Sassy Sue wows the bark park visitors with her catching and retrieving.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sassy Sue Is the Three-Legged Charmer

 Sassy is completely in love with the four Esses, each daughter's name beginning with S. Each one has fussed over Sassy, and she loves it. Scared of her? - they own pit bulls.

I promised two readers they would hear from their CyberPet again soon: Sassy the Wonder Dog. Recently, Sassy saw her friends getting out of the van. She ran over and sat down in front of the youngest, grinning. That means, "You will pet me and talk to me." Sophie obliged, as the brother and sister did when walking to school. Sassy simply blocked the sidewalk by sitting in front of them, knowing they would stop and pet her.

Three legs? She was the star of the dog park. The other dogs were jealous of the magic orange ball that made everyone applaud her.

Yesterday, we passed Pat and John's home on our walk. John called from his door, "Sassy...." His wife came to share the love, too. Sassy is expected to kiss their hands each time, and she does.

On the way back we saw the morning coffee couple. She is known for putting her car in park, jumping out to see Sassy. We see them every morning in warm weather. Next the painter stopped his car on the street and talked to us. One day, his children and nephew brought us five paint cans (five gallon, empty and clean) for gardening.

If Ranger Bob is around, there is a big round of yelping, barking, and moaning. She adores him and his brother Mike. Bob calls her ChowHound, and adds, "I love that dawg. I am not a dawg person but I love that dawg. Whenever you get tired of her..." We gave him a large print of her smiling face. He loves it.

When Bob knocks on the door, he asks, "Got any of that good coffee left?" I make a pot of pour-over coffee while we talk about battleships, fixing cars, and dealing with taxes. I work on his taxes and get beautiful used books about the Navy for $1 used. One was in demand so it was more, so that was his chosen Christmas present. Paperwork flummoxes him the way car repairs stymie me, so we specialize. Sassy begins by barking and carrying on with him, demanding treats, and finally lying down to listen to him talk. If we watch car repair videos in our spare room, she lies down to listen.

 Sassy wore the Maroons' M for the river walk, which added up to two people and a dog. Our reunions are less organized than a London soccer riot.

We have taken Sassy to several Moline reunions. We are the luckiest people in the world to have her, but people thank us for rescuing her. She has routines and games that manage us, whether we think about it or not. Yesterday, she put her paw in the air, pretending to claw the table. Of course, she fixed her eyes on me. She looks like a student in the classroom when she does that, except she often adds her devilish smile. She knows I will laugh and respond. Then she grins at my reaction.

 When MHS 66 ladies and Christina had lunch at a Moline reunion, Sassy and I provided a security perimeter. Notice how she is barking her happiness. If she could not bark her joyfulness, she would explode.

Sassy generates happiness wherever she goes - post office, meat market, walks, trips. If I happen to pass through McDonalds without her, they ask about Sassy, who gets a little ice cream each time.

The Frosty Paws routine each night is elaborate:

  1. Restless murmuring, sometimes hurt looks.
  2. "Is Sassy looking for something?"
  3. "Maybe, Frosty Paws?"
  4. Her responses vary from slapping the blanket with a grin to sorrowful barks about being forgotten.
  5. "Love first, then Frosty Paws."
  6. She stays in place.
  7. "Come on up here. Do I have to YANK you?"
  8. She feigns terror and clutches the mattress.
  9. I reach out and tug her a bit. Eyes widen.
  10. Then I clap. "Move. Move. Or no treat."
  11. She gets up and moves two inches, collapsing down.
  12. "Are you kidding me? Move up!"
  13. She moves up just enough to be petted, grinning.
  14. After hearing how much everyone loves her, she gets one teaspoon of vanilla ice cream.
 The drive through tellers loved her so much, they gave her extra treats for barking loudly into the mike. That woke up everyone inside. The branch moved away - too much overhead?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sassy Heard the Admonition - Make No Small Plans.
The Legs as Motivators

She heard "Treats!"
Sassy is the cyber-pet for many blog fans.

