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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sassy Signal Intelligence

Going to the bank in her Lincoln Town Car.
She waits for me with the windows open when the weather is cool.
Everyone loves to see her at the wheel.

Sassy wants me to take her on her morning walk, before the sun is up. I would like some coffee first, so I am going to list her funny, interesting, and compelling signals used to communicate with me and manage my day.

Sassy does not want to wake up Mrs. Ichabod, so she flaps her ears. She is super-quiet in the morning and tries without success to hide her enthusiasm for a walk.

Sassy knows how to signal staff for her needs.

She looks for signs we are going. Shoes? We are going. Hat - oh, this is certain now. At the door she is ready to burst. I open it and say, "Well, let's go." She tears off down the block, runs back, jumps around, and barks happily.

On our walks Sassy must ask permission to cross a street. She is very good most of the time, but every so often I hold her head, look in her eyes, and talk to her softly about street safety. The drivers are extra courteous and some open their windows to smile at her and wave.

If Sassy wants a longer walk than I plan, she simply stops and looks at me with a big smile. "You must be kidding!"

To walk down a new street, Sassy stops, looks down that street and smiles. "Do you want to go there?" Big grin. We head down together. We found a street where all the sidewalks slope toward the street - great for drainage but difficult to walk on.

Sassy enjoys garage sales and inspects all the stuff out in the yards.

We often find friends along the route, even at 7 AM, when people are going off to work. The ones who really love Sassy call out to her. She wiggles toward them and collects the love. Our helper's wife asks, "Where is that happy bark?" Sassy lets out a series of very loud, cheerful barks. Yesterday Sassy rolled over for a tummy rub.

Our Army Ranger neighbor adores Sassy and buys her treats. He used to say, "Get out of the cat food!" Sassy would munch a few and grin. Instead of faking guilt, as many dogs do, she enjoys her little pranks. Sassy has been chatting up the Army Cat for three years now, the same one who chased a Pit Bull back across the street. They are now friends.

If Sassy sees Army Ranger from a distance, she trots over and begins a special howl, "Arrr, arrr, arr."
When we spend too much time talking, Sassy barks orders at me. I ask, "Do you have an appointment? Are you in a hurry?" She barks, "Yes! Yes!"

In contrast, when we see John and his wife, I sit down with them and Sassy takes up her guard dog duties. She sits facing the houses and streets, listens to everything, and changes position to have a better scan of the area.

At home Sassy will rest, ask to go out, and collect some attention from time to time. If I am in the middle of a sentence, she drags her claw slowly down my spine. I want to finish the sentence and she wants immediate action. "Let me finish!" The claw is pressed deeper.

Every night she says goodnight to us by sticking a paw out. I talk to her and pet her while she grins. Then she sticks a paw out at Mrs. I - "Your turn." If I say "Tuck and roll," Sassy will roll over onto her back for a tummy rub, grinning. I am supposed to pet her with both hands and talk to her. Chris is also expected to pet her and talk to her. If not, Sassy whips her head around and looks at her, expecting more. I add to this by saying, "Come on. Three hands petting her, two people talking to her." Once Sassy's lovey batteries are charged up for the night she goes to the foot of the bed and sleeps next to Chris.

Sassy is very expressive and uses a lot of different sounds. Army Ranger said, "I never saw such a talkative dog." Sometimes she uses her Cattle Dog voice, with Dingo Dog yelps, singing, yodeling, clucking (to dog friends), and so forth. The yodel is her warning sound. Some animals on TV make her a little alarmed, so she barks at them. Some get warned away - not the same bark. When she sees a herd on TV, she issues a warbling "Woo woo woo woo."

That was especially funny when we stopped at the vet's office for some medicine. Sassy stayed in the car with the window down. Usually she barks at me and grins when I turn around. At the vet's, she stuck her head out the window and warbled "Woo woo woo woo."

Her ears enhance all her expressions. When she wants something and I am not sure what, I ask, "Outside?" She runs to the door. "Treat?" Her ears respond like two exclamation points. "Walk?" She goes crazy at that suggestion.

She loves the bank where we always withdraw one doggy treat. If they do not pay attention to her as they ought (new tellers) she barks her loud German Shepherd voice into the PA system. That wakes up everyone in the bank. It is not a request but a command and works well. I thought it would annoy a new man there. He came over and grinned at her and said, "What a smart dog." She got three treats that day. Her favorite teller is a woman who adores dogs and Sassy especially. That usually means three treats. I chat it up, "What's this in the envelope, Sassy? Oh, treats! Thank you."

