Friday, July 3, 2009

Alienation of Scottish Affection?

I have always thought that Bailey was not your typical dog. (Duh!) She has never been cuddly. She has always been one of those dogs who will let you hold her for a VERY short period of time, unless it is her idea. With me, and with most of my family, she employs what we call a "butt weld" which is basically sitting with her butt near yours, usually with her front legs elevated onto the arm of whatever chair you are sitting in. She never liked to be held. She never sat on my lap for very long. But, she is very attached to me. And when I leave, she gets very upset. If I walk a course in agility, she watches intently as I weave in and out of others. When I am gone, many people have told me she attempts to pick me out of a crowd. So, she is attached to me, she just doesn't do a lot of cuddling. I have reconciled myself to this over the 8 years we have spent together.

So, when I got Moxie, I was so excited to have a dog I could hold and cuddle. Much to my dismay, she seems quite similar to Bailey in that she will allow me to hold her for very short periods of time, unless she initiated the contact! I have been told this is a symptom of the alpha relationship I have with my dogs. That they show me deference and respect my space. Small comfort when I just want to cuddle a puppy.
Well, recently I have begun noticing VERY different behavior from both of my dogs. Bailey will happily sit on Glenn's lap for an ENTIRE movie. He can hold her upside down on his lap and she will GO TO SLEEP. And Moxie, as any little sister does, follows in Bailey's paw prints. She too will allow Glenn to hold her for rather long periods. Both of them will seek him out when we sit on the couch. He has two dogs draped on him, and I am sitting on the other side watching in awe and frankly, partial jealousy. I mean, what goes on here? Both dogs seem to think he is their own personal easy chair.
Evidence Exhibit A: Bailey and Glenn

Exhibit B: Moxie, not to be outdone, is laying with them. She lays her paws over his arm and watched the movie quite intently for a while. Note the underside of Bailey's chin on the left.

I am just not sure how I feel about this. I am glad they like him. It is a much better situation than the one I find myself in with his cat. She would gladly (and has on occasion) cut me to ribbons for merely walking past her. She has growled at me when I sit with Glenn or lean in to kiss him. (What a prude!) And she doesn't attempt to conceal her contempt for me in the slightest. However, I have a feeling that when Glenn and I are married, I may spend a lot of time puzzling over the "Glenn oreo cookie" created by Glenn bookended by two sprawled out scotties. Is this the beginning of me being the "mean parent"? I am the enforcer? I am the alpha pack leader, and Glenn is simply the pack mate, who can be part of the "dogpile"? I don't know.
For now, I am happy that they seem to look forward to his visits and enjoy hanging out with him. And I feel a small spark of vindication when I walk out the door and Bailey runs after me. I hide a smirk when he tells me the whole time I was gone, Bailey sat by the door and waited for me to return. I enjoy the butt welding and try not to worry about the gratuitous chest sleeping they do with Glenn. But I have to wonder if 24/7 Glenn exposure will strengthen or lessen the bond they seem to have with him. Only time will tell.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Birthday Surprise!

Father’s day was also my birthday and Glenn and I spent most of the morning at my parent’s with some extended family. We went to dinner together Sunday night and then played with the Scottie girls a little bit at my house. When I announced I was tired and started getting toward bedtime, Glenn came in and asked me if I was going to even look at my present. I asked where it was and he said it was on the table. I came in from pottying the dogs to find a beautiful bouquet of roses (which he arranged himself earlier in the day and hid in the house so they wouldn’t get hot in the car at dinner) and I told him they were beautiful and smelled them. Glenn then asked if I was going to look at the cards. I went back to the table and grabbed a large card. It was from Bailey and Moxie. When I opened it, it barked the happy birthday song, which caused lots of head tipping and interest from the dogs. I pulled the card out and it said “Happy Birthday Mom. Will you marry the glenn-bo? Love Bailey and Moxie” (Glenn-bo is what I call him when I talk to the dogs---don’t ask, I’m just weird like that) I had to read the card twice before it made sense to me. I looked at Glenn, who was grinning from ear to ear. He said “Well?” I said yes and he handed me a beautiful diamond ring.

So, it was quite a birthday! And my dogs did the proposing. Turns out Glenn had the ring for almost 3 months. I had told him it was very important to my parents that he ask permission. My dad has been working out of town for the last year and a half and Glenn just didn’t want to ask over the phone. He kept waiting until my dad would be in town. Seems Glenn showed up early for brunch on father’s day and asked my parents together before I got there.

I am so tickled that he thought of such a unique way to propose. It is something I will remember forever and it shows that he really gets me. He was heard several times this weekend claiming that Moxie is “his dog.” I am late getting this blog up, and I know for sure the next one will be about him stealing my dogs’ affection!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Does she know?

Bailey earned her MACH (Master Agility CHampion) title this weekend. Someone posed a question that I had already been pondering: “Does she know?” They were asking if Bailey was aware that she had just earned one of the biggest titles an agility dog can earn. I began thinking about this in earnest. Does she really know?

First, let me say that I am aware that titles are for people and not dogs. I know that in reality, even if she senses something different about this weekend, she knows nothing of qualifying runs, or titles, and is entirely unaware that the collection of letters in front of and behind her name eclipsed mine long ago. And as Sandy Mowry states in her article “What is a Title Really?”, titles are just a way to say you loved your dog, loved to spend time with them and believed in him enough to give him another chance when he failed [or you failed him].

However, I began considering whether Bailey KNEW that she had reached a milestone. For sure I can say she knew something was different. In her career, I have never reached down and picked up the last bar and then turned and begun running the course backward with it. (Her ADCH was earned on a Snooker SuperQ and we never got a victory lap around the ring!) Perhaps she thought I was running with the largest baton she had ever seen. Afterward, she probably realized that I was gushing a little more than usual. I am not sure she recognized that everyone came up and hugged me, except to note that they were keeping her from getting back to her treats at her crate. The many people that said “MACH Bailey!” to her as she ran past were probably ignored entirely. And while I know she is able to understand delayed gratification enough to know that the treats she gets at her crate are for having a good run in the ring, I highly doubt she is able to grasp that the hamburger patty and ice cream she had at Sonic on the way home were for REALLY good runs 4 hours earlier.

In a way, I hope that she doesn’t know much of a difference. I would like to think that I celebrate good runs with her all the time. Unless she totally blows me off or is really bad, she always gets treats, adoring pats and cooing praise at her crate after a run. I know without a doubt that most of the NQ’s we get are because I did something wrong. Almost every knocked bar is a result of poor timing on my part. Most wrong courses can be tracked back to sloppy body position of mine. And even for the issues that aren’t mine, I try extremely hard to forgive as graciously as she forgives my mistakes. This is not to say that I don’t get upset about a bad run (especially when I know it is something dumb I did to cause it), but I try to keep in mind that this is my dog. She is an animal who shows as much devotion to me as I can ever hope to receive. She does the things I ask her to do partially because they are fun, but mainly because I ask her to do them. She loves to go have fun with me. She barks and gets excited to run. And when we come off a course after a good run, she KNOWS we just had a lot of fun. So I hope that this was just another run where we danced around and celebrated afterward. I hope this is just another great, fun time with Mom and the only difference is the ribbon hung on the front of her crate obstructed her view just a little more than usual.

Does she know? I hope she thinks every run is a MACH run!