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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sassy Cues

My friends enjoy Sassy posts. She woke me up early, so I decided to write about her signals and cues to us.

Yesterday was a banner day for her. Walking in the rain, she found three squirrels to chase and nearly caught one. She learned early from a dog pal that evasive maneuvers can be countered, so she baffled and startled one squirrel, which made for a long race.

Sassy looks at me when she wants permission to cross the road. Every so often she violates the rule and we have a talk. I hold her chin up and explain the importance of asking permission. She obeys hand signals and loves to run at me when I wiggle my index finger.

Our streets are so quiet most of the time that she is tempted to think the road is just another sidewalk.

Another day she saw a new person drive up at our neighbor's. She waited and looked up at me. I said, "Go ahead and cross." She ran across the street, missed the girl getting out of the car, but got a thorough double-ear massage from the girl's father. Sassy walked away grinning, and he said, "She got what she wanted."

Sassy has a lot of vocal cues. We were warned that she was a talker. More than that, she is a manager. She knows how to finesse us into doing her will.

For treats, she has various levels of cues.

  • Murmuring and muttering.
  • Rotating her tail slowly. This is reserved for treats.
  • If I miss that one, she rotates twice as fast, striking the bed.
  • For emergencies, she moves next to me to make the tail strike my arm as I am working. It is difficult to write with a tail methodically striking my arm.

Chris got some supper for herself, so Sassy posed as the starving puppy. That did not work for getting nibbles, so Sassy gave me gentle paw jabs to force some donations. That was so funny that I went along with it and urged some sharing.

Sassy and I have quite a few discussions. If Chris thinks we should go out for a walk, a conversation with Sassy usually erupts after a delay. Sassy begins to bark loudly and sounds irritated. It is the Bad Daddy speech. I cannot win at that stage. If I defend myself, she barks even more. Once I give in, the happy barks start, and they insure our exit outside. The noise is just too great.

If I stop to talk to a neighbor for too long, Sassy barks loudly for me to hurry up. "Do you have an appointment somewhere?" She barks, "Yes, hurry." If I answer that, she has another set of barks for me.

However, at certain locations she takes on the role of watch dog. She sits up straight and faces the neighborhood, looking around intently and listening for all the various noises. Sassy adjusts her position to make sure she has complete coverage, even when resting from walking and running.

All the kids call out her name, and Sassy goes running to them for some petting. The dogs who come out the front door have warned her away somewhat, but Sassy is the dominant dog. Once she has settled a dog's hash, she will not even acknowledge the animal.

Sassy has a strange way of doing this. She will approach the dog quietly and open up with barking at close range, or she will run full speed at a fence while barking. Both tactics almost cause canine heart attacks and furious counter-barking. After that, Sassy no longer sees or hears them.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sassy Susan Steals a Snickerdoodle

Our daughter-in-law left us some gluten free Snickerdoodles. Chris tries to stay gluten free, and I normally make up for that preference. Gluten free can be awful, but many new foods are quite good.

I tried one cookie and really liked it, so Chris said, "Give me a half cookie. I want a little more."

I passed it behind my back because I was on the computer. I assumed my wife got it. Chris said, "No, Sassy took it from your hand."

Sassy defends herself from trouble by grinning, and she was really pleased with herself. I went to get some water, and Chris promised her more Snickerdoodles.

Sassy sat outside in the hallway, grinning at me. She heard the continuing conversation about another cookie. We all laughed about it as we had one or two more, and Sassy enjoyed it most of all.

I still love the photo we saw of Sassy on the rescue website. The grin captures her personality so well. She grins that way when she approaches her friends among the children on the block. They greet her, pet her, and ask about her.

The latest, "Where are you walking each day?"

"We are not going anywhere - it is just for exercise. We both need it."

Today, Sassy ran smiling toward the four sisters who live on the corner of our street. One is the cutest baby girl. The baby was a bit startled by Sassy's loud barks, but Sassy settled down and got some of those beautiful baby smiles.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sassy - Are You Trying To Tell Me Something?

