Following From Out Front

Mom and I have managed to reach a pretty good understanding.  Not bad after 12 years (which may not be long to your eyes but to a dog, well, it can be a lifetime).

See, we have long struggled over the whole alpha thing.  By my nature, I am an alpha girl.  If I were a superhero, I would be ALPHA*Betty*Sling-some-Spaghetti*Toss-in-a-Cookie-or-Two*ROUFFF!!!  Ha!  And she thought she was the one with poetical inclinations.  My superpower would be a sonic-boom-bark that would immediately slay all foes.  They would fall at our feet with bleeding ears, tongues lolling out of their mouths, and cookies spilling from their pockets.

When we lived back in our house that stayed in one place, things were pretty darned good.  I had a gigantic, fenced-in yard and could bark all I wanted at anyone who walked down our street.  I was really talented and managed to scare every one of them away.

Once we moved into this tiny house that rolls all over the place, Mom abruptly changed the rules.  She didn’t even apologize for how unfair that was.  No longer was I allowed to bark at people and, the cruelest part, I wasn’t even allowed to bark at dogs who walked right by our house.  When walking on the leash, I was expected to stay by her side and not even crack a tiny toothy growl whenever we passed another dog.  Ugh!  It was torture–for us both.  My natural inclinations were being strangled, and Mom’s struggle to constantly be boss-over-me stressed her out big time.

But now we’ve come to our understanding.  It probably helps that her show “The Dog Whisperer” comes on our TV every Saturday morning and she faithfully watches.  She has a major puppy-crush on the show’s star, Cesar Millan (don’t tell her I told you that).  She has taken a lot of tips from him and says the best one is the importance of consistency.  I must say, she is doing pretty good with that lately, although Cesar might give her just a mediocre grade when it comes to the strength of her alpha-ness.  Me, I give her an A-plus and may even share a cookie.

It’s all a balance thing, you see.  Mom would likely argue otherwise, but she is about as ferocious as a jelly bean.  So it is my job to protect us, and I think she has finally come around to recognize that and allow me more freedom to follow that instinct.  After all, I have great instincts, a tremendous sniffer, and excellent ears.  She lets me bark at strangers who come up to our door and at doggies who walk by our house, but once she checks out the situation and decides “they are allowed,” I have to stop barking.  Ok, that’s a compromise I can swallow.

On our long walks, Mom lets my leash out as far as it will go and I can pretend I am off-leash.  I make it a point to always stay ahead of her.  But when she gives the leash a good tug and clicks her tongue, it is my signal to come back to her side.  Usually it is because a car is coming or a dog is approaching.  So I go back to be her protector.  Once the nuisance is safely past, I take my rightful place back out front.

When we walk by other doggies, I am super-alert that the other guy doesn’t pull a fast one, and as long as they behave over on their side of the road, I can usually keep my cool, too.  There is still an occasional (lucky) idiot, though, who is off-leash and comes running up to us.  I do not let them get too close before I go into Sling-some-Spaghetti mode and Mom has to hold me back while yelling for their people to come get their stupid dog.  Fortunately nobody has gotten hurt yet, but that’s not for lack of trying!  Darned leash.

Anyways, I am happy that Mom is allowing me to lead in the ways I lead best.  And that she is leading in the ways she leads best.  She sets the course and manages the larger navigation points.  I, like any great superhero, forge ahead, stretching to limits beyond.  We are a good team and our rolling household has peace.  At the end of the day, that is what counts.  Well, that and cookies.

The Bullheaded Truth

Sooooo…  I had to sneak onto the computer tonight while Mom is sleeping.  AMAZing what doggie paws can do when they are motivated.  I simply could not let Mom’s last post stand without tossing in a few nuggets of the truth as I see it.  After all, my reputation is at stake, and I don’t take that lightly.

Speaking of nuggets, oh my dogness!  We stayed at our friends’ house last week in Texas.  They have a ranch with a bunch of cows and lots of open land and fresh air and all that stuff.  More importantly, they had loads and loads of cookies!  The lady, Carol (her name is the same as my mom’s), would toss them to me here-there-and-everywhere.  They seemed to mysteriously drop out of her sleeves as I followed her around.

Carol and John (the man of the house) made me and my mom feel totally welcome and at home.  They gave me a gigantic dog bed to lounge around in while I visited the big house and wasn’t snarfing up cookies.  They stuffed my mom full of loads of good dinners and desserts.  Mom worried that she would pop out of her pants soon.  I am lucky.  I don’t wear pants.

Unfortunately, we hit a rough spot one night.  I was enjoying my role as queen of the party when Carol and John’s dog, Ashley, showed up at the back door.  I saw her looking in through the window and something inside me just snapped.  I charged and attacked!  The window between us prevented me from doing any damage, but she did run off fast.  That girl was one lucky dog!

