Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resorting to Dog Trickery

It hasn’t stopped raining all day. Generally, I rather like rainy days but I prefer them when I can stay home, be lazy, listen to the rain and snuggle with the dogs. Unfortunately, today was not one of those days and, instead, I had to venture out into the wet landscape to go to work as usual.

The pups don’t like rainy days. It’s actually quite funny to see them. They get so excited when they get up in the mornings and I let them outside. They run out the back door and then…they stop. You can almost hear their little legs grinding to a halt as they realize it’s raining.

The unfortunate part is that they generally turn around and come back inside. This is fine if they’ve been out recently but when they just wake up after a night’s sleep, generally you’d think they had to go outside.

Even if they do, their desire to stay dry apparently overrules a full bladder. Since they’re completely housebroken and that they’re pretty smart, I used to assume that if they really needed to go, they’d go. Unfortunately, I discovered that this was the case only they decided to go indoors after I went to work.

This only happened once. Since then, I’ve found ways to get them to go outside. The meanest way I have is to trick them. It works well, I must admit. It’s pretty simple: I have two doors that lead to the back garden. They are in the same room, the Tuscan sunroom I redecorated earlier this year. The back doors face one another on opposite walls. One leads out to the patio. The other leads to the side of the house. On a normal day, I open up the door that leads to the side of the house and the pups run out.

On rainy days when they refuse to go out, I simply open up the other door. I step out onto the patio which has a slight overhang that keeps me dry. My loyal little pups follow, curious to see what I’m doing. Then, when they’re out, I quickly go back inside, shutting the door behind me. Meanwhile, I’ve left the other back door open. This means that they must go outside to get back into the house which inevitably leads to them realizing they might as well go to the bathroom since they’re already wet.

Yes, this is a mean trick. However, when I’m in a hurry and I have to get to work and I can’t coax them out any other way, it’s the best method to ensure they go outside. Also, they don’t seem to mind and come to greet me when they come back inside, trying to rub their little wet bodies against my legs- a small price to pay for my slightly cruel trick.

My nicer, kinder method to getting them to go outside is to simply go out with them. If it’s not raining too hard, I step outside for a minute. They follow. Then I go back under the overhang so I stay dry. They’re ok if they know I’m out there. If this doesn’t work, I have been known to stand out in the rain with an umbrella. They like it a lot more if I hold the umbrella over them too but, let’s face it, that’s just a little too indulgent. They seem content to be in the rain if they know I’m out there too.

If it’s not raining too hard, they don’t mind going out. It’s only when they get soaked that they mind. Of course, this is all dependent on their mood. There are times when they run out in the rain anyway. It seems that once they’re soaked, they figure that it doesn’t matter if they stay outside- they’re already wet. They tend to stay out for a while in this case. The bad part is that they’re soaked when they come in and if I’m not quick enough with the towel, they divebomb the carpet, rolling with glee as they get the beads of water off themselves.

Today was a day when they didn’t want to go out. In the morning, I had to resort to my cruel trickery. At lunch, I stood out there with them. This evening, well, I left the door open enough so that when the rain slowed and they really had to go out, they could go.

The only downside is that like young children, the dogs get bored if they’re stuck inside. Rory will lie on the floor and stare at me. When I look at her, she barks at me as if to say, “HUMAN! AMUSE ME! NOW!” Sookie, meanwhile, has given up and decided to resort to her favourite activity- sleeping. When I decide that playing with Rory on the floor is the best way to amuse her, Sookie automatically sprints up to join in. She does NOT like to miss out on fun. Usually, all I have to do is grab a squeaky toy and play tug-of-war with Rory and bam! Sookie is suddenly there, wanting to play too. Eventually, I try to sneak away and let the two play tug-of-war but this doesn’t last long and before I know it, Rory is woofing at me again.

It’s a vicious cycle. Last year, I resorted to those toys that are supposed to occupy dogs for a while- you stuff treats inside and the dogs are supposed to figure out how to release the treats. Unfortunately, my dachshunds tag-team and figuring it out takes half the time it should because one holds it down and the other sticks her tongue inside, forcing the treats out.

I suppose I should be happy that I have smart dogs. The problem is that they’re not quite smart enough that I can sit them down with a book or jigsaw puzzle.

Still, while they might get bored when it’s rainy, their presence ensures that I never do. Besides, when they do come inside and they’ve dried themselves on the carpet, it is rather pleasant to have them snuggle up beside me even though I know it’s 50% love and 50% need to warm up/dry off by using me as a human towel.

Besides, I think I owe them for tricking them into going outside. I always feel a little guilty about that.

Happy Wednesday and have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

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