Sassy snagged her ball from the air again yesterday,
then headed inside, away from the heat and humidity.

Sassy has the most hilarious ways of signaling what she wants.

When she shares medallions of cinnamon toast with me, the pieces that are off spec (too much crust) are left in the bedding.

I taught her to lick her lips when she wanted a snack. She does more than that - she looks at me, smiles broadly, and licks them. Last night I gave her two pieces and stopped. She repeated her signal and I shook my head no. She gave me an even bigger smile and kept beaming the love at me. I gave in, went to the kitchen, and got her one more.

On our walks - To go in a different direction, she plants her feet and does not follow me across the street. She acts deaf but turns toward her goal and looks at me smiling. "Do you want to go down there?" She says yes by heading that way - and I catch up.

The neighborhood children are intrigued by Sassy stopping to look into my face until I give her permission to cross the street. "Do you want to see your friends?" Her answer is to bolt across the cul-de-sac to greet all the children.

Sassy has a tendency to treat the street as a broader version of the sidewalk. The other day I had to remind her to listen to me. A couple of stern words had her making up to me at once. The drivers are especially careful of her, and it is seldom an issue, but I still do not want her Inner Puppy in charge.

I have to tell Mrs. Ichabod the latest Sassy stories when we come back from the walk. We are now a bunny hunt team. Rabbits have their favorite hang-outs, one every few yards. Some have broad expanses of grass and bushes for hiding. If a rabbit is motionless because we are approaching, I point and Sassy makes her run. She will never catch a rabbit, but she enjoys the brief chase.

At the garage sale on our block, Sassy checked in several times a day and visited each family member. She has baby Sophia on her radar now so she always gives the newborn a kiss. Sassy is family to them, and they love to see her.

She is looking at me now, so I need to give her some time and some cinnamon medallions.

Sassy found Ronald McDonald a bit stiff on our trip,
so she refused to sit on his lap. Instead, she posed with her staff
when a local resident offered to take the photo.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sassy Opens the Largest Walmart Supercenter in Arkansas

Ronald is adding a store next to the Supercenter.

Walmart opened the largest Supercenter in Arkansas a short distance from our home, on the way to Ecclesia College, where I teach. They bought a family farm located on an interstate exit.

A woman who grew up on that farm graduated from Ecclesia. The family sold part of the farm and retained the rest for future development.  

Mrs. Ichabod and I went to the grand opening, the first grand opening of anything we have ever attended. We were not about to miss this one. I set the alarm for 5 AM and woke up at 6. I fixed coffee and we were at the store at 6:30.

The lot was almost empty and there was only a tiny group of people at each door. We parked near the platform where the opening ceremonies took place. Sassy walked around me me, letting loose her happy barks. Everyone loved her - except for the frowning Walmart suits, who probably imagined the ceremony like this:

"Welcome to the bark bark mony of bark bark bark. We are so bark bark bark bark you here."

Sassy greeted the two groups of people at the doors. Sassy and I then waited in the limo, which is a second home for Sassy. 

Mrs. I watched the ceremony from the door and I stood by the car. Sassy was completely silent until the opening was done and I got back in the car. She cheered as only Sassy can: "Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark."

Empty lot? At 7:15 AM it was full. At 7:25 a man answered his cell and said, "Where do you think you will park when you get here? There is no room left."

Sam's Club left Springdale for Fayetteville a few year's ago, depriving the city of millions in tax revenue. Everyone is happy to have the Supercenter at our exit of I-49 (Elm Springs), with a new Sam's Club planned in 2016 for the next exit south (Rt. 412 - Sunset) in Springdale. Naturally, businesses like McDonald's surround new retail and even more business is generated.

We are hoping for a Greek restaurant and other amenities. As we tell our friends, Springdale was a sleepy town until we moved here two years ago. 

