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Sunday, December 23, 2012

10 things that my dogs do that make no logical sense whatsoever

Almost a year ago, I wrote up this post about ten things I've learned from our dogs.  As a follow up to this, I began to think about its antithesis-basically, ten things the dogs do that really just don't make sense.  Some of these are typical to many dogs (fear of fireworks); some of them are specific to our sometimes lovable mutts (the figure 8 thing).  Our dogs are certainly unique, and they frequent my social media presence.  Being rescues, we cut them (especially the Moose and her mystery history) some slack when it comes to their idiosyncrasies (we don't expect dogs to be furry four-legged Einsteins, after all-especially our dogs); still, some stuff makes us scratch our heads, sigh, or in the end, just laugh.  So, for a little light-hearted Christmas reading, here we go, in no particular order!  (Disclaimer-multiple poop-related references are made here, but given this is mainly a triathlon-related blog, and triathlons often involve close encounters with bodily functions, I figured I was in the clear).

1. They have zero fear of things that could maim/dismember them.

Things that my dogs are not afraid of include:

School buses...or any motor vehicle, for that matter
Both dogs have chased coyotes.  Any time that Bailey has managed to sneak out our front door or slither under our fence, her immediate instinct has been to go play in traffic.  One morning, after escaping our back yard, she was running along the sidewalk as a school bus barreled its way up the street.  Dave and I watched in horror, sensing what would happen next-Bailey would decide to run across the street right as it approached.  Sure enough, she did.  To this day, I have no idea how she wasn't run over.  No fear.  Moose, while not quite as brainless, also has no street sense.  Her MO is sprinting up to cars as they pull into the driveway, because she can't wait for the two ton death machine to actually stop moving before greeting its occupants.

2. Yet, they are terrified of objects that pose absolutely no threat to them.

Things that my dogs are afraid of include:
The ordinary hula hoop

The vacuum clea...omg OMG RUN IT'S MAKING NOISES

It only works if the blade is fully contained and my human is making it go, but I don't get that because I'm a dog!
At dog obedience class, the Moose retreated from the hula hoops on agility day, terrified for no good reason.  Like most dogs, ours run terrified from the vacuum.  Fireworks (and thunder) cause our 50lb Bailey to voluntarily retreat to the dreaded, awful bathtub.  When chopping up walnuts to help my mom with Christmas cookies last week using the hand blender, she ran into the basement.  Seriously, dogs?  Theoretically, I'd imagine that all of these things could somehow cause harm if weirdly misused (not that we leave our dogs outside during thunderstorms, or light off backyard fireworks).  But, chances of death by hula hoop or hand blender are far less than the chances of death by getting run over by a school bus.
This is where we found Bailey after getting home from the Fourth of July fireworks one year.  That would be hiding in one of her other great fears, the BATHTUB (cue horror music)

3. They do this:

Dogs roll in gross. I get that.  Well, I don't get it get it, but I understand that dogs are attracted to all kinds of nastiness.  This, though, defied explanation, due to its location.  While on a romp in the woods one day, Moose disappeared for a bit.  When she returned, that was on her thigh, and her thigh alone.  I still can't figure out how she managed to get a thick smear of...whatever that is...only there.  Did she rub up against it with her hip?  Did she lay on her side for a second, and that just happened to be there?  Did she find some other animal in the woods and stand there against its rear while it #2'ed?  The Moose.  Ew.

4. They eat pounds of raw rice, experience the unpleasant results, and then seek it out and eat pounds of it again.

One morning, probably a couple of years ago now, Dave and I came downstairs and found a incriminating trail of rice coming out of the pantry, starting from the weirdly giant bag that Dave had purchased.  We chastised Bailey a bit (because anytime a dog does something bad, she automatically gets blamed).  I wondered what would happen-we postulated that the rice might absorb water in her stomach, expanding her freakishly skinny midsection.  We were wrong on both accounts, as I found out a few days later when the Moose squatted down on a walk and pooped out completely undigested rice.  After gagging for a bit, I couldn't help but think, that must have felt like straight sandpaper coming out.  Unfortunately, neither human nor dog learned a lesson from this experience, as Dave then moved the rice to another dog-accessible location.  This time, both dogs ate several pounds worth of it, and the process repeated.  Nothing starts the weekend off right like cleaning dog rice poop up from your den carpet, let me tell you.  After that, we hid the rice somewhere good-or so we thought.  Those brats, despite the fact that their nether regions must have been rubbed raw, sought it out yet again.  This time, Bailey did most of the damage, which was fantastic, given that we were bringing her to a hotel shortly afterwards.  Luckily, she did wake us up at night to do her business...but I did get a few nasty looks the next day when I was dragging her as she was trying to squat on someone's front yard while running.  There would have been no cleaning that up with a plastic bag, after all.  Thinking back, yes, we were idiots for leaving the rices places where the dogs could get at it...but, it's freaking rice.  When raw, it's absolutely tasteless little hard pellets that hold no appeal to anything with moderate intelligence in the first place.  After what had to have been the most painful poops of our dogs' lives, one would think that would have killed all desire to forage for more.  There's just no way that the taste of raw rice can be so awesome that it outweighs what it must feel like to pass it.  Unless you're one of our dogs, that is.  

