Thursday, September 27, 2007

So Proud - So Very Proud!

This is a very special edition of Dogs on Thursday. I am so proud of Emma, I could burst! Now, I love Emma and Tara will all my heart, and while they can do no wrong in my eyes, I am aware that not everyone is pleased to have a dog jumping up on them in excitement, or welcomes sloppy wet kisses the way that I do. I have raised my dogs with a shocking lack of discipline, according to some people, and you know who you are, Mom and Dad. My father has often said it's a good thing I never had kids, because they would be the most spoiled brats on the block. Guilty as charged!

Anyway, what did Emma do to make me so proud? She sat. Yes, that's right. Emma sat. She put her little hiney on the floor. Dad said to her "Emma...sit" and she sat. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles. I was so proud of her, I thought I was going to burst at the seams.

Now for a little background. When I was a kid, we had a very special dog. Her name was Samantha. "Sam" for short. Now, she wasn't our first dog. We had a Basset Hound when I was really small, but then we moved to a house without a fenced-in yard and Cleo had to go to a new home. He was just gone one day when I came home from first grade that day. Oh, how I cried.

But I digress. We got Sam from the ASPCA when I was about 12 years old. She looked just like a tiny Lassie, and had four brothers that were all black and white. If she wasn't a border collie, or at least mostly border collie, I'm a monkey's uncle. Sam was so very smart, and just lived to please you. Especially my dad. He taught Sam all kinds of commands, and Sam would respond instantly. No hesitation. If Sam did anything wrong, she would be so upset about it, she would throw up. Literally. Her most frequent sin was to get up on my parents' bed while we were all gone to church. There would be the tell-tale hollow between the pillows, and dad would just say "Sam...what did you do?", and Sam would guiltily slink off and invariably vomit in a corner somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose you could say that dad and I have differing philosophies. The pendulum has swung to the opposite point in it's trajectory, so to speak. As long as the dogs are safe and happy, I'm happy. They want to get up on the furniture? No problem. Sleep on the bed? Let me get you an extra pillow. Are you a little chilly? Come on under the covers. Words like "sit", "stay", "down", and "roll over" mean absolutely nothing to them.

Now, as much as I love my dogs, I love my parents, too. Oddly enough, though, they do not enjoy being jumped on by undisciplined hooligans when they walk in the door. For that reason, I have made a conscious effort over the past six or eight months to think about trying to convince Emma that she might want to, perhaps, "sit" when someone politely requests it of her.

First, Emma and I watched several episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" on TV. I even went so far as to purchase Cesar Milan's book "Cesar's Way" and read it to Emma.

Cesar does some amazing things with dogs that have severe behavioral problems, but his methods seem a little, well, harsh, for my sweet girls.

For my birthday this year, my good friend Pat gave me Tamar Gellar's book "The Loved Dog".

Now, her methods are more....loving. That's more like it! Yes, love them! Love them, and they will try to please you. I just had to do a little tweaking, and viola, after a few short months, Emma will almost always sit when asked. Or at least she will give it serious thought. Of course, she will not sit on a cold hard floor. No, her tushie needs a rug to sit upon. And, a treat. Never forget the all-important treat. If she is going to humor me by doing something so silly as to obey a command, she darn well better get a cookie out of it.

All of this brings me to last night. Last night will be burned into my memory for all time. I get home from work, feed the dogs, put their bowls in the dishwasher, and turn it on. I look around the kitchen, thinking about what to have for my own dinner, and the dishwasher starts making this unholy racket. My first thought was "call dad" My second thought was "no, you are an intelligent, able, human being, and can figure this out for yourself".

So after I told that second thought to "stuff it" and called dad, he came right over. (What a good dad, huh?) Well, Emma just loves her Grampa, and nearly turns herself inside out when he comes to visit. She is absolutely certain that Grampa comes over expressly to be showered with lots of wet doggy kisses. For some odd reason, he seems to play at being aloof, and sometimes tells her to "Go Away", but this does not deter the ever faithful and loving Emma. The only thing that kept him from being attacked while he was on the floor looking at the innards of the dishwasher was a fairly sturdy gate across the doorway. After dad finished diagnosing the problem, he stood up, and Emma was allowed back into the kitchen. She fairly danced around his feet, wiggling and worming around, just aching to jump up and give him kisses. I said to him "Why don't you tell her to sit?"

In that instant, I said to myself, "What have you done?" It seemed like everything went in slow motion. My mouth went dry, my pulse started to race. Dad looked at me as though I had grown a third head on my shoulders, then looked at Emma and said "Emma...sit". Her little butt dropped right to the floor. I was never so proud in my whole life. It might have been coincidence, and she was getting ready to sit anyway. It might have been a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, but I don't care. My Emma SAT.
Emma sat down for my dad. Oh, happy day! Who would have thought I would be so happy to have a broken dishwasher?


Anonymous said...

Oh, Dianne. You do know that Emma (aka KissyFace) was just humoring Dad? I think your idea that she was just getting ready to sit anyway was probably right! But it is a great picture of Emma. Do dogs grin?

Nichole said...

YEAH Emma!!!!!!!!!!

Paula said...

What sweet dog memories and pictures!
both Sam and Cleo are so adorable!

Good Dog Emma!

I love the Dog Whisperer show!
That Cesar is amazing how he can work with any dog.

Criquette said...

Way to go Emma! and look how proud she is of herself! I guess your stories about the girls explain a lot. I've had 2 different friends who were owned by Brits. They (the dogs) were like friends you love but dread inviting to a party - hooligans, as you call them. I'll never forget the sight of my buddies flying down the street, being walked by their dogs. Now I understand it's part of the breed!