Sassy uses her legs as powerful communication devices. One is her levels of urgency when she on the bed and I am resting or reading:

  1. Very gentle, steady pressure - duties await.
  2. Light swat at my leg - you know what is coming up.
  3. Single scrape across the kneecap - I mean it now.
  4. Double scrape, kneecap, vigorous - No more stalling. This is when I tell Chris to watch for the triple-scrape, which does not hurt.
  5. Sassy makes a surprised noise about my reluctance and drags her claws across my kneecap three times, faster and harder than before.

At this point I burst into laughter, because she has worked up to the ultimate, you-cannot-ignore-this signal. She enjoys the laughter because she is a clown who wants to entertain us and anyone else who is observing her.

She has more tricks. One is the scrape in the air. That began as scraping the antique table, which made a lot of noise with her claws. I did not see where the odd noise came from, and it happened only when I was concentrating. Finally I caught her and glared at her. She withdrew looking very guilty. The next time I laughed and she realized the joke. From that time on, a scrape on the table was done with a big grin. "Am I smart and funny too?" We moved a metal table to that place and the noise was very strange. I repeated my fierce look. She paused, grinned, and did it again.

Now there is a narrow shelf in the same place. She cannot easily reach it, so she reaches up in the air and scrapes the imaginary table, grinning. "Oh my, Sassy. What do you want? Crunchies? A walk? Frosty Paws? Lovey time?"

She may answer by being happy and energetic, or by slumping on the bed as if she is burdened by thick-headed staff. Normally, lovey time means she will not come to us but looks defiant. "Do I have to draaaag you?" She looks frightened at the thought. I reach out and touch her gently then say, "Move move." She jumps up and moves several inches. "Oh Sassy, you moochy pooch. You can move." She grins, moves close between and flops down.

The ideal lovey is when she comes up on her own, lays her front paw on Chris, grins, and listens to praise and encouragement. Once she has her quota from Chris, Sassy lays the same paw on me - it is my turn. I talk about her popularity in the neighborhood and the McDonalds staff loving her. That done, with some petting, she goes to her place and falls asleep.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sassy Yips for Her Cone

Ranger Bob laughs when we drive by, because I am the chauffeur and Sassy is my passenger in the back seat, barking out the open window.

Like any child, Sassy picks up on words that suggest something she enjoys. Yesterday I hinted at a trip for medicine and "should I bring back a quarter cheese plain"...Sassy's face turned toward me and she grinned her closing grin, "You are taking me along, aren't you?"

When I confirmed the trip, Sassy was all over the place, barking and bouncing around in joy. She likes the Town Car especially, because her window opens and she gets a ton of attention at McDonalds. The ice cream machine has been down, so I went with some worry about the main reason for going: not medicine, not groceries, not a sandwich, but The Cone. I eat the top part and she finishes, something we have done since rescuing her in Phoenix, about 10 years ago. There we went for bottled water and a sugar cone. Eating the cone meant having taps on my shoulder - from the back seat - to remind me that my passenger wanted her share.

Sassy was wound up for this trip. When I ordered, her face was out near the screen, making various canine sounds of impatience. Yes, they had cones! Yip. When I approached the window to pay, Sassy's favorite cashier was grinning at her. We spoke about the cone situation and Sassy began high-pitched yips of delight. The cashier loved the display.

Sassy turns an ordinary trip into an event. It usually ends with a Sassy story, and she enjoys hearing about her adventures, told to her mom in great detail. Morning walks are similar. People come out of their homes to see her, and she pauses at favorite homes to see if anyone is up and about.

Sassy refused to sit next to the McDonald statue alone.

 A stranger offered to take our photo with Ronald, so Sassy complied.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Why Sassy Refused To Go Outside

 The morning walk is non-negotiable, unless...

Normally I wake up before dawn and make coffee. Sassy comes into the kitchen and sits in expectation of some Johnsonville brat pieces. Her morning walk is the long one for the day, when she visits friends and urges me onward so she can explore more yards.