We love our neighborhood. Sassy is a star wherever she goes. Yesterday she walked across the road to greet a van full of grandchildren. It seems the grandfather brought one set to meet with another set. Sassy met each new child and enjoyed the petting and talking about her. Her pals took their turns loving her, too. 

This home is where all the kids ran screaming into their home when Sassy came by and barked. Then one of them said, "That's Sassy," and they all came out again to play with her.

The configuration is a bit difference for this store.
Everyone is happy to have hundreds of new jobs here,
plus many opportunities for advancement.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sassy Is One of Those Exotic Creatures

Have you seen a murmuration of starlings,
where they weave patterns in the sky by constantly changing group flight patterns?
We watched during a church picnic, transfixed by the ever-changing shapes created.

I lost track of the Facebook page on jeweled spiders from Australia, with some remarkable photos in the article.

I decided to Google the images and could not find anything close to the article, so I wondered if it was a hoax. I could find the category and examples, but they did not look like walking stained glass windows - except for the one photo of a jewelry case in the shape of a spider.

Nothing would surprise me about exotic animals, especially those in Australia, where they seem to be larger, more colorful, and more dangerous than anywhere else except Africa. They even have giant earthworms in Australia.

Everyone loves the Sassy grin.

Sassy is learning her Australian culture, since she is half Australian Cattle Dog, bred from the tough little dingo wild dog of that continent. We sing Waltzing Matilda and the Cattle Dog Blues in the car. That proved useful when we were waiting for tires at Goodyear. Two customers became very interested in her behavior and three legs, so we sang the Cattle Dog Blues, with Sassy howling the chorus. They loved it so much that Sassy pawed my leg to get the second verse going, where she howled again. She loves attention. The customers wrote down the Sassy blog's name so they could look it up later.

When she begins yipping in a high-pitched voice, we chide her about "going full Kelpie." That is another name for the Cattle Dog - Kelpie. When she hears that Kelpie name, she really sounds off.

She used that call to get the Helper family out of their house. Mrs. Helper asks for the happy bark when we stop by. Sassy responds with her German Shepherd voice, a very loud but lower pitched bark, sent left and right for full coverage. "There's that happy bark!" And she barks some more. In contrast, the Kelpie yip is high pitched and penetrating, one sharp warning or alert.

She yips if anyone tries to pick her up or comes close to stepping on her. She is especially sensitive because of her amputation and recuperation, but she is also quite the drama queen.

She is one of those homegrown exotics that people often overlook. Sassy is unusually smart and independent, cleverly working on us to understand to her way of doing things. I just asked her to move over on the bed, so she rolled over for loveys. If Mrs. Ichabod does not join in pettting her, Sassy looks back to get a second person petting her at the same time. She grins about this because her independent actions makes us laugh each time.

Butterfly Weed is related to Milkweed, named Asclepias for the healing properties of this family.

I am hoping that Butterfly Weed will grow in my yard. I planted some along the fence. In time they should show themselves. The attracts butterflies in general but also helps other plants - a companion plant.

Once upon a time Milkweed was common, and so were Monarch butterflies. Now people are wishing for more butterflies and worry about the loss of the Monarch.

I think I spotted some local Milkweed on my walk. A stand of them would support some Monarch caterpillars, but I doubt one plant in the sidewalk crack will do it.

Here the Monarch, in his jade coffin with golden nails. The wing markings are visible. Shortly before he was a fat caterpillar with none of this coloring - no gold frills. I am not going to get jeweled spiders in my yard, but I can raise these and even hatch them in a glass jar, as I did years ago in New Ulm.

No one is sure if the golden nails have a function. I consider it showboating by the Creator. If you ever doubt the power of the Creating Word, look at what He does with with a homely caterpillar that dines on milkweed sap.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Continuing Adventures of Sassy

We saw this photo on the rescue group's website,
and we had to have this three-legged dog.

We think Sassy is the greatest, but we enjoy seeing how much others enjoy her personality and talk about her silky fur, which looks German Shepherd (top half) and Red Healer (bottom half). My neighbor on the corner would love to have her pups, but she is spayed.