5. The whole "lick something ridiculously hot, retreat and smack lips, approach plate again, sniff a little, and repeat" deal.

This typically happens with one of two items: wasabi or Dave's favorite sriracha hot sauce.  After dinner, we'll often clear anything possibly dog-harmful (bones, undigestibles, etc) off our plates and set them down for the dogs to prewash for us.  Sometimes, the plates will have one of the aforementioned items on them.  The dogs will have the sense to lick around the tongue-searing stuff at first, but at the end, they'll be faced with a dilemma-let the goodness end, or try that stuff that sort of burns the nostrils when we sniff it?  Naturally, the choice is to continue licking.  This leads to a fun little cycle.  The dog will immediately back off, looking scared and confused as she smacks her lips repeatedly, not understanding what's going on.  She'll then be overwhelmed by her inner obese dog voice, and will tentatively sneak closer and closer back to the plate, seemingly expecting the hot monster to jump out and attack.  When that doesn't happen, she'll carefully sniff at the plate, tentative at first, and then repeat the entire process, experiencing the same results yet again.
Maybe it stopped being hot in the past 30 seconds!   Let's try again!

6. Moose refuses to run away from the house.

This one is Moose-specific.  Given she's a stout little 35 lb dog, I don't expect the Moose to be able to hang with me for 10 milers.  In the woods, though, off-leash, she'll sprint around endlessly, leading me to believe that she could make it a mile or two.  However, this isn't about the Moose's ability to run.  It's about her willingness to run.  She literally just flat out refuses if I'm heading away from the house.  If you start to run behind this dog on a walk, she will sit down and absolutely refuse to move, no matter how much pulling, encouraging, or pleading you do.  It's almost bizarre.  I've never been able to get her to go more than a block before this happens.  On the way back to the house, though, she'll break out into a dead sprint, dragging me along in her frantic attempt to get back to the safety "no running" zone.  My only thought is that her previous owners drove 1000 miles away from home, went for a run with her, left her, immediately hopped back into their car, and drove off, leaving the Moose stranded.  Or maybe she just makes no sense whatsoever, because she's a dog.  Who knows.

7. Moose also refuses to walk in a figure 8

At dog obedience class, one of the exercises we were supposed to do was walk our dogs in a figure 8.  The response from the Moose on the first attempt mirrored what happens when we try to run her.  She refused, sitting in the middle of the floor while all of the other dogs happily trotted around, making their owners look halfway competent.  The instructor shot us a look, and told us to practice this skill.  Determined not to be embarrassed the next week, I took Moose out into the yard, setting up a mini figure 8 course.  More refusal. I tried treats, I tried bribing, I tried every type of collar or harness that we had, I tried as much dragging as I could.  The Moose just adhered herself to the grass.  At class the next week, we were supposed to demonstrate how awesome our dogs had become at their figure 8'ing over the past week.  Again, all of the other dogs pranced along.  The Moose planted herself firmly on the ground.  The instructor came over, suspecting that perhaps I hadn't done my homework.  Well, even the highly experienced instructor, who had assisted in the basic training of thousands of rescue mutts over the course of the years, could not get the Moose to budge (almost to my relief).  As the rest of the class gawked, the Moose, firmly superglued to the ground by that point, yelped as the instructor tried every trick in the books to get her to walk a figure 8, to no avail.  After several minutes of this, she gave up, stating that this was the first time in her career she'd ever failed to get a dog to do something so simple and harmless.  Yep.  That's our dog.
The configuration of death 

