Andie’s training is coming along. She figures that if she can’t make it to the potty place outside then that floor mat in front of the door leading to the backyard would be such a nice compromise, or, barring that, if she selects a spot near the toilet in the bathroom, because after all I go there, all will be well. Well, all is not well, so I sit her down and talk sternly to her and say painful things like ‘bad dog.‘ Then she gives me that look, like the one above and I feel terrible.
Andie seems to be a very good judge of character and unfortunately has selected the neighborhood’s resident crank’s driveway in which to deposit her gifts. So, naturally I am known as that schleppy , slightly eccentric old man who wears tie dyed T-shirts, cut-off sweat pant’s shorts and garden clogs and has a wad of plastic bags hanging out of his pocket, but his dog is cute.
Potty training is probably the most difficult interaction we have with our dogs in the beginning. Andie is so smart and is catching on, but it will take many months, because caged kennel pups require an infinite amount of patience. Just knowing that Andie is very intelligent and clearly a Mensa pup, who will one day achieve great heights at Vassar after attending undergrad at Bennington College, I undertook to draw out a schematic flow chart (pardon the pun) of where, what time and direction she should undertake to do the potty thing. She looked quite seriously at it for a moment or two, then licked it and wandered off to play with squeak bug (pictured below).
Next to showing pictures of her to perfect strangers at Safeway or the hardware store I bore said perfect strangers with tales of her successful bowel movements. If I put her in a pram the size of a Volkswagen, I’m sure people would run screaming in the opposite direction. I did think of it, the other day when after emerging from some bushes in the back yard she had her whole head covered in spider webs and I thought, ‘perfect—Halloween Dog!’.
Our days still consist of many walks around the neighborhood. One of Andie’s favorite people is a retired Indian gentleman, who carries a deep wound of grief over the cancer death of his daughter last year. Andie loves him and runs up to him every time she sees him and so, we now call him Uncle. Andie is good for the soul.
The walks to the Church yard are ongoing, and yes she still finds, cigi buts, small rocks, wrappers and other detritus to snarf and eat, so I had to come up with an alternate training game: The ‘Come’ ‘Sit’ ‘kibble treat’ game, which distracts her from the bright and shiny and so on we go. I don’t want Andie to be over trained or dressed out in dog tricks. My intention is to focus on commands that will keep her safe. Ours is a small rural town where many homes look like truck marts. Speeding cars, large suv’s, and lumbering wine trucks are a concern.
My observation is that dogs and all the Cockers I have had as pets, can develop an individual self, seen mostly at home where all factors allow them to develop without obsessive control. Andie and I spent much time through the day playing. Her toys are still migrating from room to room, or from bed to this room or that room. She seems to be perfectly organized about it, while I am considering organizing yet another flow-chart board to make sense of it all.
She is a mighty ball player, but not the typical ‘throw and fetch’ sort. She actually bats the ball around like a soccer player. My thought is that she’s quite intuitive about these things, now that we live 20 feet above grade and consider ourselves living in Heights rather than the Flats, which are a block away. After all, this is wine country, where hotel rooms cost $500.00 a night and heirloom tomatoes average a fiver apiece. Even the local Safeway has become so expensive we call it WholeFoods ‘D’ List. Oh, did I mention someone in town has a Tesla?
Andie brings renewed life and joy to this small cottage. My Trace would have so loved her. For me she is a life send. I still can’t plan for a future or know what will happen if I lose the cottage because of rent increases, but the day-to-day business of the usual is filled with joy because of her. When, we were blessed with the first real rain in six months last week I took her to see how she handled wet. She loved it ( a true Cocker after all). In the shallow gullies on either side of the street in front of our house, swift torrents of beautiful rain water went rushing down to the flats on First Street. Large bubbles formed on the top of the surge and Andie kept jumping on them and biting them ever so gently like her toys…..an incredible sight that filled my heart with love.