Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Family Dog and Islam: Part II--One Dog's Diary

As mentioned in The Family Dog and Islam: Part I--Some Generalities and One Family Pet, Whisper, my canine niece, has kindly agreed to share with us the summary from the daily diary entries that she made last summer,  while waiting for the other family members to return from their annual summer resort vacation, and while I dog sat. Here, then, in her own words, is Whisper.

Highlights from the week that was

July 5

Dear Family

I was feeling rather sad this morning when you drove off, so Auntie Chiara thought I would feel better if I waved goodbye. It helped a little, but not a lot. Auntie Chiara thought maybe it was time for a one-time doggy treat, so she gave me 1/2 a doggy cookie. And later when she had lunch, a little tuna juice. I kept looking for more tuna but there was none. She didn't let me eat any carrot peels although I cried (kind of).

We just came back from our walk. She took me to her favourite rose hedge, and then forgot to look at it!!! It was a pretty good walk though, and now we are both having a drink of cold water from the fridge. A nice lady stopped jogging and walked with us, because she admired me so much that she wants to buy a Coton de Tulear. I behaved very well, and Auntie Chiara told her how good I am (Ha Ha Ha!!!). We saw other interesting things, people and dogs, but we didn't step in any wet cement--we couldn't find any.

July 6

Dear Family

Last night Auntie Chiara woke me up from my favourite spot downstairs behind the gliding chairs, and made me go outside to pee, at 10pm! She tricked me by rattling an empty Trisquit box, because I wouldn't come up and wouldn't let her carry me up. She did praise me a lot after I peed and gave me a LITTLE treat. I'm happy. It was a good thing she did, I had had a lot of water to drink, after all that walking.


We are back from our morning walk (I knew she had walking in mind), and right now I am hiding in case she gets any more ideas, although I did enjoy this morning's walk. Auntie Chiara remembered to look at the rose hedges (both of them), and we agreed that the people with the large one with the pinky mauve roses should have chosen a more complimentary colour for the geraniums in pots on the porch--deep red, too much of a clash!

We met a lot of dogs small and large, and I behaved very well. A miniature schnauzer girl wanted to play with me, but she was a little too rambunctious. I pretended I was afraid (as if!), and Auntie Chiara got me out of the situation politely. I do really like barking ferociously at large dogs though, as long as they are on the other side of the street. Some bark back, but I know they are cowering on the inside. Hah!

We also met a beautiful dark coloured Sheltie who is very happy now with a very nice family, but she used to live in an apartment and never went outside. Also her owners kept her fur shaved so she looked like a miniature Huskie. She is very glad to be living in a nice house in the neighbourhood with a nice owner who rescued her from the SPCA.

Also, I finally got to chase off a few golfers yesterday. One waved as he strolled down the fairway--fool! I don't let up just because of a friendly wave. I kept him moving down the fairway, and even barked on his back swing--like I would be deterred by something so unimportant--hah! He was such a fool I didn't even bother with a victory lap. There was a more worthy group who came along, though, and they got the full treatment!

July 7

Dear Family

No fun in the back yard, it is too cool, gray and humid. It is strictly a business opportunity so far today. We've checked the hourly weather forecast, and are planning to walk afternoon and evening (it will be getting warmer throughout the day, and less humid--we are not fools!).

Speaking of fools, I think I'll go look for golfers! Later!


Not many golfers, and those covered carts are ruining my fun, and hampering my job of defending the castle property (harkening back to my royal Malgache roots). Fortunately there is a moat, or my job would be that much harder. Sometimes I comfort myself with the thought that my barking buddy is probably handling the golfing fools on the other side of the fairway. So many fools, so few dogs on the job!

Now we are listening to and watching the Michael Jackson funeral/memorial service. Some guy named Al Sharpton made Auntie Chiara cry, especially when he told Michael's children that their father was innocent. Jermaine Jackson was wonderful, as were so many others.

Oh, they just had Shaheen Jafargholi sing "Who’s Loving You", and they gave him a standing ovation! That is my favourite. I love him--I watched the clips from Britain's Got Talent!

No, both Auntie Chiara and I agree the end was the best from "We are the World", to his daughter's speech, to the final prayer! Now we have to go for a walk before we both cry!


