Greta never reads dog advice rules, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need guidelines for living. Like most dogs, she knows some rules by instinct, and makes up others as she meets new situations. Dogs need rules to help them get along in a world where the naked apes in their packs don’t speak dog and have some incomprehensible language of their own.
You can get a pretty good idea of Greta’s rules by following her through the day:
1. It’s okay to bark any time after it gets light. Or if it’s not, it should be. Go ahead. If you hear something, or if you just want to get the day started, bark, whine and cry until someone comes to get you.
2. In the driveway, listen for barking and sniff the wind for the scent of Richard, the Jack Russell terrier across the street. Even more important, sniff for your arch-enemy Casey, the Boston terrier. (Human note: Greta has never explained why she wants to tear cute little Casey limb from limb). (Greta’s note: It’s a dog thing. You wouldn’t understand). Stall on getting into the car until you have checked the area thoroughly.
3. At the park, exit the car running. Return to have your leash removed only on second summons. Your naked ape does not realize how important it is to check immediately on the groundhog who lives under the cedar trees.
4. Observe Canada geese out on the grass. Put them back in the pond.
5. If there are any ducks on land, put them back in the water too.
6. Go for a swim. As a dog, you don’t understand cause and effect. So you don’t have to worry that the odor you are acquiring in the algae-filled, runoff-contaminated pond will lead to a bath at the end of the week.
7. Check under the trees for possible squirrel activity. If squirrels are on the ground, stalk them by lifting each paw in turn and setting it down carefully, keeping your head and tail low. If the quarry zips up a tree when you get within eight feet of it, don’t give up. Try again with another squirrel. Why do you think they call it dogged determination?
8. When your person calls you, do you have to come? Well, yes, eventually. But if you’re doing something important, you can ignore at least one, perhaps two, calls. Don’t look up, or she’ll know you did in fact hear, and did in fact ignore her. She’ll be angry, and you’ll have to repeat coming-when-called training.
9. Back at the house, let your naked ape ram a glucosamine chondroitin pill down your throat. She must enjoy it, because she does it every day. Here’s the important part—you get a treat afterward.
2. Wake up and bark each time a trash collector, school bus, UPS truck, mail vehicle or other intruder invades your street.
3. Roll on your back in the grass with all four paws in the air, for no reason other than it feels soooo good.
4. Pick up your squeaky toy and drop it in front of any handy person. He or she will throw it for you. They can’t resist.
5. When you go for an after-dinner walk around the subdivision, and other dogs bark to warn you off their turf, canine etiquette dictates that you should not answer.
6. Procedure on meeting a new dog: it’s all right to do a little preliminary nose sniffing, but you know where the real sniff test is. Go for it. It’ll amuse the naked apes.
7. Cats are like squirrels. They show no respect. Make a mental note to go after the orange and white cat that stares at you from her driveway if you ever have a chance to run through the neighborhood off leash. Meanwhile, the best you can do is to whimper as you go by. The cat will ignore that, too.
8. Growl at your personal cat if she bats her paw at your nose.
9. If your person sits down on the floor beside you and looks sad and talks to you, sit still and look faintly worried. All Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers know how to look faintly worried. If you’re another breed, you could just try for solemn dignity.
10. Get your treats, go to sleep.
1. Repeat prior day’s schedule.
(c) 2011 by Donna Engle