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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Precious Foxes Sassy

Precious looks like a little fox when she grins.

Treasure makes sure that the food comes to her.

All three dogs love to share in treats, so the crackling of paper makes them line up. I know chocolate is not good for them, but they love a little taste of it. When I have a square, each dog gets a tiny corner of it.

Sassy was enjoying a chew-bone when snack time came around. Precious stole her bone and walked off with it. I first saw her do that with Sacky, our Cattle Dog who died. Sacky was senior to the Shelties, but let that happen. Sassy is not so tolerant of her snacks walking away. She moved away from the line-up and retrieved her bone, resting on the bed, relishing it.

That let Precious have the ringside seat near my desk chair. Precious lined up for her taste of chocolate. So did Treasure, her daughter. Treasure affects a great sense of shyness, so I have to place her treats near her - so she can sniff them and delicately enjoy them. Sassy saw the Shelties living it up while she had her old bone. The light went on in her head and she came down to claim her taste of chocolate.

All three dogs get along great and cuddle together on the bed. The Shelties have reclaimed their rights and no longer feel threatened by that big, loud intruder named Sassy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From the Treetops

Every movement toward the garage now means a few tosses of the ball. Salesmen call this the assumptive close. Would you like your new freezer delivered on Monday or Tuesday? Would you rather have a blue or a green SUV? The closing question assumes the sale.

Sassy assumes I go to the garage to toss her ball. I can take out the garbage or pick up the paper, but she waits around with that big goofy grin, waiting for me to wise up and throw her ball.

The other day I tossed her ball into the street (only when it is safe) and saw her lope off to get it. Two men were cutting down a tree. The one on the street caught her ball and tossed it back for Sassy to fetch. From the top of the tree, his co-worker said, "That's quite a pooch you have."

Now kids are calling her the tripod dog. They know Sassy by name. Sassy loves the attention and charms everyone. One day she saw two boys get out of their family car, across the street. Sassy planted her front feet and did her best German Shepherd baying. Then she ran full-speed at them to be friends. One boy looked like he was facing his death, but I shouted that she was just trying to be friendly. Sure, it was an odd way to say hello, but Sassy can switch from guard dog to lapdog in a flash.

Sassy's new trick is tapping. She uses her front paw more like a hand. She does a tap, tap on my shoulder to get attention. When I turn, she is grinning. We are getting used to her big vocabulary. She has words to express many different emotions. She tells on her fur-sisters when they are eating food she wants. She moans and burbles in the oddest way when going outside to the park - her happiest moments. If she is hungry, she works up one big bark.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lassie Come Home

Lassie (left) was portrayed by Pal and his descendants. Tom Rettig played Jeff Miller in the TV series for four years, grew up to be a famous software engineer, and died of a heart attack at age 54.

I still remember my mother reading Lassie Come Home to us four Jackson kids, and that was more than 55 years ago. I don't know if I saw the movie as a child, but we watched the TV series, disappoinited that Jeff Miller was replaced by another actor.

Lassie has her own website, like everyone else.

When we had Old Precious, many people stopped to say "Lassie!" when they saw her. Purists say that a Sheltie is not a collie, but the coloring is much the same. Now our little Precious has a similar face, but she avoids the public.

I forgot that Tom Rettig was famous as a software engineer.

The film was the only movie Old Precious watched from beginning to end. She even barked back at Lassie. Roddy McDowell played the dog's owner, but Lassie starred in the movie. A little girl who shows up at the end is Elisabeth Taylor. Wikipedia had her "starring" in the film. She starred in National Velvet a little later.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rin Tin Tin

The original Rin-Tin-Tin still has a line of descendants.

Rin-Tin-Tin has his own website, but does he have his own blog?

His story is quite interesting and worth reading.

Most people see the German Shepherd in Sassy. Her head is very much German Shepherd, but her body is more like an Australian Cattle Dog. She seems to have the herding instincts and intelligence of both breeds, and a very high IQ. Her foster parent Betty thinks Sassy is one of the smartest dogs she has ever known.

Sassy is not the shy, one-person dog I expected of a Cattle Dog, and she is not intimidating, as some German Shepherds are.

She learns the first time but has her own ideas about things. When I send her outside, she stops twice to see if I am including her with the other dogs (two Shelties). The message is clear - "There must be a mistake."

Treasure can be clever too. I was absolutely certain I had all three dogs locked outside. She could have stayed hidden in the bathroom, but she hopped on the bed, grinning, very pleased with herself. That is a Sheltie trait - outsmarting the human and gloating about it.

Sassy Trees a Cat

When Sassy gets back on our block, coming home from the park, she has two important destinations. One is to bark at the three dogs who lie in wait on the other side of the fence on the corner. Today she ran there so fast she skidded into the fence. The three dogs sound like they are wounded and furious each day, but they are always looking for a bark-fest. They bark from across the street when we avoid them on the way to the park. They are very quiet when we approach their property on the way back. As soon as I say, "No one is home, Sassy," they light up.

The next yard is the best for Sassy. A grey cat lives there and often hangs around outside. Sassy does a quick search mission each time. Almost always the cat has an escape route into the garage or under the car.

One day, on the way to the park, Sassy caught the cat in the open and treed her. She marched off to the park, pleased with herself.

Old Precious finally cornered a cat on one of our walks. The cat puffed out her chest and raised an ominous claw with talons extended, hissing. Old Precious suddenly decided cats were not worth annoying.

Sassy's Wake Up Call

Recently I was sleeping a little late for Sassy, around 7 AM.

I felt a warm paw gently touching the end of my nose. I opened my eyes. Sassy was smiling at me, glad that she found the On button.

Sassy has become Miss Congeniality for the whole neighborhood. We walk to the park every day, so she is well known for fetching the ball. Adults and children marvel at her agility and speed in spite of a missing hind leg.

One woman today said, "I thought she was born that way. I cannot get over how she runs." Sassy was really showing off, leaping in the air to catch the tennis ball as it bounced away from her. If the ball bounces from her nose, she happily follows it.

Sometimes Sassy drops the ball to sniff around. Then she runs happily back without it. We have little discussions about where the ball is and whose turn it is to get it.

Sassy has a patented hug. She grabs an arm with both front legs and presses her head against the individual. She wants to meet every person on her walk and check out their dogs. Not everyone wants a dog introduction, so I keep her back from unwelcome meetings. At the park she was invited to meet one of two dogs, since the other one was a grouch. She went nose to nose and was very happy.