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

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sassy - The Expert in Adult Education

 Norma Boeckler took this photo at the dog park. Sassy gave me a special kiss on the cheek whenever I said, "Let's see the dog park."

Dogs were certainly created to be companions, and Sassy Sue is the epitome of man's best friend. She could have been shy, which is typical of Cattle Dogs, but she looks for friends everywhere. She is protective, smart, and easily trained - like German Shepherds - but also reverses roles and trains us.

When I tell people she is very special, they often respond with "My dog is very special too." I ask, "Does your dog have a blog?" That leaves them stammering.

I teach adult education most of the year, and I find Sassy a natural in her abilities to train others, especially me. Most dogs fall into natural habits, such as how they respond to certain activities, orders, food, and fun.

Sassy is unpredictably volatile. One night she will wiggle up to us on the bed for affection before going to sleep. That can include falling sideways into me and giving me kisses while being petted. But she can also turn her back to us and whimper about being neglected. Then we repeat the yanking drama.
"Come here for some love, Sassy."
Bark, bark.
"If you don't come here, I will have to yank you."
I touch Sassy and pretend to pull her 1/2 inch. Her eyes bulge.
"OK. Move! Move!"
She gets up and moves toward us one inch.
"Oh come on now, Sassy. You can do better than that."
She gets up close and collects on petting, compliments, laughter, and scritches. Animals are bad in spelling and grammar, so scritches are scratches on her forehead, chin, and ears.

This morning Patricia came out to see us at 7 AM. She loves to see us, and her yard is where Sassy looks for treats. When we leave, Pat is supposed to get some love. Sassy will be affectionate one day and indifferent another. This morning Sassy kissed both of Pat's hands and stayed for a third round of kisses, smiling shyly. We laughed at her change of heart. The last time, a few days ago, Sassy refused to show any response.

If we have guests, Sassy jumps into their bed and checks them over before letting them sleep. She has learned not to force herself on people, but she never forgets a friend. Anyone who loves Sassy can expect a morning hello, too.

Sassy's ears and eyes are very expressive, and she watches our expressions closely. The paw in the air is designed to make me laugh, because that is her mock sign of distress, to get attention. It could be used on the nearby metal shelf, but simply waving it in the air - at an angle - is enough to signal a priority request. Yes, I know dogs and pets lift a paw for "moar" - "moar food, moar pets." But this pawing of the air came out of her discovery that scratching the antique table - and then the replacement shelf - would get a fake reaction of horror. That startled and scared her at first, but when she realized I was having fun, it became her little signal with a mischievous smile.

Sometimes the evening quiet is disturbed by her broken-hearted barks. "What's wrong with Sassy?" Christina asks.

"Her staff has disappointed her. She is not angry, just disappointed. Did I forget something?" I ask as if I know nothing.

"Frosty Paws?" Sassy's eyes light up and her ears seem to grow in size and receptivity. Her reactions are varied:

  1. More broken-hearted barking, because we forgot.
  2. Expressions of delight and fun. 
  3. Melting over the corner of the bed and looking toward the kitchen with great sadness and longing.

She is willing to go to sleep after one teaspoon of ice cream, but it is never truly bedtime for her until she gets that tidbit.

 Sassy is always ready for a ride somewhere.

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