So I have the best two dogs in the world. Crackers (sweetie’s nickname: “Crackhead”) is a bouncy little guy who is all
about the love. Well, the love of me, my sweetie, and various women he knows pretty well. Male strangers, children, and especially every other dog except Harriett are clearly threats that should be eliminated in single combat. Why I can’t seem to understand this he finds baffling, but because his beloved asks, he’ll TRY not to be a jerk ALL the time. He’s a small and anxious 10lbs, and he loves to please and is a creative thinker, so he learns tricks quickly and easily. His favorite game is to try to catch and bite (but not too hard) a hand under a blanket. He’s very fast, and sometimes cheats by going for the hand that’s not under the blanket instead.
So Crackers and I have some work to do. Unfortunately, a lot of the work he needs involves repetitive walking past other dogs, which doesn’t match up with my energy and pain levels all that often, so the progress is pretty slow. Crackers often stays home in his crate (don’t worry, he loves his crate safe haven) while Harriett and I go out.
Harriett (sweetie’s nickname: “Hairy-butt” [patently untrue on a hairless dog, by the way]) is a very different personality, usually very calm and laid-back. She does get excited sometimes, but with her it is generally anticipation of either her favorite thing, food, or her second favorite thing, my sweetie. She is generally uninterested in other dogs, although there are a few she would like to play with, once the initial snarl that demonstrates that she’s going to be the boss is out of the way. She had previously had a litter at the puppy mill from where they both were rescued, and she has a rather obsessive licking habit. She can tell when someone is sad and will often come over and try to lick them into cheering up. But in general she is a pretty independent girl and just doesn’t worry much about anything. She is extremely food-motivated, but also rather stubborn and tends to give up easily–she takes training much more slowly than Crackers, but once she gets something she knows it forever. She may not DO it unless you have a good enough reward, but if you do, she’s got it.
Harriett has some interesting tastes. She loves coffee, for one thing. I didn’t find this out by feeding her coffee, but when she found her first spilled coffee bean on the kitchen floor and munched it up, I began offering her my coffee cup to lick out after I was done in the morning. (I looked up whether caffeine was harmful to dogs first, and discovered, to my surprise, that a little caffeine could actually be considered good for them.) This backfired on me the other day. I was about two sips in when some roof-washers knocked on the door and let me know I should move my car. I got back and Harriett had her front feet on the coffee table, slurping down my hot homemade organic kona latte (from a great trip to Lyman Farms’ Mango Sunset B&B) as fast as possible. Since there has never been a time when feet on any table in our house was acceptable, she jumped back guiltily the moment I shouted “NO!” but there were only a couple mouthfuls left for me (I don’t worry all that much about doggie germs, especially with coffee that good!). I’m going to have to protect my coffee better now that she knows what she’s missing.
Harriett also loves balls (to chase, catch, squeak, but rarely to let you have back) and plush animals to whom she can give the rat terrier death shake. She also likes to chew on cloth–it’s a gentle nibble on pillows, bedsheets, whatever’s handy that seems to be a way to calm herself down. She never chews through anything but her own toys, and it keeps her teeth amazingly clean, so I don’t worry about it. One morning I came back into the bedroom to find a roll of first aid gauze ALL over the bed. It had been left on top of the first aid kit instead of put back inside and, apparently, a roll of gauze is one of the FUNNEST TOYS EVER. I started wrapping it into a ball and throwing it for her, and she would chase it, catch it, and rip it apart as much as possible. Turns out this roll of gauze is a lasting favorite.
People spend lots of money on expensive toys for their children, and often something simple like a pan and a wooden spoon to bang on it, or a big cardboard box to be a playhouse, ends up being more fun than the spendier gifts. While I don’t spend that much on them, I do like bringing home a toy for the dogs now and then. Perhaps I, too, should look to more household items for entertainment instead of the pet store’s wall of squeaky things. I do know that gauze is going into my toy rotation!
Important Safety Note: Guaze is a toy that Harriett never gets to play with unsupervised–I want to be able to take it away if she decides to try eating it. Anything already torn up should be taken away if there’s a chance the animal might swallow it, because those kinds of materials can cause life-threatening gut impactions if eaten.