By the way, some people are wroth that I write about Sassy, but I wonder who gave them a license to run the world. I assume they have done badly with their individual efforts, so they need to expand their management to Planet Earth. So I am doubly motivated to write about Sassy. Many readers consider her their CyberPet. Others need something to tweet about to their mutually despairing friends.

After finishing a mug of fresh Ethiopian coffee and providing the same to Mrs. Ichabod, I dressed for the morning outing. Normally I have a dog smiling and tagging along with me as I find shoes and socks. I was all the way to the front door when I went halfway back to collect her. We walked to the door, quietly, calmly, almost with foreboding. Then I opened the door to see a steady rain coming down. Her ears picked that up from the start. "Come on out!" Nope. I later told Mrs. I that Sassy would give her life for me, but not if it was raining. I told Sassy, "At least come out and get drained." She accomplished that and headed back to the porch.

I was left standing in a very light rain, so I came back in, too. Sassy got her morning food, which we call her crunchies. The day before we found her favorite neighbor-girl running toward the school bus, which was pulling away. I stood in the street and waved both arms until the bus stopped enough for Ess3 to get on board. Later she told her Mom that we stopped the bus for her. The four daughters' names start with S, so they are the Esses, numbered accordingly to keep them straight in conversation at home.

So the morning started with rain, something I really wanted but discounted from the recent meteorological disappointments. Three days of previously predicted rain turned into a few hours of stingy rain. The remnants of a hurricane went somewhere else and the drought continued. My plans were to gather the rain buckets and water the new Cinnabon shrubs (Clethra) and the Butterfly Garden. Instead, we had all day rain - steady, gentle, and persistent. Even in the late afternoon, a fine mist was falling. Buckets and barrels are now overflowing with rain.

 Clethra - Summersweet, aka the Cinnabon shrub.

The bulbs I planted are hydrated from the rain and forming roots for their growth in the spring. Previously planted herbs are greened up and thriving in the mild weather, 60 - 70 degrees. Soil has been settled by the steady rain. Tons of rain-fertilizer have fed the fungi, bacteria, all earthworms, all creatures large and small. The rain did more work for me in a day that I could ever accomplish.

Roses do not like the hot, dry summer, but they thrive in the cool, wet weather of spring and autumn. Bugs are relatively few, and bushes thrive from the moisture and nitrogen compounds. In addition, rain activates the soil creatures

  • to aerate the soil, 
  • to fashion tunnels for rain, and 
  • to hold usable chemicals in the root zone (by living or dying, by eating or being eaten).

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sassy the CyberPet

This is the expression most people see with Sassy,
and "Treats!" will also elicit this response.

Sassy has quite a fan club in Springdale. She is well known at Lowe's, where she loves to shop in the garden department. She enjoys trips to Walmart, which often end with driving through McDonald's next door. She has barked into the mike, but also may hold her peace for the cashier or the second window, where her cone is delivered. Yesterday, the cone was delivered with a big smile and a bow by one of her fans on the crew.

We have shared cones for 10 years. I get the first part, and Sassy reminds me when her part is due. I get taps on the shoulder to remind me of my need to share with her. Not one tap, but three taps. At home, the reminders are, in order of urgency:

  1. The first gentle tap on the knee
  2. Two gentle scrapes across the knee
  3. Two energetic scrapes accompanied by her arrogant German Shepherd scowl. I ask Chris to watch as Sassy escalates the warnings on the bed. Naturally I am laughing as they worsen.

Sassy was amused by the photographer getting on the floor.

As her foster mother warned, Sassy is a talker, with a wide range of vocal cues, barks, moans, friendly growls, and songs. Consequently, we talk to her all day and have lots of conversations, which include her pop up ear alerts, smirks, arrogant German Shepherd scowls, grins, and kisses of all types. Her communication vocabulary seems endless. One kiss on the cheek is reserved for the dog park and a few other delights. Her warning warble is used outside the vet's office, but not every time. She sings with me or may just bark - very loudly.

