday it was almost overflowing with lovely shells.  Shells that had meaning….lovingly chosen during a vacation on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  They were not just for decoration; they were a reminder of another time.

You may know that I am in the midst of re-decorating my living room.  There is only one lonely chair remaining in this room, an antique armoire and two small tables.  Oh yeah, then there’s that wall’o’paint but that’s a different story.

Have I ever mentioned my EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer spidey sense?  As in…I know when she’s being naughty…I know when she’s being nice?  Uh-huh.  It’s true.  When it gets very quiet in the house….she’s up to no good.  A mom of a fur-child can just tell these things.  Really.

Yesterday I was having a small problem with my back.  I know…I know…stop lifting heavy pictures off walls and dragging them into the living room to see if they go with any of the paint samples…mea culpa.  Anyway,  I was resting on the remaining couch in the family room when I noticed an eerie silence in the house.  That’s right…it was entirely too quiet.  EmmaLou is up to something.

I painfully got myself up off the couch and started a room-by-room search.  I found EmmaLou in the fairly empty living room with the above-pictured glass bowl of seashells on the floor next to her and several scattered around her in pieces.  Tiny pieces.  EmmaLou was having her version of a seafood lunch.  Crunch….crunch…crunch. 

I may have neglected to mention…prior to taking that picture, the bowl was almost overflowing with amazingly beautiful shells.  The very same shells now strewn in pieces across my living room carpet.  Ack.

I take full responsibility once again for her shenanigans.  I needed the end table for the two boxes of tiny sample jars of paint.  The bowl of seashells found a new home on an antique box much closer to the floor.  In fact, they were at the perfect height for EmmaLou to grab them and find a comfy spot for an afternoon snack.

I once had a bowl full to the rim with lovely seashells…sigh…

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…

What’s New With EmmaLou?

Today is Talk About EmmaLou day.  I need to catch ya’ll up – she’s been a busy little Destroyer.

I have very good hearing (I’m sorry, what’dya say?) – no, I do.  The funny thing about that is hearing things in the background while I’m trying to do something else is very distracting to me…to the point I must use ear plugs.  You know…those odd little orange foam things you stick in your ears (particularly if you shoot guns and I do, but never inside — oh nevermind).  Anyway…little orange foam thingies stuck gently in my ears keep me from having to listen to the nonstop sirens, screaming, obscenities, and the gawdawful theme song as Devoted Spouse watches yet another marathon of Cops in the family room while I am trying to read out in the living room. (whew – long sentence)  Now, most people buy these ear plugs by the pair — Devoted Spouse buys them for me by the jar.  Really.

EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer loves the color orange.  And she loves the texture of foam.  You see where this is going?

I like to keep a pair of foam ear plugs lying on my table next to my comfy chair.  They tend to disappear as you-know-who snuffles around for something to scarf down.  Later as I return to my comfy chair and casually glance at my table looking for either a book, a Kleenex, a stray cookie (don’t ask) or my SmartPhone…I notice there is one orange foam ear plug there…not the usual two.  I go on a hunt because sometimes they do fall on the floor and roll under the chair.  Mostly I just see EmmaLou at a distance…with her jaw working furiously in the hopes of chewing up the foam ear plug and swallowing it before I can get to her and jam my hand and half my arm down her Golden throat (I’ll show you Retriever).  Unfortunately, she usually wins the battle and I come away with scraped hands from sharp doggie teeth.

In the past week, she has eaten 3, yes 3, sets of ear plugs.  This is getting old.  The number of ear plugs in the jar have been greatly diminished.

She graduated from ear plugs to her dog bed a few evenings ago — the same dog bed as shown in the pic up above – yes, it’s a very nice dog bed and was not cheap.  In the midst of ogling Chris O’Donnell on  NCIS LA the other night, and not wishing to be pulled away, I happened to look over and see EmmaLou gnawing on the corner of her bed.  Ack Ack.  STOP – NOW – I threw a pillow at her.  She thought we had started a new game – she loves it when I toss things in her general direction.  All I was trying to do was stop the chewing.  Fortunately a commercial came on.  I got off the couch, went to the dog bed, and yep, big piece chewed off edge of bed.  Anger ensued (on my part…EmmaLou thought we were still playing a new game).

When I am angry with EmmaLou I frown and give her the “STARE”.  She doesn’t like to be stared at straight in the eyes.  I usually do this nose to nose with her.  It lets her know I am not happy with her behavior without harming her in any way coz ya’ll know I would never hurt my precious puppy.  Discipline?  yes.  Harm?  no.  Then when the “STARE” is done I totally ignore her and that is a terrible punishment for a Golden Retriever.  She gets the message loud and clear.  After about a half hour of this, I let her back in my good graces, give her lots of belly scritches and we pretty much start this cycle all over again.

She is such a handful.  But she’s mine and I’ve been trying to keep her from chewing so much by allowing her more time on Twitter.  Positive reinforcement you know.  I hear she’s been acting up on Twitter, too.  sigh…

Oh…the ear plugs?  They no longer reside on the table anymore.  I’ve learned my lesson much to EmmaLou’s dismay.