Sunday, August 07, 2005

My Dog Loves Me With One Exception

This is Annie after a bath. She hates, hates baths.

Over the last two years, Annie the Smooth Collie has gone from fearing everything and running away at the slimmest sliver of open-door freedom to a happy, tail-wagging, toy-loving goofball.

This is sometimes the process who have to go through when adopting a pet from a rescue group like the Humane Society. Since you can't see a dog's past, and she obviously can't tell you what she's been through, all you can see at first is potential, and all you can use to coaxe it out of her is patience and kindness.

Now Annie loves the whole family. She loves to sniff the boy smells from Drew and Dean (and any male visitor), rub her face and snort along the couch after a good meal, catch her toys unaware and give them a dramatic, if slow-motion shake (wouldn't want to wrench our neck muscles, now would we?), and prance after tennis balls in the back yard. She acts very much like a teenage modelling hopeful, always seeming to be aware of how she looks (with the exception of the occasional public satisfaction a private itch), fixing her hair with a shake, picking up her feet in a hackneyed Lipizzaner-Stallionesque prance when fetching toys, and giving boys a little backwards glance when offering her booty for a booty-scratch.

The only vestiges left of a difficult few early years are the complete absence of any licking behavior (obviously forbidden in a previous life) and some anxiety at mealtime (no happy wiggling or even drawing too near the dinner-preparer).

She also loves her morning walk, although she doesn't jump and wiggle about like normal dogs (also a possible leftover from unhappy days), but waits patiently for me to get ready with a look of desperation on her face, like she is afraid that, after taking her along for the last 800 walks, I am going to decide to leave her home this time. Once safely outside with leash and poop bags, she sniffs the dog messages left by earlier walkers, carefully chooses her own message-leaving spots, and leaves her messages as daintily as possible (even though the more solid messages get deposited in the poop bag every time), and hopes for the one walk in ten where someone will see her and admire her and pet her and let her smell them. Yes!

After her walk, I leave her at the house and take off for a run. I tried running with Annie but quickly realized that she does not understand the concept. Why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can sniff? Why sniff when you can lay in this patch of shady grass?

When I get back from the house, sweet Annie is gone and Freak Dog has taken her place. It seems because every 6 weeks or so I come home from running and give the dog a bath before bathing myself, now every time I come home from running is Danger Time. Annie fears baths more than mean cats and will do anything to avoid them.

I don't know what the big deal is. I use warm water, and the tub floor is nonslip so she has a good foothold, and the shampoo gets massaged into her coat like my hair dresser does to me then charges me for it. If she only knew the cold hose treatment that old Shelby used to endure after a bad case of intestinal upset that left his long Collie fur with too many poopy Klingons (cling-ons for you non-Trekkies) to be allowed inside, she would be grateful for the upgrade. Instead she freaks out.

Usually I can just let her outside and that way she feels safe from the bath monster. This morning, Drew was working on the house, prepping it for the big painting job, and had all the fence gates open, so outside was out. This makes her even more nervous, because she figures that that means its bath-time for sure and goes sprinting down the basement stairs. Whatever. A momentary freak-out once a day is better than the former continually freaked bundle of nerves that she used to be. I'll take that.

1 comment:

ColliePop said...

Your description of Annie reminds me so much of our own Smooth Collie, Nathan, who we got from a local Collie Rescue group! He's so much more playful now and the prancing, nose rubbing, backward glances while getting butt scratches is spot on! Please join us at Smooth Collies .Net if you haven't already :)
-Eric