Ranger Bob and our granddaughter get the loudest, most agonized greetings. A stranger would think Sassy is being tortured. Everyone else gets standard barks.

The talking part comes from her Cattle Dog heritage, and they tend to sing too. Cattle Dogs can be painfully shy and one-person dogs, but Sassy adopts everyone she sees, allowing for the unenlightened to not welcome her. She no longer expects every single person to adore her, but most see her gentle face and start warming to her at once. Sassy sniffs for dog traces on their feet and legs and knows when she has a fan almost immediately.

The loud conversations are hilarious. On walks through the neighborhood, everyone talks to Sassy. People sit in front of their homes and expect friends to drop by for a minute or even to "set a spell." Sassy will settle down and guard the property, constantly scanning it for any new activity, from a squirrel nearby to a person a half block away. Then she gets up and barks.

"Are you in a hurry?"
"Do you have an appointment soon?"
Bark! Bark!
"Let's go then."

Ranger Bob, an Army veteran, gets the full treatment: the agonized greeting, begging for dog treats, rolling over for a tummy rub, and resting nearby on the floor and listening. We often use the computer to order car parts (for our fleet of old cars) or to research an item - Social Security, taxes, car repair videos, and Command Cody's music.

Today we were walking past the big field where her friends have coffee in front of their home most mornings. Instead, the wife was leaving in her car, but stopped and opened the door to talk to Sassy. Sassy came over for hugs and praise, and the lady was all lit up with smiles.

When another morning friend sits with us, she says, "How about some love, Sassy?" Then Sassy will kiss her hand.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

For Sassy's Many Friends

 Long ago, Sassy was rescued and treated for her damaged leg. She did not want help walking anywhere. This is a photo from her foster family in Arizona.

 I took Sassy to the park in Phoenix every morning.
In Arkansas, she was perfect at catching her orange ball and bringing it back. The people at the dog park clapped for her catches, so the other dogs were jealous and wanted her magic orange ball.
Sassy gets fan-mail from blog readers. She is called the Cyber-pet by some and readers want to hear more about her. She is half German Shepherd and half Australian Cattle Dog. ACDs are also called Heelers and Queensland Heelers.

Her German Shepherd side is intensely loyal and protective, intelligent and independent in her thinking. The ACD side is also known for intelligence, independent thinking, but especially for talking and singing. When I make up a song and sing it to her, Sassy howls and barks with me, especially when her name is in the lyrics.

People adore her and make a fuss over how gentle and sweet she is. She expects that. They also laugh when she bosses me around. She barks at me for talking to neighbors on walks.
"Are you in a hurry today?"
"You have an appointment?"
"Bark! Bark!"
"You have to go now?"
"Bark! Bark! Bark!"

Children observe, "You have a bossy dog."

Yesterday Sassy stepped out for her early evening walk, went on full alert, and began barking loudly. We saw the oldest Ess girl sitting on the porch. One reason to bark was - she was Sassy's first good friend on the block. Then Ess 2 took over and doted on Sassy. Now Ess 3 makes a point of petting Sassy while the baby Ess 4 giggles and laughs. Their names all start with S, so we call them the four Esses.

The barking was so loud because Ess 1 was holding a kitty. Sassy loves them and is very gentle, but she thinks barking loudly at a cat will endure her to the kitty. Sassy homed in on the cat and eventually touched noses with her. We laughed about how Sassy used to chase her black cat onto the roof of the house. But later, the same cat latched onto Sassy's thigh for getting near her kittens. Sassy was unharmed, except for her dignity. That took place during a yard sale when we were all milling around and Sassy got between the kittens to be given away and the mother cat.

Sassy listens closely to the voices of those who meet her. We found one new neighbor who was late for work but anxious to pet her. Sassy felt that love sat for her moment of adoration. "What a sweet face. I'm so glad I met you, Sassy."

Ranger Bob leaves water out for all critters, and Sassy stops by for a drink every morning. She pauses and listens for noises inside the house. She is happy to call Bob outside to fuss over her. They are the best of pals and the primary reason we commissioned a J. C. Penney portrait of her.