Sassy has a combination of personalities and voices. She guards us night and day, even turning around while sitting on the grass, to keep her eye on the perimeter (GS).

Like a Cattle Dog (or Healer), she is a talker and a singer. We sing the Cattle Dog Blues in the car and for select audiences. I am teaching her Waltzing Matilda so she knows one of her two cultures. I had to learn the words and the meaning - a unique national song, not about a girl, and not about waltzing.

Many German Shepherd owners are puzzled by her, because she is off-spec for a GSD. She does not wear that worried look that so many GSDs have. Instead, she smiles all the time and really tries to make friends with everyone. Most adore her, especially when they learn she has three legs.

I was waiting for some attention at the Walmart drive-through for prescriptions. I said quietly to Sassy, "Bark." She let go a big bark and I had an instant reply from the pharm tech. At the bank she got a bigger response, which led to three treats. That was her own idea.

If I go inside, I crank down two windows and position the car so she can watch the front door. I usually say something like, "Guard the limo while I am gone." She usually barks happily to say, "Hurry up!" This time she licked her lips to remind me about getting her snacks.

Our helper's family is used to seeing her twice a day. In the evening Mrs. Helper loves to coax Sassy into her loud, happy barks.

Her are some funny communications from Sassy:

  • Staring at me with a big smile on her face - she wants something and I know what it is.
  • High-pitched sounds every so often - time for a snack.
  • Switching her tail so it beats against my arm - late for a snack, and I should know that.
  • Half closing her eyes - I am not doing my duty. If I respond, a bad daddy tirade starts. I argue back and forth about how I do my best. She barks back that I am neglecting my tasks, especially the walk. She is more impatient for walks than for food.
  • Lightly chewing my hand - do not pluck my shedding hair. I like it there.
  • Ear flapping - this is an alert so I do something for her, like take her out, without waking Mrs. Ichabod.
  • Banshee squeal - this is her loudest bark, far louder than her Wake the Dead bark. I went back to sleep inside after letting her out one evening (good weather, backyard). She used the Banshee on me, and I woke up. She knows how to go to the right window for effect.
That missing leg makes children love her.

Today Sassy asked permission to chase a squirrel. I said, "Our little girl is growing up." She is much better at asking permission. When she wants to walk down another street, she stops, looks at me and smiles, and looks down the street. "Do you want to go there?" She jumps forward for some exploring and seeing favorite spots.

Sassy usually asks if she can meet someone new. She looks up at me, looks at the new person, and smiles. We have had experiences where a new person is frightened or annoyed, so we are more cautious. Most start by admiring her, so she picks up on the affection or smells the dog on their pants. The stranger must like dogs, so she waits for the compliments and gets them.

Sassy friends cats now, but she began her career
on our block by sending a cat up the tree and into its garage.

Early on I took her to a dogpark, and I had her run a lot. As you can see from that early picture, she was rather weak from her neglect and then her amputation. Running at me became a big game.

Almost every day, she holds back, a half-block away. Then I say, "Go, go, go." She runs at me grinning and I grab at her. She evades me at the last minute.

Sassy is a Packer fan and does not mind rubbing it in.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sassy Sue Is Welcome at Lowe's - Picks Wheelbarrow Out with Me

Sassy caught the ball for a professional pet photographer.
I had a pile of seed packets burning a hole in my pocket. I wanted them in the ground and growing - spinach, lettuce, kale, and egg plants.

Our helper semi-prepared an area for me to finish, in the future corn patch. Earlier I put some sunflowers in, near the house, because I wanted the other rows for vegetables in the sun. Yesterday, the ground was very tough and not easy to break up for planting.

Sassy and I took off for Lowe's for mushroom compost and a tiny wheelbarrow. I wanted something inexpensive to haul bags, and I needed more mushroom soil for my newest scheme. The Internet says  not to plant in pure compost, but this was more of an experiment than the ultimate vegetable garden.