Mom got all stressed out over my reaction, but John came to my defense, explaining that the best defense is a good offense.  Yup, Mom, listen to John.  He’s a smart fella.  That’s all it was.  I had to make sure there would be no trouble from that big dog.  She may have looked innocent enough, but I wasn’t gonna take any chances that she might have something sneaky up her sleeve… and I’m not talking cookies!  Heck, I might have had to share my cookie drops with her…  Or the doggie queen bed…  Or my mom!!!

So, Mom, please stop saying that I am neurotic and alpha-obsessed.  I may be a tad insecure, at the worst, but what do you expect?  I love my mom the best and I just want to know that she loves me the best, and that it stays that way.

I love it when we are on a long road-trip day and I look up at her and give her my biggest, wettest, tongue-lolling smile.  She laughs out loud and calls me the best road-doggie in the world.  I love it when we get out of our little house and discover new smells, new sights, and new critters.  I love it when we snuggle up on her bed before sunrise and at nap time.  She rubs my tummy and I keep her warm, leaving behind a blanket of fur to insulate her until the next time I am allowed back in her bed.

Yes, we struggle sometimes over who is boss.  Okay, okay, we struggle a lot.  But isn’t that what friends do?  Butt some heads!  Win some, lose some…  Give and take…

She has her job, and I have mine.  I am her best friend, and she is mine.

Call of the Wild

A pack of coyotes (note proper pronunciation in previous post) hosted a lunatics ball outside our RV the other night, and Dawny was their guest of honor.  We are back visiting our friends, Carol and John, at their ranch in north Texas.  These coyotes were emboldened because the ranch watchdog, Ashley, moved inside the house to hide from a line of severe thunderstorms that took its sweet time rolling through the neighborhood.

Ashley is boss.  Except during severe weather.  Then she is simply wise.  She takes cover by the couch, under her master and mistress’s feet, and won’t stir until her own internal radar gives the ok.

As this storm moved in, Carol and John were monitoring their weather apps and communications from the National Weather Service.  John has been a ham radio operator since he was a boy.  He is part of a network of ham operators across the country who are trained, certified, and equipped to help local and national authorities through all sorts of emergency events.  When other communication systems break down or are overloaded in times of disaster, ham radio can still get through.  Ahhh, the power of simplicity, ingenuity, and community!

We were lucky.  No hail or tornadoes assailed us directly, although there was lots of damage in the vicinity.  Fortunately there were no deaths like last week when five flamingos and a pelican were killed by hail at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Our biggest challenge of the night was managing Dawny and her incredibly neurotic behavior around other dogs.  The last time we visited, Dawny decided she owned the ranch.  She was aware of Ashley’s presence, but Ashley–being the low-key, confident, ranch-dog that she is–pretty much ignored my high-strung, alpha-obsessed poochie.

Well, giving wide berth across the yard while casting the evil eye and growling under one’s breath is one thing.  Now they were going to have to occupy the same house.  Things got off to a hard start when Ashley showed up at the back door upon the first rumble of thunder.  Dawny saw her through the glass, charged, and attacked.  Yikes!  Poor Ashley.  She probably wondered what she had done to deserve such a greeting.  Fortunately, the glass held.

When the weather devils outside made Ashley bold enough to return to face the devil inside, I held Dawny firmly in the next room so that she could see Ashley enter, settle down on her blanket at the foot of the couch, and go to sleep.  To her credit, Dawny didn’t bark her fool head off.  But listening to her cry and whine and swallow and strangle while suppressing her true feelings was excruciating.

Dawny simply could not calm down.  We took her for a short walk under the wicked skies and then put her in the garage, where she would be safe if the weather turned really ugly, and Ashley and the rest of us would be shielded from her incomprehensible angst.  The weather crisis passed, and Dawny and I went back to the RV.

Shortly after settling in, I heard insane yipping and yapping and howling just outside.  Coyotes.  Having a blast.  Tearing up the rug.  Singing and dancing around like maniacs.  If they had matches (and opposable thumbs), I imagined they would not hesitate to set us alight and sing around the bonfire like a bunch of wild indians.

This did not bother Dawny one bit.  In fact, I think their raucous song struck a familiar chord, harmonizing with those bass notes thrumming deep in her gut–the ones that her momma keeps trying to beat out of her (figuratively, of course).  For she is, at heart, a wild child.  Alpha girl.  Boss of the world.  An untrained, whirling dervish straining to break free from a civilizing leash.

Just watch out if you’re a flamingo standing in her path.

P.S.  Renaldo has returned.

(Photo is of the lovely ranch honcho, Ashley.)