Ranger Bob often talks to her like a rough, tough sargeant, but he can do no wrong in her eyes. She can hear the real Bob, who buys food for stray cats - even for the one that annoyed him by generously marking his bedroom window. Bob said, "He let me pet him while he was eating."

Three-legged in this case. Tragic?
No, we got Sassy from that horse hurting her leg and the family abandoning her.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sassy Walks, Talks, and Balks

We walked at 6 AM today, and I used the inclement weather (only 72) to do some weed trimming. Sassy often sits in the grass, in the middle of the garden, or on the driveway to supervise. I looked around for her and saw that she bulled her way through the front door, only partially shut.

We often see Pat and her husband John. We were too early for them today. Her favorites are Ranger Bob and his brother Mike, who fuss over her. "She is so spoiled," Bob says as he feeds her treats. She greets him like a long-lost owner, even though we see him several times a week. She barks loudly, her favorite way of greeting friends.

Sassy is an effective manager. She slows down behind me to explore her favorite places. Sometimes she wants to cross the street on her own. Then we have a dog-whisper talk. I hold her head gently and speak softly. "You have to ask to cross. You know that." If she pulls away, I talk longer. Afterwards, she jumps up to lick my hand, asking to be restored and reconciled. I tell her what a great dog she is, how much everyone loves her.

Sassy uses her paws for a lot of communication:

  1. A very light tap - Reminder of a task that needs to be done.
  2. A gentle paw scrape - Time to get that done. I tell Mrs. Ichabod to wait for the next stage when I close my eyes.
  3. Three very firm paw scrapes - Her patience with me is ended, and I get her arrogant German Shepherd look. I get her regular food - her crunchies.
  4. Waving the paw in the air - that turned into our mutual joke because I found it so funny. She used her claws to make noise on an antique table, then on a metal air filter. When I laughed about it, she did it with a big grin each time, now in the air because her filter machine and table are too far away. The paw is for treats. She does it to Bob in another room, too.
  5. Tapping us for her night-time routine. Sassy taps me, then Chris, for petting and talking. We tell her how much everyone loves her and how much we enjoy her. She grins and soaks it up for five minutes, then goes to sleep at the foot of the bed.
  6. Holding down our hands. If we are doing a good job petting her, Sassy uses her paws and legs to hold us in that position.
  7. The gentle knee-scrape at dawn. Sassy thinks that when Dawn, the rosy-fingered child of Morn, appears, she should be enjoying her walk. 
  8. Sassy also pouts for attention. She sits with her back towards us and looks toward us a bit, to see if we still love her. "Want some loveys?" She barks and moves up to get some petting, tummy rubs, ear massages, and pep talks.

"Resist the Beginnings" - Lenski/Pfotenhauer

Sassy's best friend at the drive-through window suggested Frosty Paws for her. I bought the pet iced milk, saw how it was made, and switched to Great Value ice cream packets. Sassy loved it from the start and we continued to serve GV as Frosty Paws.

Sassy made it clear that it was a daily night-time ritual, so we began an evening drama with her. She shows a certain amount of discomfort and murmurs a bit. We debate what the problem might be. Finally we discover it. "Frosty Paws? Does she want Frosty Paws?"

Sassy's response varies. Last night she smacked the bed with her paw and grinned, then looked out the door so I could find where the Frosty Paws were located. Once we discussed it with company in the living room. Sassy yelped from the bedroom, yes - she wanted it now.

Every so often, the product name makes her drop her head onto the bed - she is ready for it. We can get kisses and loveys from bringing the subject up. Once discussed, she is confident I will deliver one teaspoon for her. I sing various product songs as I carry it from the kitchen. Mrs. Ichabod always serves.

Frosty Paws, Frosty Paws, Gotta Have Some Frosty Paws
Guess who's here to scoop it and deliver?
You can have your Frosty Paws, get a lot of Frosty Paws.
Have some fun and get some loveys too.

 Resist the beginnings? We have had nothing but fun with this.