We were too pooped to walk, so we're saving it for tomorrow. I have a new strategy for being let out that doesn't involve wasted barking. I make a fuss near the computer, like rolling around the rug until Auntie Chiara notices, then I make my way to the bottom of the staircase, cry a little 'til she comes, then I start up the stairs, look back after a few steps to make sure she is clued in and following, wait at the top of the stairs, give her a look and a twirl, then head through the kitchen--making sure she is following, sniffing for any left over cheese-rain--and to the door. She follows really well and even thinks she is encouraging me, hah!

July 8

Dear Family

Last night Auntie Chiara pulled another one of her wake me up at 10pm stunts, so I went out, but I stayed there very quiet for a very long time. I made her very, very worried, and still I didn't even move so she couldn't even hear my collar charms tinkling. Finally, after a lot of calling my name, and "Come!" (as if!), she said the magic words "Whisper, cookie!". Up I came in a flash, into the house, and went to the cupboard with the family size package of pretzels, and waited for my just desserts. Then I saw her head to the magic cookie place in the laundry room. I waited very nicely while she broke a cookie in 1/2. If I had known about the 1/2 cookie I wouldn't have come in so fast, but I enjoyed it anyway.

It seems I trained her very well at supper. Remember how I told you about how I got her to let me out with little barking and waiting? Well that time when I came in, I headed across the kitchen, looking back occasionally to make sure she was following, and then headed to the laundry room. I looked expectantly, headed to my bowl, looked up at the washing machine, where dinner is supposed to be marinating, etc. She was a little slow, but finally got the idea. She tried to protest it was too early for dinner, but I just gave her "the look", and she decided to advance the dinner hour for both of us. I figure it was about my normal time anyway.

By the end of the week, I should have her fully trained.


It is such a splendid, sunny warm day that we are fully back on track. We had a nice walk today. A lot of joggers, few dogs or friendly people, nice gardens. I pooped on the sidewalk--well to teach Auntie Chiara a lesson, if you must know. This morning she did let me out after breakfast, but she didn't give any explicit instructions so I just peed. Tomorrow she will be more precise, I'm sure.

She is more intelligent than she seems. Today she introduced the idea of a walk and then kept calling me intermittently while she got ready. She rattled my leash, so I went to the bottom of the stairs. But then she just waved it at me until I came up. Maybe the sidewalk poop was a subconscious act of rebellion--I could have gone on the grass. Ugh, now I'm even thinking like her.

After an afternoon of work (computer for her, sleeping for me), we went for an early evening walk. I was very excited to go! I peed but didn't take time for anything else. Auntie Chiara thought I had pooped out breakfast so we were good to go. She brought a bag just in case. Good thing because I had more pooping to do.

We headed back to the park. Lots of fun. Interesting people playing basketball, baseball, tennis, walking, jogging, and working. I met a nice new dog, a Papillon. I am getting a little less dog shy--I mean, aloof. It was very hot though and when I tried to go in the workmen's hut for shade Auntie Chiara took me under a shade tree for a while. We got home later, and between one thing and another it was 7:40 before Auntie Chiara thought of dinner. I didn't even care, I was happy sleeping on the cool tiles. I did perk up at the sound of cooking though. And then I got all excited about my own dinner, too.

July 9

Dear Family

We got an early start this morning. Auntie Chiara got up at 6 to make sure I hadn't peed since my last outing at 9pm. I tell you I am keeping this place DRY. I ignored her, or did my best to. She wanted me to go out around 7AM-- yawn, not interested. Finally she made my breakfast at around 7:30, and I graced her with my presence. She made me go outside, not a very interesting event so far today--no golfing fools, no Mr or Mrs Gloomy, not even a robin to remind whose territory this is.

She feels bad when I cry and bark at the washing machine, so she put my bowl with its marinating dinner on a counter where I don't usually look for it. Hah! I barked and cried at the washing machine so long, she forgot it wasn't there. I tell you I have the woman almost fully trained!

She did try to assert her authority though, by getting fed up with niceties, and calling me sternly to come while pointing at her feet. I chose to obey, because there was a walk in it, but I gave her a LOOK, then I SAUNTERED, and not in a straight line either, more like tacking back and forth, the way WINNING sailboats do. I did let her put the leash on, though.

Once we got outside I was extremely enthusiastic. I had bounce, I had bark, I greeted all and sundry. I had a nice flirtation with a young, handsome, golden-furred, plume-tailed fellow walking on the other side of the street. I'm more interested than Mummy thinks! And not in the least bit breed prejudiced.

Back to our walk. As I said, I was just full of pep, and off we went to The Park by the long route. We are learning about more than just the perimeter of that park, I tell you. They have 2 or 3 baseball diamonds! Why doesn't Brother ever play there? Then I could visit too!

