Whitetail Woods Regional Park in Empire Township, Minnesota
Sometimes God gives us a dog to challenge us,
and sometimes he gives us one to make us laugh.
Sometimes he gives you a dog that is adorably cute,
and he melts your heart.
And sometimes he gives you a dog that is all that and more.
That is Jasper.
He makes me laugh but challenges me more than any dog I know.
He is adorably cute, but also a wonderful nursemaid when I am sick.
He is sensitive and pig-headed and smart as a whip.
And here is why I love him.
Jasper believes that…
All balls are meant to be chewed, thrown, savored and chased.
Tennis balls taste better when soaked in a pool or rolled in sand and mud.
Tennis balls can be found everywhere despite the owner’s belief that “there can’t possibly be one here.”
Joggers and bicyclists must be chased.
People dressed up like joggers must be chased.
Walkers wearing anything that might resemble running gear must be followed closely in case they run. Then they must be chased.
Water is fun but only in moderation.
Sheep, of course, must be chased.
Anyone in a bathroom is a prisoner and can and will be forced to throw a ball.
Anyone sitting down anywhere, at any time, can be made to play ball.
One cannot use the outdoor bathroom facilities when family is there to watch. One must wait until everyone goes back inside again and then ask to be let out to use the facilities in private.
Kongs with good things inside them are good. One stolen from a sibling is even better.
Bones were meant to be stolen. What is caring if not sharing?
Food must not be wasted.
A thorough examination of the food preparation facility must be conducted every morning and evening.
No toy that contains treats inside of it is a deterrent. When all else fails, bang it on the floor. Treats will surely come out.
Costumes provided by the human can be endured if there is food involved.
When all else fails…
Look cute. It works.
Most people who know me probably think I am not a morning person and probably get up a little later in the day. But the truth is I am an early riser who likes to putz around a bit before getting ready for the day. Here is just a synopsis of our morning.
What are your mornings like with your dogs?
The sun is still in hiding but we get up.
The first order of the day? A downward dog stretch.
Butt in the air.
Cuddle time with the Shelties. A scratch behind the ears is heavenly.
Chilly morning potty break.
Check the yard for rabbits and squirrels.
Food preparation under watchful eyes.
Cupcake lies at kitchen’s door. Waiting.
Bangs from Daisy’s kennel door. She paces as she waits for her food.
Towel placed on the kitchen floor. Cupcake is a sloppy eater.
Jasper paces, then sits, as his dish is placed on the living room floor.
Daisy waits anxiously for food to come to her kennel.
She waits again for me to leave so she can eat in private.
Food gone. Inspection tours begin.
Jasper checks Daisy’s dish.
Cupcake checks Jasper’s dish.
Mom eats breakfast as Daisy slumbers at the other end of the couch.
Watchful eyes hoping for for to fall.
Repositioning of doggie bodies when food fails to come.
Mom’s computer time. Gentle snoring is heard from the other end of the couch.
Computer time ends.
Cuddle time with Daisy begins. Belly rubs are her favorite.
Soon it is shower time.
Cupcake guards the bathroom door; Jasper the bedroom.
Mom is ready for work
One more chilly potty break.
Cupcake announces to the world she is there. (One must let the world know.)
Excited little feet dance their way inside to wait for frozen Kongs before mom leaves.
Nap time later.
This past weekend my friend Emily posted a picture of her and her dog, Lilly, on a special outing together. It was their girls day out.
It brought back a lot of happy memories of my outings with Daisy. Back when I was a pet sitter, she used to ride with me on some of my pet visits. I would also take her on special outings to get some ice cream (that’s probably how she got to be 75 lbs back then!). I would buy one ice cream cone for me and one for her. Then, we would go sit in a park and watch the world go by as we enjoyed our cones and each others company.
Seeing Emily’s picture reminded me how long it has been since we’ve done something like that. Now that I have three dogs, it can be hard to get that one-on-one time with any one of them. But last night I had the opportunity to enjoy some one-on-one time with each of my dogs and it felt really good, especially with Daisy.
Since it was so cold out, I decided to switch things up a bit and bring out our doggie puzzle from Trixie and let each of the dogs have their own chance to play with it. The game is called Chess and it comes with 4 yellow cups and a board with sliding squares. Under the squares are little holes in which you can place treats. The squares also have holes in them so you can place treats in them and cover them with the cups. It requires a dog to really use their brain to figure out how to get to the treats.
I decided Daisy would be first. I set up a baby gate so Jasper and Cupcake were on one side and Daisy and I on the other. Then, I placed the game (loaded with tiny pieces of pork) on the floor. Daisy was very nervous at first, not having really played with the puzzle much before, but she was also very intrigued by the smells coming from it. Since she was nervous about what to do, I sat down on the floor near her. I placed the game in front of her, but she still seemed unsure, so I showed her some of the hidden pieces of pork and then covered them up again.
She tentatively reached out with her nose to smell one yellow cup. Then she nudged it a little. The cup started to topple over. She jumped. She went back again and nudged the cup aside and grabbed the piece of meat. It took time, but eventually, with my encouragement and revealing the treats to her from time to time, she eventually started to figure it out. And with each successive find, she became more confident.
It was so rewarding to sit next to her and work the puzzle together. We worked as a team and had so much fun in doing so.
After each round, we would just sit there and hang out, I would give her belly rubs and kisses, and she would give me nose bumps and pleading looks for more of the same. It was a very special evening. I can’t remember how many times we did this, but I think it was at least five. I think she loved our time together as much as she loved getting the treats
Afterwards, Jasper and Cupcake got their special time alone with me and we did the same thing. They seemed to enjoy it just as much as Daisy.
Having this special time together with each of my dogs makes me think that I need to do this kind of thing more often. Maybe each dog should have their special day.
What do you think? Do you have special days with your dog? If you have more than one dog, do you take time out to spend it with just one dog at a time? I would love to hear what you have to say.
For anyone who has read my blog for any period of time, you now know that my Sheltie, Jasper, has an obsession with two things: sticks and balls. If we are at the dog park he will demand I throw a stick for him over and over and over again. At home, it’s his tennis ball he wants thrown or kicked or tossed – many, many, many times.
But there is also something else Jasper has an obsession with – things that move. This includes people, dogs, bikes, skateboarders, bunnies, ducks, etc. He can be in the middle of bringing his ball back to me when he spots someone walking by the house and has to run to the fence to bark at them. He can also be barking at someone walking by and I can say “I’m gonna get your ball!” and he will run to get his ball. I like to call it the “shiny penny” syndrome or ADD.
Sometimes I laugh at how easily he can be distracted but most of the time I wonder how I can get him to be more focused. We have worked together on a wide variety of training areas, but this is one area we have yet to master. I wonder if any of you have or have had a dog that is easily distracted and what you do about it in your own home.
Do you have a dog easily distracted or who suffers from the “shiny penny” syndrome? How do you work through it? Or, how have you mastered it with your dog? I would love any ideas you have to help me with this issue.