Best of all, one UOP driver has a big MilkBone for Sassy. We do not always get him, but Sassy knows his truck engine. She goes crazy before the truck stops. One package - one big MilkBone. He turns around at the end of the cul-de-sac, so I wave at him as he leaves the street. By that time Sassy has the MilkBone in her paws, sitting in the middle of the front yard, where she can watch for poachers who might take her treasure.

Our granddaughter fell backwards, laughing and not hurt.
When I got the camera, Sassy stepped into the photo to grin at all the fun.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Downton Sassy Sue

After rain on Tuesday and before our heavy showers on Wednesday, I went out side and cut all the KnockOut roses by 50%. They were already nearly six feet tall and were finishing a bloom cycle. By cutting them back harshly, before plenty of rain, I was converting all the bush energy to budding instead of finishing up their blooms with seeds.

A few other roses needed some trimming.

All the Father' Day roses are blooming now - in a circle around the maple tree in front. They are various colors because Gurney's does not guarantee what they send when they are $5 bare root roses.

The same is true of bulbs. Those who want the lowest prices get a rainbow collection of tulips, but tulips are far more impressive with a massive group of one color, or a color combination.

Weather Drama
Last night's rain meant black skies while the sun was shining and cloudbursts alternating with steady rain. Tuesday's rain was enough, and Wednesday's rain was way too much by itself.

The weather map for today says that we will have a big thunderstorm at 1 PM. Two different storms on radar seem to be coming from the West and up from Texas.

The birds ate frantically yesterday, even in the rain. The Jackson EZ Bird Swing often had a bird sitting there to stay out of the rain. The swing is under the eaves. Sharon Lovejoy, I believe, suggested that birdhouses are good shelters for birds in cold weather, so I may put some spare old shelves out under the eaves for a dry roost.

Downton Sassy
The key image for Downton Abbey is the bell being rung to call a servant.

Sassy Sue decided to call for her servants by dragging her claws across the maple table near the bed. At first she did that when I was not looking. I pretended to be shocked when I found the source of the strange noise and she was a bit intimidated. When she saw that I was laughing, that became her little joke.

Now Sassy routinely uses her call system to notify me of her needs. Of course, she has these other tools:

  • The neck cuddle means I identified what she wanted.
  • Licking her lips and looking toward the kitchen. Ears pop up at the sound of "Food?"
  • Perching on the corner of the bed, ready to take a walk.
  • Drooping on the bed, still waiting for the walk.
  • The Bad Daddy speech, a series of loud sad barks, is always from a failure to walk her on time.

When we are sharing the joke together, it is so much fun.

The landscaper living nearby said, "I never saw a dog that talked so much."

Several times Sassy has pouted. Once I gave a long speech about her not wanting to turn around or acknowledge us. She finally flipped over and grinned, looking for a tummy rub. This week she got a shampoo outside and a much-needed comb out. She refused to look at me that night, but made up for it the next night.

Sassy normally goes to us separately for hugs and kisses before she goes to the foot of the bed to sleep.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sassy Signals

Your mouse is mine now.
 I need a tummy rub.

We were warned that Sassy's Cattle Dog nature would mean a talkative dog, but she is more than a little talkative. Sassy is so expressive that we laugh at all her signals.

Cats and dogs will use a paw to get attention. Sassy has levels  of paw action and commands:

  • The gentle prod - are you thinking about my food yet?
  • A more insistent prod - food, I already mentioned this politely.
  • Slow tail rotation - fair warning that someone is not doing his job.
  • Fast tail rotation - now I am really unhappy.
  • Tail rotation on my arm - stop on the computer and take care of me.
  • Holding down one of my arms - no more computer, stop and pet me. I start laughing at the power of her personality and leg strength. She laughs too. I used a wired mouse since she got so good at knocking my wireless mouse into hard to reach places, laughing.
  • Loud tail thumping, ears back, eyes squinting - I mean it!
  • Dropping Mrs. I off at the doctor's - Oww-woo-woo-woo. You forgot her! Sassy is quite serious about this until she learns that we will come back to get Mrs. I.
  • Resting up against me on the bed, facing me, smiling - I have a job for you soon - walking.

After our granddaughter tumbled backwards, no harm done,
Sassy got herself into the posed picture.

Sassy knows that a bark into the bank's drive-through speakers will get her treats and a big smile. The tellers grin at her and talk about what a smart dog she is. The one who did not smile - no longer working there.

Sassy really loves women, who almost always fuss over her. Once she spots a new friend, she walks up to say hello. If the woman starts complimenting her and petting her, Sassy lays her ears back, points her face forward for kissing, and wags her entire body.

Sassy is tentative with small children. Her loud, happy barks startle them. She is careful around them and always wants to be the center of their attention. If she knows the children, she settles down in the shade and watches the yard.

If I talk too long...
Bark! Very loud and insistent.
Are you in a hurry?
Do you have an appointment somewhere?
She is a little more inclined to rest for a bit, but she has favorite places to visit. and she is not going to wait long.