Next we took a long route with lovely homes and houses, to the park near Brother's school. On the way we stopped to read a sign we saw yesterday on the boulevard side of the lawn of one of the houses, in front of a rather "blond", rather large patch of "grass" (may it RIP). The sign was at doggy level, so I read it to Auntie Chiara. Here is what it said:

Dear Neighbour,
Please find another spot for your dog to pee. As you can see, this spot is harming the grass. Thank you.

I'm glad I never pee twice in the same boulevard spot. Amateurs! Mostly I go on the sidewalk if I can, especially when I am on a short leash. Plus it's faster.

Now we are back in the house. I'm on the computer. I don't know what she is doing. I'm checking for emails, but I don't see any. No hints, no pressure.


We had a great walk, back a new way to The Park, took in a couple of baseball games, had a couple of flirtations-- one with a bichon frisé, definitely a mutual attraction. We found more signs, and heard 2 women talking about the peeing dog. This time there were 3 little signs,  1 right in front of a tree and 2 in front of 2 small brown patches. I read them for Auntie Chiara. They all said the same thing:

Please don't pee your dog. Thank you.

Someone had changed them to:

Please don't pee ON your dog. Thank you.

I'm glad we don't live on that street.

We picked up the mail and brought the one addressed to Sherman to him. He was grateful. I said no problem.

After we both had a drink of cold water, I looked cute a lot and Auntie Chiara gave me 1/2 a cookie. She let me out to pee later, and I didn't come up the deck stairs for a LONG time. I just stood at the bottom of the stairs. Everytime she came out and looked I pretended I had something to bark at, or sniffed around. She thought about carrying me upstairs (like she did inside before our 2nd walk), but then she finally got the idea. "Whisper, cookie!" she said, and up I came like a flash. SO TRAINED, SOOOO TRAINED!

July 10

Dear Family

I hope you are having a nice final day. We have been up since the crack of dawn getting ready for your arrival. We kept everything neat while you were gone so it was more a case of the special little things.

Auntie Chiara is outside, doing the windows. She pretended she is afraid of heights, but I told her to consider herself  lucky we don't have a second story. She finally agreed, and seems to be doing a good job.

I'm just taking a break between silver polishing and fine china dusting.

Gotta go, it's time for Auntie Chiara to do the eaves, and then maybe I'll let her take me for a walk.


We are back from our walk, and after a cold drink, Auntie Chiara is outside cleaning the bricks, giving me some computer time alone. I need it for a few true confessions.

True Confessions:

1) Way to go hiding the dishwasher soap people! Auntie Chiara looked high and low, low and high, in and out of cupboards, and in and out of rooms, before she finally found it. Of course I knew where it was all along, but it was too amusing to just watch her look! It wasn't the most amusing, however.

2) The most amusing was letting Auntie Chiara think the kitchen television wasn't working, and would only show channels with 8's and 0's in them, which of course means all snow except for channel 08. This went on for days, like at least 3! She was hilarious! She was very puzzled, trying various remote control combos, turning it off and on, checking the cables, and plugs, checking the other televisions, forgetting it "wasn't working", and trying it again, deciding not to watch channel 08 (not enough American news? not enough Michael Jackson?), giving up--just hilarious! It was all I could do not to laugh out LOUD behind her back in front of her face! Finally, yesterday, I showed her that she kept pressing the recall button 1/2 the time she thought she was pressing 0--800, 08, 800, 80, 08, 80, 800--TOO FUNNY! The best entertainment of the week!

3) I've done my best but Auntie Chiara--who has definite areas of intelligence and sensitivity--still needs a lot of work. She is a little slow and reluctant to carry me up stairs, she takes too long to figure out to say "Whisper, cookie!", she hogs the computer, and sometimes wakes me up late to go outside when I'd rather sleep. In the bad old days we would have called her an idiote savante who is trainably retarded in her areas of deficit. Now we just call her special and neurocognitively diverse, with areas of great talent. We don't pander to the "neuronormal" more than we have to. **

So here is her final report card. All grades with an * are "special", and no grades lower than B- are given.

Final Report Card: 

Walking--A: clearly an area of strength. Could be an A+ if she let me decide the route more often.

Letting outdoors--A-: comes and plays with me, keeps me company. Could improve night timings, letting me eat poop when I want to, and learning to say "Whisper, cookie!" faster.

