I love my dog, Daisy. (I feel like I’ve mentioned that once or twice before).
I really do love her. But she’s developed a few behaviors that I’m not all that crazy about.
First, she has a new response to me leaving the house these days. Normally when I leave the house, I pen her in the laundry room. She has a nice bed in there, and it has always been her spot when I go out. Always. For 6 years. Until a few weeks ago. Suddenly, she’s decided she has a limit to how many times she will cooperate with my coming and going. I don’t know how she determines her limit, but, boy, do I know when we’ve hit it.
I put on my shoes and grab my purse.
She finds a nice, comfortable spot far from the laundry room.
I tell her to go to her bed.
She rolls on her back and sticks her feet straight up in the air.
I walk to her to try to force her to move.
She pretends like she’s going to cooperate, but really runs upstairs. She lays down, rolls on her back (feet in the air), and goes COMPLETELY limp. 65 pounds of dead weight at the top of the stairs.
(If you doubt or think I’m exaggerating, come by one day. My drama queen loves an audience).
The problem is that I am running late 95% of the time, so she wins the battle and gets to stay out because I don’t have time to negotiate. Fortunately, she’s passed the chewing stage.
Her other behavior is more stressful though. I mentioned in a previous post that she likes to chase rabbits. Well, she has discovered weaknesses in our fortress. She has made several trips outside the fence in the last couple of weeks. Without my permission.
I’ve developed a pretty good system for getting her to come home after she’s had a taste of freedom. I tried chasing her, and that became a game. And she doesn’t really respond to anger, so if I tell at her, she’s going to run further. Instead, I get in my car and start driving away. When I get in her line of sight, I roll down the window and call, ‘Want to go with me?’ I open the passenger door and she runs and jumps in. Every time. Then we go for a short ride and I wall her back into the house.
So, basically, life is pretty much me trying to prove to my dog that I’m smarter than she is.
I feel like there’s probably a lesson here. The song lyrics, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love” echo in my mind. I am prone to wander. And I have my fair share of frustrating behaviors. Here’s the difference, though – Daisy has no real choice except to follow her instincts. I can train her all day long. I can attempt to explain to her why staying in the fence is the best idea. And she will look at me like she’s listening, tilting her head and everything. But, if she sees a rabbit, she’s going to chase it. She can’t do anything but try to catch it. I am very capable of changing my habits and behaviors. I can choose to learn from my mistakes and to make better choices the next time. That’s true freedom.