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.

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