Spring officially came last week and with it a lot of changes. Let me pause here to note that “spring” is a relative term. Last week that meant only one snow storm and one night with record-breaking low temperatures. However, in spite of the fact that the snow was very heavy and very wet, there was only about 3″ of it and I decided to let it melt rather than shovel it or have it plowed. Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to take the puppies out every day to get them used to the outdoors, to get some sun, and to get a better grip on outdoor elimination (as we say in the trade). Although this seems like a simple enough procedure, I probably put more planning into these trips than went into the invasion of Iraq. I started to write about all the logistics involved, but realized it would take pages or I deleted it. Suffice it to say, I estimated it would take me so much time to get them and all their paraphernalia out and back in that it wouldn’t be worth it. Instead, I just put on a baggy coat, smoosh all three of them together, and wrap the coat around them for support. Once we get outside, I turn them loose and the fun begins.
Sunday was a gorgeous day and the snow was still melting so the puppies had lots to explore. Although playing “King of the Snow Mountain” and “Let’s Sneak Around to the Back of the House and Watch the Old Girl Stagger After Us in the Deep Snow” kept them busy for a while, by far the favorite game was “Chase Your Brothers Through the Puddles and Slush.” In addition to what it’s name implies, the latter also includes stomping in said slush and water to see what happens, with its corollary being”America’s Favorite Puppy Dirtbag,” which involves running full-speed at “She Who Might or Might Not Be Obeyed” and leaping on her to confirm one’s grubby status. Because jeans or sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and LL Bean boots have been my at-home ensemble all winter, this wasn’t that much of an issue.
At this point I could describe how ecstatic I was when various puppies defecated or urinated outdoors, but I do not want to provide further proof of the limited life I lead.
The other newsworthy event this past week was introducing BeeBee to Ollie outside of the pen. From the beginning, I’ve allowed her to sniff all of the pups and to have her front paws on my lap when I checked them daily. Although she never did anything harmful, BeeBee is BeeBee; because of her deafness and visual problems, she lives in a world in which things can appear and disappear without warning and sometimes this upsets or frustrates her. And because she’s so low to the ground, there isn’t a piece of furniture in my place that a puppy could go under to escape that she couldn’t get under, too. Still, I knew I had to introduce them downstairs where it was more open and away from the rest of the pups.
But I chickened out. Or rather, semi-chickened out. Because the image of what Watson did to Bee was still fresh in my mind, I knew I couldn’t trust my emotions not to interfere in any evaluation of Ollie-Bee interaction. In that case, my fear could turn what otherwise would have been a neutral or positive encounter into something negative. Hoping to avoid that, I invited best buddy Ann over to observe the action with me because I knew she would have the objectivity that I might not. So she held BeeBee and I brought Ollie downstairs and after a few minutes Ann tactfully observed that Bee was a very “drivey” dog, which is one of those terms that elicits images of an out-of-control-freight train. This is actually pretty accurate if you think about it because corgis are working dogs and like all working dogs they’re more aggressive. This isn’t to say that they’re more violent, but rather than they’re more responsive to changes in their environment. If you imagine a 25-35# dwarf bred to herd cattle, I’m sure you can appreciate the value of this. However, when the change to which you’re responding is a 3.5# pup who, in Bee’s reality, conceivably silently pops in and out of her visual field, an increase in the level of reactivity to keep track of this new addition is the logical response.
That increased reactivity extends to her paws and BeeBee doesn’t use her paws like other dogs, either. Because she lacks the fine motor skills and coordination to easily lift one paw and lightly bat another dog in play, she either hits with both paws or throws herself on the other dog. The more aroused she is, the more energy she puts into these displays.
Ann and I watched the two of them a little longer and then both agreed that BeeBee needed a Gentle Leader head collar to, we hope, help take the edge off. And, in fact, it settled her down a great deal and she barely resisted the message. So for about a week, I’d take Ollie downstairs and let him run around while I held a leash attached to Bee. She knows the signal for “Gentle” and I had to use that initially, but then I realized that, aside from using that nose of hers like a shovel, she was no rougher on Ollie than Fric was. Still I hesitated to let go of the least, let alone let the other pups out with her.
Until today. It began last night when the puppies had so much energy they just about destroyed the pen. Every paper that could be reached was shredded. Everything that could be tossed or stomped on was. Every loud noise that could be made was. More exercise was obviously needed. To remedy that, I took them outside to run and run and run and run some more, including up and down the plow mound and even over the lower parts of the woodpile. When they all had their little tongues hanging out, I stuffed their soaking wet bodies into my coat and brought them in. Bee was very interested in then as usual when I went out, but she stayed when I told her to. Ditto when I returned. Later, I was working in the office and the puppy frat house got into full swing behind me again. Because I wasn’t getting any work done anyhow–puppy chaos is not conducive to putting together a presentation on pet loss–I took Ollie downstairs for his daily dose of Aunt Bee. Each day she’s gotten better and fueled by the memory of last night’s rowdiness, I brought her and Ollie back up to the office and got the other pups out of the pen, too. As soon as I did that, she started trying to herd them, probably because they look herdable, kinda like the tribbles in that famous Star Trek episode. But Bee quickly discovered that, quite unlike the tribbles who only wanted to please, the puppies had no desire to do anything so, so bovine.
It started with the biggest puppy sizing Bee up while Fric watched.
Then the attack began and it was merciless. My worst nightmare was coming true. No, wait. That’s not a defenseless puppy being attacked. That’s two rowdy puppies attacking poor Aunt Bee! Ho-hum says Fric.
Oh, the canine carnage! Here you can see the puppy formerly known as Peanut Buttercup now known as Finnegan launching an aerial attack while Ollie comes in for the kill.
And a great time was had by all.
If BeeBee wasn’t sound asleep on my foot, I’d get up and take one last picture of them all zonked out.
So all that worry for nothing. Still, I know myself enough to know I could not have done it any other way. Now the puppies have a new playmate and, if I’m lucky, she’ll tire them out before bedtime tonight. And every night from now on.