Feeding--B+: reliably gives dog food and pill, shares tuna juice and cheese-rain; isn't very generous though, and doesn't spill or drop things on the floor the way she could.

Computer sharing--B-: doesn't let me have sufficient access.

Special attention--B+: some very nice touches; has been graded down because she hasn't bought me a hair bow despite ample opportunity, available shopping outlets, and going to the supermarket with its adjacent mall.

Grooming--B: handled well, wouldn't have been necessary without the tomato sauce dropped in a useless, inedible place on my lower ear--not a good look.

Carrying--*B: needs work, is improving.

Finding me--*B: takes a long time, persists, but sometimes gives up in order to do something else, and comes back. Needs honing.

Amusement--A+: while her other antics have been a solid A, the television adventure put her over the top!

**Whisper intends no offense to the developmentally challenged or their families. She spent too much time with me and now thinks such bilingual Medical History jokes are funny. Miskeena. She also shares my revulsion at the Jenny McCarthy School of Autism Prevention and Treatment.

What are your impressions of Whisper's diary?
What, if any, insight has it provided into a dog's life as a family pet?
To what extent do dogs/pets train their "masters"?
How important is it for human family, especially mother, to receive regular email communication from a canine daughter, granddaughter, sister, during times of separation?
Are you still laughing at my audio-visual difficulties? Shame on you!
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?
Please feel free to share your pet/ pet dog stories.


countrygirl said...

Love the diary...I reckon every dog thinks that she/he is the master of the universe....

I think that after a bit every dog owner tend to understand her dog mannerism and as you said it's a very thin line between train the dog and train the masters. So far my puppies didn't train me (and i didn't train too) but we are both attend a school so we can train each others :-P

btw you canine is a picky one my dog as long as something can be called foo she will eat..yesterday i found out that she eats strawberries

Susanne said...

Whisper, I must say you are following in the way of your Auntie Chiara and have a definite flair for telling a good tale. And I love your quirky sense of humor! I can understand how wonderful it feels to submerge your paws in wet cement. I imagine it's similar to women smearing mud on their faces in order to moisturize and purify their skin. Does cement do the same for your paws? Or do you just enjoy a bit of mischief now and again?

I'm really sorry your auntie rouses you from your restful slumber though I understand she has your best interest at heart. It's rather humiliating to wet the bed and we should respect our aunties' bedtimes so they can get plenty of rest. If Chiara is like me she can be a bit cross if her sleep is inadequate.

Whaddaya know? I also watched Michael Jackson's memorial service. It was surely touching. I wept several times.

Did you know cookies sometimes call my name? It reminds me of Snoopy as he claimed the same thing. I can so relate. Wow, Chiara's a bit stingy though. Half a cookie?! I suppose she wants you to stay trim with all that walking and only a small treat.

It sounds as if Auntie Chiara really amused you with her inability to find the dishwashing liquid or figure out the remote control. You are lucky to have such cheap entertainment.

Good talking to you. I know you will be happy to have some e-mail. Please give my greetings to your aunt. Tell her your American friend said you deserve another cookie for writing such a superb diary!

Best wishes!

Chiara said...

Countrygirl--I think you are right and the relationship is a process of mutual training helped by third party obedience classes. Your dog sounds adorable, and has excellent taste in fruit. Whisper is not fussy, but can smell and orange being peeled from the far corners of her home and comes running and begging. She does the same when a can of tuna is opened, and sometimes when I take out lettuce, as she thinks there is a good chance there will be tuna going into any salad that starts with romaine. :)

Thanks for your comment, and sharing your own experiences. What is your pet's name?

Chiara said...

Susanne-thank you for commenting on my post, and I am glad you enjoyed by diary. I taught Auntie Chiara whatever sense of humour she has.

It is true that I must be more patient with her foibles but next summer as there will be no walking (thank you Dr Cardiologist!) she will have to find me other amusements, and I will have more one-on-one time to train her properly.

I see we are on the same wave length about cookies. They often keep calling me from the cupboard, and I stand there waiting and waiting and no one clues in. I have to go outside and pretend to pee to get a reward for doing so nicely even though I take a water pill that leads to what they call "accidents" (though rarely). I call them human errors of comprehension of my clear signals to be let out. Hah!

Thank you for the email, I do appreciate it. I made Auntie Chiara read the extra cookie part. So far so, uh, parsimonious.

Chiara said...

PS A number of your more shy commenting friends have complimented me off the blog. Their comments are much appreciated, though it seems there are more humans to train in public expression of their admiration for me!


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