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

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Beware! The Tides of March!

Monday, March 14, 2022

Sassy Teaches This Old Dog a New Trick

 Norma A. Boeckler took this photo at the dog park when she visited us.

Sassy had trouble jumping up on the bed as she got older. She could do it most of the time, but she liked being encouraged. I even put my foot near her tail to encourage her. She did her, "Rar, rar, rar!" warning bark but did not mean anything by it. She is known for being gentle but very loud.

She kept making fake attempts at jumping up one night, and I got angry. Then I sat down and petted her, telling her how much we all loved her. She gave me a gentle little lick of affection.

 Sassy jumped, ran, and fetched better than the four-legged dogs.

That - I learned to my sorrow and laughter - was the beginning of the lovey needed for the jump. She no longer jumped for any reason but pushed her chest up against the bed, looked up, and grinned at me for a lovey. That had to be fairly wordy and effusive in language about her many friends, her gentleness, and her love for everyone. 

So that immediately became a requirement. Her fake run turned into parking her chest against the bed. When we took off the legs of the bed - for her - she continued pushing her chest against bed and grinning. I took that as the new expectation, but I was wrong.

Soon Sassy began to park her chest against the corner of the bed. I thought maybe she was saving time. No. After that was done, she pretended to get her fun going, but pushed her chest in the same place again. She began giving me really big grins for this. (I gave her an M.A. - honoris causa - in adult education - for training me so well. The honorary doctorate will come later, I am sure.)

Tonight I tried to get her to jump after the first lovey, at the corner of the bed. She wiggled around and stopped with her chest against the bed again - big grin. She likes a longer bout of petting for the second time, and she wants an elaborate discussion of her merits, friends, and awesome reputation. I get a second gentle lick for being such a good student at her academy.

 People loved seeing Sassy in the back seat, with me as the chauffer, in the Lincoln Town Car. It was a beautiful, smooth, dependable car that went 205,000 miles for us and then provided transportation for a friend's mother.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Sassy Helps Alaska Go Back Home

I was walking Sassy a bit late this morning when a big black dog met me in the middle of the road (no traffic) and began hugging me. "Alaska! Are you out again? Let's go home."

Alaska, full of energy and love, loped in circles around me and came back to hug me some more.

"Come on Sass, Alaska has to go home. Alaska, I will be your advocate, your protector." Sassy was audibly annoyed and barked some displeasure.

We were close to the house, so I rang the bell, and out came one of the staff. He said, "Oh yeah, he took off running this morning."  Alaska went inside. They love Sassy, and I love Alaska and Atlas.

Once we got to the turn-around, Pat and John needed a lift to the bank and auto repair. We went back and got the Voyager and took them both places. I wanted some Walmart vegetables, so I got them the milk they needed.

The errand worked out well, and we came back. Sassy got lots of attention in the car, from petting where she lies down, between the front seats. When we drove onto some new streets for car repair estimates, Sassy spoke up with her special "I don't know where you are going" cracked bark. It is pitiful and sad -- and very handy for getting attention.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Games Our Pets Teach Us To Play


Sassy got snarly about needing to go outside, so I obliged her. She came back in, had breakfast, and fell asleep. We had a freeze last night, so the house feels like a walk-in freezer at Tyson's. She decided the bed-warmer was better than the carpeting for her beauty rest.

The Lutheran Librarian says, "Our pets teach us the games they want to play." So true. Someone was chiding me about "still helping Sassy up on the bed." No, that is a game she invented when the legs were still on the bed. She could easily jump up on the bed but she liked to make a game of it, sitting there and smiling at me. Making the jump got harder and I did cheers to get her running up to the bed and jumping. That was so much fun that one day she made 10 attempts in a row. I sat on the bed and petted her. (That is the old part of her game.) She wanted pre-jump petting after that.

We took the legs off to make it easier for Sassy. She continued the tickle jump game. I had to nudge her with my foot to make an attempt. She snarled and barked at the offending foot and made the jump. I cheered and she barked triumphantly, "Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark." Her six-fold bark means she is really proud of herself.

I had to do this while on the phone. "Are you still spoiling her, even though the legs are off the bed?" I had to explain, "She loves the game, so I have to go along with it."

Likewise, Sassy was craving attention when I was on the phone with the Lutheran Librarian. I explained my extra duties while talking, and he said, "My cat is in my arms demanding attention, too. I understand."