8. They chose to stand in the worst positions possible in the car.

When car shopping a few years ago, I selected a versatile, practical hatchback, figuring it would be perfect for transporting two dogs, two people, and a bunch of triathlon gear.  The car design has been fantastic-except for when the dogs decide to inexplicably leap out of the comfy, spacious back (fully equipped with a blanket, plenty of windows to look out, and often some bones) in order to stand in weird positions all over the rest of the car, spreading their epoxy-like fur everywhere.  They'll usually try to weasel their way up to the front seat, not understanding the whole "I'm driving" concept.  The favorite position is standing with back feet on back seat, front feet on the center console between the front seats-aka, the most unstable dog position ever.  They never seem to learn that every time I turn, brake, or accelerate, this leads to a scrambler-like effect, and a struggle to stay upright (that sometimes ends up in falling all over the place).  My favorite example of this was on the way home from the Poconos 70.3, when Bailey slunk her way out of the back into the backseat, trying to perch/lay among wheel bags and piles of gear.  Conveniently, we were stuck in traffic at the time, with no means of pulling over and shoving her back into place, so she sort of awkwardly stood/laid there while Dave yelled about her standing on his carbon wheels.  Good times, Bailey, good times.
Why lay comfortably in the back of the car when you can awkwardly perch like this?

9. They poop on the upslope.

The back part of our property is a steep uphill, covered in various types of groundcover plants and pine trees-i.e., unusable to humans.  Thus, we thoroughly appreciate when the dogs decide to #2 up there.  How they chose to do their business, though, is what confuses me.  When they choose to use this area as their bathroom (the Moose in particular), they poop with their butt up the hill, and their arms down below.  I don't get this.  I can concede that this position would mean less squatting.  However, the laws of gravity still apply in other ways here.  Having the butt above just doesn't seem like it'd be ideal pooping position (the multiple times Bailey pooped in a 45min run done immediately after witnessing her doing this confirmed my opinion on this matter).  Plus...what if stuff started rolling down the hill into their front legs?  Gross.  I guess this wouldn't bother the dogs, given they eat/roll in poop, but it bothers me.  And I feed them.  They should respect that more.

10. They completely don't realize that they only delay the start of their walk (or, in Bailey's case, run) by spazzing all over the hallway beforehand

Although Bailey ranks towards (at) the bottom of dog intelligence charts, she has some sort of savant-ness/hyperactive radar regarding runs or walks.  The second she hears anything that suggests that one of us might be heading out for a run or preparing to take them for a walk (this includes turning on a garmin, putting on a shoe, coming upstairs after biking, grabbing a plastic bag out of the cabinet, changing after biking, making any sort of move towards the hat/glove bag, etc), even if she's been lounging on our bed all morning, she immediately comes downstairs.  This is when things start to get irritating.  She then loses all control over her excitement, frantically leaping, digging at her leash, picking up gloves in her mouth and transporting them elsewhere, and jumping around into the shoe rack, knocking shoes all over the place.  Trying to get shoes, hats, gloves, and leashes on then becomes a gargantuan task, as I have to deal with a 50lb, lanky, spastic disaster of a dog spewing equipment everywhere, sometime smashing into my face if I try to lean down to tie my shoes.  She sometimes senses that sitting gets her what she wants, so she'll do that...but it'll last all of 2-3 seconds before her uncontrollable excitement gets the better of her.  My favorite is transporting the gloves elsewhere-maybe, Bailey, maybe we'd get out the door sooner if I could find my gloves.  The Moose tends to be a bit more reserved, given she knows that she doesn't always get to go on our mysterious outings. However, when it's clear that we're going on a walk instead of a run (i.e., when I reach for the drawstring bag of treats and poop bags), she then contributes in her own way, which is by sitting at the door and barking.  I get it, the Moose.  You want to go for a walk.  Fifteen (or so it feels like) unnecessary minutes later, when I finally get us all ready, I force them to sit before I open the door.  Of course, the second I open the door, they forget that they're on leashes, and take off in a 6ft dead sprint.  Canine geniuses.
Captured in her .3 seconds of sitting.  I didn't touch her leash at all; its positioning is all her
Well, that about sums up some of our dogs quirky, "endearing" little qualities.  Because a picture's worth a thousand words, I'll close out with a few more that summarize day to day life with our mutts.
Enjoying some butt
And washing it down with some butt water

Why yes, it is possible to get a blanket stuck in your collar and drag it off the couch
But look how cute they are!  So that's how they get away with all that stuff...


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