We had a Blue Healer, an Australian cattle dog, for years. She was incredibly smart and it seemed she could almost read my mind, which is difficult for me to do most of the time. Teaching her new things was easier than teaching our kids and, unlike the kids who had selective memory, most of the time she never forgot, unless it was putting her paw on you.
When she wanted to bond or get your attention, she put her paw, clean or dirty, work clothes or dress-up, on the closest part of your body and not just on me but anyone who came by. Her intent wasn’t to get you dirty and make you yell at her, she just wanted to be included and that was her way of being social. It was especially problematic if friends stopped by to pick us up for a night out. We tried all the tricks, stepping on her toes, yelling in her face, almost everything short of beating her with a rolled up newspaper, which I’m convinced would have done no good. One day in desperation I grabbed one of the kids water filled squirt guns and blasted away.
She shook her head in amazement, sat down on her haunches and stared at me for a good minute, before starting to put her paw on me again. When she did, she got another salvo. She was close range and that time I squirted her in the chest because I didn’t want to possibly injure her eyes by squirting her in the face. The reaction was the same only this time the effect lasted longer. Soon, we were all carrying squirt guns around like Wyatt Earp patrolling the streets of Dodge City. One of the kids even fashioned a holster for quick draws, although after about week it wasn’t necessary. I think our holster designer was somewhat disappointed because he’d spent some time practicing and had become quite good at quick draw. As an aside: it wasn’t long before his friends were having quick draw contests, but that’s another story.
By the end of about the second week, instead of the paw on you being an occurrence that happened every time we sat down, someone came by or no one was paying her any attention, it was only an occasional problem. She was about four and set in her ways when I discovered the squirt gun remedy and it took some time before all we had to do was point our finger at her when it looked as if she couldn’t control the urge any longer.
She was, in my opinion, smarter than the average dog. She loved to go anywhere we went and, if it was going to be a long trip that required no stops along the way, having to pull over and walk the dog was inconvenient. To prove how smart she was; she learned that “Annie, go pee” meant we were ready to leave and she went, even if it appeared she didn’t have to. She was my longtime fishing companion and I miss her but our present lifestyle doesn’t leave room for a large dog, so we have a small cat.
The cat has a problem with refrigerator doors. As in, when she hears one open she’s instantly under your feet, tripping you up and slowing down the cat feeding process..at least she was. The squirt gun once again became a household fixture that is never far from hand. The kids are grown and on their own so I have one to match hand to eye reaction time with but, at least in my opinion, I’ve become pretty proficient at quick draws.
Angela knows where the kitchen boundaries are, even though she has lapses of memory. First thing in the morning and when we move to a new house sitting assignment, she pushes the envelope just to see if anything has changed. When we move into a new house, it doesn’t take her long to know the boundaries when the squirt gun appears or, she’s learned this too, one of us says “OUT.” Usually, all we have to do is point our finger and she retreats to sit on the boundary line…right on the boundary line. If the kitchen has tile floors, she sits with her front feet on the dividing line crack.
Most of our house sittings include a cat or two, a dog two or some combination. Once we house sat where we had to feed the fish but since no Piranhas weren’t involved, it wasn’t a big deal. Our present house sitting arrangement includes a cat, a dozen laying hens, from which we get the eggs, and two roosters. One of the roosters is determined to police his territory using any and all means at his disposal. After a session or two of having him try to spur us, the squirt gun came into play. It took a little more water to discourage him than it does for cats and dogs but, after I hosed him down a couple of times, he learned. I had to laugh because he’d run behind one ot two of the hens and hide. I guess he was chicken.
Once when living in New Mexico, one of our neighbors had a particularly poor mannered Shih Tzu. Every time we stopped by, the dog would jump all over us. One time we took a squirt gun and it only took one time before he decided that he would get his pats if he just sat down and waited. The owners, particularly the lady, thought squirting was nasty, mean and cruel. Her remedy to his jumping up was to tightly roll up a newspaper and pound on him until he stopped, which took some time because his reaction time for avoidance was quicker than hers was for catching up.
I often wondered about the logic behind it all but he was their dog and it wasn’t up to us. Our cure for the problem was to quit stopping by and, if we did, not to go in or stay.