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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Management by Sassy

Our granddaughter and Sassy posed for this one,
after the toying with the chair and spilling.
Both enjoyed the fun.
I felt the gentle tapping on my ankle. Tap, tap. Sassy was trying to tell me something, more like, "Time for breakfast." Perhaps I could sleep a little longer. I ignored the tapping. Next she began to clean my big toe off, banishing sleep forever.

Sassy knows how to manage her staff, with gentleness, humor, and an occasional sharp bark to indicate urgency. She should coach Notre Dame football.

She knows how to be quiet when Mrs. I is still asleep:

  • The steady stare tells me I have work to do - for her. 
  • Licking her jaws makes it clear she wants her morning meal.
  • A high-pitched but soft monotone means something is left undone, such as her morning walk.
I can ignore the walk command when I am writing, but she droops over the corner of the bed, as if giving up on all the delights of the world and resigning herself to boredom.

If I move about the house, she plants herself in my way, so she can give me the expectant or accusing stare. If one does the work, the other is used.

She has mastered the assumptive close that salesmen use with great success:
  1. You touched your socks. We must be leaving soon.
  2. Brushing your teeth? Let's go.
  3. Looking out the back door. No rain. The birds can wait for their food. The front door is this way.
  4. You can pet me while reading the news, but you need your morning walk.
The funniest part of her management style is the insider's humor. She no longer has an antique table to scratch to get my attention, so she scratches in the air and grins at me.

If I guess she wants a treat like Pupperoni bits, she grins as if I am looking smarter than usual.

The ultimate for her is Frosty Paws ice cream She expects some every night. After supper, around 7 PM we hear one high-pitched "Mmmmmm." 

Mrs, I - "What's wrong with Sassy."

Me - "I think I know."

Mrs. I - "Not time for the T yet, is it?"

Sassy watches us back and forth, listening for the clue. We try to be obscure, because mentioning what she wants is a one-sided concession. She will get it - fast. Any verb or noun suggesting her desires will be answered with confirming noises, barks, smiles, and other rewards. Her greatest is a gentle kiss on the cheek, which is not given often - so it means a lot.

Norma Boeckler's Photofunia portrait of Sassy.

Me - "Is it Frosty Paws time?" Sassy goes into a series of faces that blend pain and ecstasy - no loud barking like a walk when everyone is up. I get the plate for her, and Mrs. I dispenses it.

Some will think we are loading her with canine ice cream. But no, I buy the Great Value ice milk from Walmart in tiny cups.She gets about one teaspoon per night and enjoys it so much.

As I wrote earlier, Frosty Paws/Great Value was supposed to replace her Pupperoni treat, but she cleverly urged us into Pupperoni serving as her final treat. Then she falls asleep, content in his knowledge that we understand and obey her wishes. We use training bits, because dogs count the treats rather than the calories. Four little training bits are relished like a feast.

Sassy loves affection, but she sets it up in the most interesting way. Mrs. I cannot get her to move closer for petting. Nor can I just get her over by calling her. I have to pat my hands together softly and say, "Sassy, move, move." She gets up right away and flops down according to her petting needs. She raises a front paw and rolls onto her side to show she wants a chest rub. She makes sure that both of us are petting her and talking to her at once. If Mrs I gets lax, Sassy whips her head around as if to say, "Is your arm broken? Keep petting me." I join by saying, "She expects at least three hands petting her at once and both of us admiring her."

Sassy always looks for new friends instead of alienating old ones. She has he mail carrier calling her by name, the UPS driver giving her large Milk Bones. She has learned to be quiet and not bark loudly when meeting a new toddler to befriend. She is cautious about intimidating adults now, but her whole body wiggles when someone clearly wants to touch her and talk to her.

At the dog park, no dog could compete with Sassy in catching and bringing back the ball,
but all the dogs wanted that magic orange ball that made everyone clap for her.

One little girl is at eye level when Sassy is on all three legs. The girl petted Sassy the whole time I talked roses with her father. The girl was reaching up to pat the top of Sassy's head, and our gentle dog showed how quiet and affectionate she could be.

Rescue dogs may be especially loving, but their lucky owners may be especially appreciative. People thank us for taking care of her. I always say, "We are lucky to have such a remarkable, gentle dog."

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