Lowe's welcomes dogs, as Sassy and I learned earlier, so we went in together to get our wheelbarrow, mushroom compost ($2 bag) and mulch. The wheelbarrow fit in the trunk of the Town Car, with room for half of the cypress mulch. Try that in your sissy Prius.

A contractor buying supplies thought my new wheelbarrow was too tiny. I said, "Hauling soil is overrated. So is digging soil." He laughed, because he was going to be putting in drainage for yards that were becoming ponds in the rainstorms.

The woman who fussed over Sassy in the flowers area helped with the mulch and compost, calling Sassy by name. We got everything into the car, and we headed home. Sometimes we sing songs in the car. I can get Sassy joining the chorus of the Cattle Dog Blues.

Once at home, I covered the grassy rows in mushroom compost. I planted all the rest of the seed by sowing on top, tamping down the soil, and covering it lightly with another layer, then tamping down that layer.

Our helper covered some new areas with newspaper and mulch, and we Photoshopped the rose garden by adding some newspaper and mulch where needed.

The backyard got another facelift as we pruned away more of the low branches. This project has opened up the yard to a lot more sunlight while keeping the central area shaded.

Grow a little birdhouse for your birds -
the birdhouse gourd.

Birds Love Me
God's Creation established certain rules, which when understood, make gardening much easier. One is that all the creatures work in balance with each other and tend the natural world better than we can. All we have to do is enhance their growth and they labor 24/7 on our behalf.

Birds twittered long before Twitter. They murmur with pleasure when good things are going to happen. A gardener who feeds, waters, and shelters birds will be popular with the avian population. I hear the noise level go up when I go outside. The common birds will hunt insects, dig up grubs, and devour weed seeds. Their population grows with the amount and variety of food, shelter, and water.

I have a 100 foot stretch of soaker hose, most of it suspended from the chain link fence. When I go outside to check on the plants, the birds scatter a bit. I caught some using the newspaper mulch for nest material. I am sure the wood mulch also gets carried away, too. They pay me back in the work I do, so I enjoy improving their living space and giving the water.

When I turn on the soaker hose, the birds have a large area where they can bath, drink, and preen - on top of the fence and on the ground. They like some space, so this is ideal for getting more birds involved and happy. They love the sound of dripping water, a safe place to bathe and drink, and perches for preening their feathers.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Moline Reunion 2014

Team Jackson posed with Ronald McDonald,
but we found him a bit stiff.

Sassy would not get on the bench with Ronald McDonald.
When I got a little stern with her about it, she got all cute and smiley to make up for it.

Mrs. Ichabod was inside with the Moline ladies having lunch at this excellent restaurant.
Sassy is not yawning. She is calling for Mom to come outside.

We enjoyed an evening with Linda and Dave Pearson in Geneseo,
a beautiful town of immaculately maintained homes.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sassy - Star of Stage, Screen, and Goodyear Tire

Sassy loves an adoring crowd.

I asked Goodyear if I could bring my dawg along when they put new tires on.

Sassy and I waited in the deluxe lounge while the tires were being installed. Two men from Tyson came into the lounge and sat down. They really liked Sassy, and Sassy responded at once to them.

I mentioned how smart she was. "She has her own blog and she sings the blues."

Sassy responded to the idea of singing. So I sang -

I went to a website and what did I see?
The cutest little dog with the name of Sassy.
I've got the blues (woo, woo, woo)
Sassy stuck her muzzle in the air and howled, "Woo, woo, woo."
I've got the Cattle Dog blues.
I've got the downtown, lowdown, down in the mouth Cattle Dog Blues.
Woo, woo, woo, woo. Sassy added, "Woo, woo, woo!" even louder.

The men loved it and applauded. Sassy responded by dragging her paw down my leg, which normally means more petting, more attention, more snacks.
"Second verse?" I asked her. She pawed again.