 Sassy amazed people with her ability to follow directions at the dog park. The more they cheered her ball chasing and catching, placing it gently in my hand, the more crowd cheers she earned. She is more sedate now and more likely to give orders than obey them. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Advanced Training from Sassy Sue, The Three-Legged Wonder-Dog


Sassy began having trouble jumping onto the bed because of her cataracts and age. She needed the light on and she enjoyed being encouraged. At first she barked against the tickle, when I tried to get her going by touching her. But she decided she liked the tickle jump, especially after she trained me to give her a heavy dose of affection before the jump.

Sassy's signal for affection is to sit down, look up, and smile, as if to say, "I am ready for petting and gushing praise." She has blocked teens from walking down the sidewalk, grinning and facing them, her rear leg down, expecting praise and petting.

I was getting tired of helping her jump up on the bed numerous times, so we took off the legs of the bed, giving her an easy step up. The dog ramp was anathema to her, and she did half-hearted half-jumps to show me how much she would avoid the ramp.

After a little encouragement, Sassy learned it was easy to hop up into her bed, as long as I stayed in my place.

Success? Almost.

She missed the commotion and drama of the tickle jump, so I do an imitation of the drum roll, raise my voice, and cheer when she makes the jump. Praise and pet time is first, so I did that this morning.

The funniest part of my advanced training was seeing her walk up to the bed a few days ago, form the friendly triangle with her bottom on the floor, and grin up at me. "You know I love praise and petting." She runs back to gain speed, though no necessary, listens for the dramatic sound effects, then climaxes the jump with five or six loud barks.

"You did it, Sassy!" Bark! Bark!

"You made the tickle jump!" Bark! Bark! Bark!

 "OK! I will let you drive my Town Car."
The ears back show her great happiness.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sassy Is Still Teaching This Old Dog (Me) New Tricks


As I told Ranger Bob today, Sassy taught this old dog (me) a new trick. For 10 years she has always gone to the treat room, the bathroom, for a treat and a stay while no one else was in the house. 

Yesterday, I got a Pup-eroni out and said, "Time for the treat room, Sassy." She did not budge. I walked over to her spot on the bed and hustled her off. I herded her toward the treat room and she dodged me to go back to the bed.

She has made a big deal about jumping up on the bed, even with the legs off to make it shorter and easier. Several tries normally end up with a lot of celebratory "Woofs!" However, she just walked up to the bed and hopped onto it. No drama queen business - she meant it.

The clincher was this - she turned her ears backward to show that was her last word. I first experienced that with Sacky, who was 100% Cattle Dog, not 50% like Sassy. When I told Sacky that I would not throw her toy (a squeaking foot) unless she brought it all the way back to my hands, she turned her ears back the same way. After making some agonized noises, leading up to a shudder and a Whoop!, Sacky delivered the toy into my hands. 

But Sacky could be immovable at times. So this was Sassy the Cattle Dog and German Shepherd, laying down the gauntlet, here I sit, I can do no other. I said, "OK girl, leave everything alone." She did, and I gave her a second chance today. No problems.

Sassy rounds up our neighbors' two dogs, Atlas and Alaska, puppies known for their size and mischief. Sassy found Atlas in our yard again, and we began herding the puppy back to her home. The dad came out and said, "We heard you calling Atlas and I said - not again!"

Atlas was repeating her prancing around in circles as we moved toward home base. We had some laughs over the two dogs' behavior, so the owner said, "I'll get Alaska." With Atlas in the yard, Alaska came bounding out of the house, licking my hand, asking Sassy for chase, coming back, jumping up for a kiss on my face. So much fun! Time magazine, not good for anything now, once labeled dogs The Eighth Wonder of the World.

 We were included in Sassy's photo-shoot. Ranger Bob got his own 10 x 14 fancy framed photo. Sassy explodes in joy when he phones or knocks on the door. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Sassy's New Bed - Outside on the Former Berry Patch

Four times we went after the blackberry patch, twice hacking away the growth and twice putting a blanket of mulch down to discourage a rebirth. I had a helper, which kept the finishing date within this calendar year.

Sassy tells me when she wants to go outside, often after her meal. She often stays out a long time, which may be her time checking over the yard and neighbors. She never stops being a guard dog.

Sassy loved the harmless spill. She walked into the view to enhance the fun.

She used to sit behind the garbage barrels, hidden from sight. I got used to that, but ever since the restoration of that berry patch, I find her sunning herself on top of the thick layer of mulch, newspaper, and cardboard. The Sassy Patch is sun-soaked with some shade from the house and tree. The patch is always warm and drier than the rest of the backyard.

Doubtless she also likes to scratch up her next. I said to her recently, "Sassy, you have been scratching up your nest on the bed for 10 years. Isn't it soft enough yet?" She grinned, came over to me, and kissed my face." How does one discipline such a sly companion and mischief-maker?