When Sassy would not sit with Ronald McDonald's statue on a bench,
she grinned to make up with me.

Friday, January 30, 2015

One of Those Perfect Days with Sassy

Yesterday was so much fun. We took Sassy Sue a few miles south to downtown Fayetteville, where I delivered a number of books to the Dickson Street Bookstore, one of those magical places with endless rows of books, every topic imaginable. Previously I noticed their affinity for some of the books I had to offer.

The book buyer is right out of central casting. He is slight with long, grey hair tied back into a ponytail. He looked over my sets of books, one bought 50 years ago at The Source Bookstore in Davenport, Iowa (still run by the founder's granddaughter).

We arrived at a price inside while Sassy and Mrs. Ichabod waited in the limo outside, on the sidewalk in front of the store. Yes, I had permission to pull up there. I waved the check at the staff as I left and asked,"Is this check good?" They laughed and invited me to cash it right away.

Downtown Fayetteville is college-town, home of the Razorbacks. We "call the hogs" at Walmart meetings. Hog and pig are common business names in the area, including the Harrison Oncology Group - H.O.G. The University of Arkansas is the city's main business, I am sure.

Our next stop was familiar. Chris loves one bead store, which is two doors away from The Little Bread Company, one of those high quality bakeries, which I love. In-between is one of the few barbershops left in America. The barber is a woman who only cuts men's hair. Mine was close to a Trump comb-over in the wind. so I went inside. Sassy waited in the car.

Soon I had Sassy with me, going up to the bead store, almost next door. Sassy was welcomed inside and charmed everyone. When she grew tired of that store we went outside to explore. She knew the block from previous trips. Walking ahead without a leash, she turned back and grinned at me, "This is so much fun." The college kids welcomed her at the outdoor cafe, and we walked to the back, where our Columbus friends ate with us during a visit.

Back in Springdale we drove through at the bank. Sassy's favorite teller was there. eager to give out treats. Sassy got one for starters. We talked a bit as I cashed the check. Sassy gave one loud, commanding bark, and the teller saluted at attention, giving her a second treat. We laughed about Sassy's bossiness, and Sassy got her third treat on the way out.

Once I made sure Sassy got her treat and drove away without the cash, which I left in the tray. They thought that was pretty funny when I returned a few minutes later.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Funny Sassy Stories

Christmas lasts until the Day of Epiphany, Sassy reminds you.

Sassy is getting older, but that only makes her more skilled in managing her household. Yesterday she began wagging her tail...more like thumping her tail against the bed. She looked at me, "You know what I want."

It was time for her walk, so I suited up and grabbed her leash. Our current deal is she goes without her leash on our block only. When we get back to Letha, she stops moving until I take the leash off.
She rewards my correct responses with smiles.

I did some grilling and we were going to save bones for later, since Sassy gets scraps from us and meat juice from the tray. I was cleaning up when I heard "crunch, crunch" in the living room. Sassy is not one to steal food, but this time she quietly took a bone from my plate when my back was turned. I invited her outdoors to hide the evidence of her crime and not implicate my lax supervision.

She knows how to work the whole crowd when Team Jackson is over for a cookout. Afterwards she sleeps all day.

Sassy loves car trips and knows our stops quite well. She saves her happy bark for the turn into our neighborhood.

When I buy something at the meat market, she inspects the bag with her nose. She holds it over the bag and takes an olfactory inventory of everything inside. She knows all our familiar routes, so she gets yowly when we head into the industrial part of Springdale for the meat market.

The sad look is good for starting guessing games.
The correct answer is - "Let's go for a walk."

Sassy assumes her job is to watch over us. When our helper came to the door at the end of his work, Sassy headed outside and set up a watch of our cul-de-sac. She carefully scanned everything going on, something she does if I sit and visit with neighbors on our walks. However, if I stand and talk to someone, she soon begins barking at me to get going. "Do you have an appointment somewhere, Sassy?"

"Bark, bark."

"Are you in a hurry today?"


Sassy knows every sign of a potential walk, and she observes carefully. She hears me quietly sticking my feet into loafers. A walk! So I was brushing my teeth and she appeared in the bathroom doorway, laughing. I said, "You guessed it." She disappeared for a few minutes and came back, laughing again. "OK, Sassy, let's go."

Then the barking began and did not stop until we were outside the door.

Sassy has the intelligence and independence of her parents - a Cattle Dog and a German Shepherd. She is remarkably intuitive, a mind-reader and emotion-reader.

Our grandaughter tilted the easy-chair backwards and laughed.
I asked Danielle to hold the post for a photo.
Sassy walked into the frame to photobomb Dani.