I went to the dogpark and what did I see?
A bunch of lazy dogs and they-all were pedigreed.
They got the blues (woo, woo, woo, woo). Sassy - "Woo, woo, woo."
They got the Cattle Dog blues.
They got the can't catch, can't fetch, lazy fat pedigree blues.
Woo, woo, woo, woo. Sassy - "Woo, woo, woo."

Everyone was applauding or just looking astounded.

The tires were done, and one Tyson man went to the counter where I was signing out. He said, "Write down that blog's name. We want to look it up."

Later we went for a walk at home, met a few friends through the fence, and came back to see Little White Mouse (Chihuahua) racing around and wanting to play tag. Sassy looked a bit bored and tired. LWM had a blast running circles and staging mock attacks on both of us.

Sassy is a bit of a diva. Once she has barked down a dog, she seldom gives that dog any more attention. Her idea seems to be, "Drive that dog crazy with the loudest, most intimidating barking, then never even notice the dog again." Her kelpie yips made a Great Dane sit on his haunches, put up his muzzle, and howl into the air. He seemed to calling for help.

He wants to play each day. Sassy shuns him

Anthony Weiner-dog wants to race along the fence barking. Sassy races one way, turns back, barking the whole time, then walks away. Anthony usually barks from 10 feet away - very brave.

Bob, the military vet, says, "That's my dawg. When you are tired of her, I will take her. She is so beautiful." Sassy races to meet him when he is out gardening.  Then she looks for cat treats to steal.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sassy Sue Update

Sassy enjoyed her former position to the right of the computer - at Silden Lane,
where she could grab my mouse to get attention.

She delighted in knocking the wireless mouse away
and getting some attention from her ploy.
Sassy has a slightly different position when she supervises my work on Letha Drive. She is on my left and often behind me. She uses her front paw to hook my sweater and pull me over. Naturally she grins at her success and snuffles at my ear.

Sassy's favorite part of the day is her walk. When she returns, Chris says, "Any new Sassy stories?" Sassy listens and grins while I talk about her latest exploits.

Our neighbor has a Chihuahua puppy we call Little White Mouse. The owner replaced his pit bulls with LWM. Sassy and I soon made friends with the tiny creature. This puppy runs to both of us, but plays with Sassy.

Children love Sassy because of her missing leg and welcoming personality. One problem I have is keeping her back from children playing. One time they all ran into the house screaming. Then one said, "I know Sassy." They came back out and began playing with her.

I posted earlier that she ate one girl's lunch, which was left on the ground. When the girl complained, Sassy smiled. Later Sassy really enjoyed hearing the story retold.

Sassy has a lot of sounds because of her German Shepherd/Cattle Dog genes. She talks over everything she does, usually making a point to hurry me along. If I talk too long with a neighbor, she bawls me out for being so slow. However, she is sure to collect petting from everyone she sees. She invites it by coming up to a person and extending her nose for the initial petting, wagging her tail.

If she wants a snack at night, I hear a high pitched whistle. Looking over, I see her licking her lips. I hide her extra snacks, but she knows that now. She looks up where they should be, waiting for the next one.

If she flaps her ears loudly, she usually wants to go outside.

If I miss what she wants to communicate, she switches her tail angrily and looks at me as one who has fallen from grace.

She loves attention, so it is fun to have her with us everywhere except certain errands. If she can go along on trips she is very happy, but loud when the trip takes her to a new place. Normally we go to Walmart and the post office. I can put the window down for her to communicate with people while I get things done. Her favorite position is at the wheel, which amuses everyone.

To initiate a walk, she leans into me and shows every kind of affection. Although we try to use code to talk around her, she listens for such terms as "w" for her walk, or "go" or "later." Then all peace is gone as she barks furiously about her supreme happiness.

Sassy supervises all food preparation. The same dog who is deaf to pleas about chasing a cat or squirrel will hear the rustle of a food package and investigate. If she can get an immediate tidbit, she hangs around. Otherwise she goes back to watch TV until food is served.