For those who don’t know, this dog’s name is Beckett. He’s inhumanly fast and wicked smart.
Well … wicked smart for a dog. By human terms that’s not terribly smart. Basically he’ll fall for the oldest trick in the book multiple times before catching on.
The pose he’s in, with the toy bone, is basically a game of steal the bacon. If I get it first, I throw it and we play fetch. If he gets it first, we play tug. Tug is a stupid game.
Obviously, he’s faster than I am. But if I wave my left hand around, he stops paying attention to the right. “Look a squirrel!” also works. The only problem is that he’ll eventually catch on. And then I’ll have taught one of God’s innocent creatures about lying.
To begin with, I’m sick. And it’s snowing. So I’m basically combining sick days and snow days like the biggest sucker in the world. But that’s not the point of this story.
Beckett is a border collie. He has some routines. One of those routines is that Carolyn feeds him breakfast and I feed him dinner. (This arrangement began after one-too-many of those “did you feed the dog earlier” conversations.) Part of feeding the dog is being responsible for the post-feeding jaunt to the fire hydrant.
But tonight I’m sick. So when the dog comes to me looking for dinner, I asked Carolyn if she could take care of his evening dinner and outing. So she feeds him and a few minutes later he comes to me like he wants to go out. “Did you take him out?” “Of course.”
Huh. But Beckett is pretty insistent that he wants to go out. He starts crying until I get out of bed. Carolyn explains that he wants me to take him out because it’s part of his routine. And border collies like their routines.
So I put on boots and him out. He walks to the fire hydrant, looks around a bit, then turns around to go back inside—like a dog that clearly didn’t need an outing. Even though he cried until I took him out.
Then he proceeds to romp about the house like a squirrel on uppers.1 Bizarrely enough, this is also part of the routine. I take him for his evening outing. He then has his post-outing evening romp.
Carolyn tells me that the dog feels like he has me trained and that he has to take me to the fire hydrant before he can initiate the evening romp.
Incidentally, “a squirrel on uppers” is the top of Beckett’s wishlist if anybody wants to get him a present. It would, without a doubt, be his favorite thing in the world until he finally caught it. Then it would still be his favorite thing in the world. Remind me to tell you about the one time we had a mouse in the kitchen. ↩
In light of recent events in Colorado, Beckett would like to remind outdoorsey dog owners to invest in a pair of friggin’ dog boots. Cut or sore paws are about the most predictable canine trail injuries, not an unforseen cataclysm that should necessitate abandoning your dog on a 14,000 foot peak.
We just did 60 miles with Beckett in notoriously tough paw-country last week. He only wound up needing boots on two days (Mount Washington was actually far worse), but we spent several weeks in advance of the hike teaching him that boots and/or disposable booties were ok to wear. You don’t want to pull that stuff on your dog for the first time on the trail.
Had a great hike-and-lunch date today. Preliminary testing suggests that Beckett’s new dog shoes do a great job of staying on. Not sure yet how they’ll perform on rock scrambles, but I’m liking knowing we will have something more durable than the disposable booties on hand if we run into some rough terrain in the Winds.
He’s wearing a harness because he dragged me up that mountain. The dog-assist was great on the way up, but a bit rough on the knees on the way down.