White Dog looked out the window and dove under the pillows. "Are we suddenly extras in the remake version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds?" she asked. "First the road runner that still makes you open the door a little slowly, and now this!"
He was sitting on the wall staring directly in the window. His beady little eyes seemed malicious and his movements were shifty. "STOP!" I said, "You have me turning an innocent bird who happens to be sitting outside the window into an insidious feathered conspirator!" "You laugh," WD mumbled.
Once we were up and breakfasting Puff showed Steve that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks. Our former puppy mill breeder turned Kansas yard dog came to us nearly feral and with no social skills. She is still the master of grab-and-run and is loyal to no one when it comes to snatching something she wants. Still Another White Dog is the one who will sidle up to one of the other WDA members as they eat and will physically push him or her away from the food bowl. Poor gentle Quinn and quiet uncomplaining Oso are generally her targets because they just politely move aside and let her finish their meal.
SAWD and I have had a battle of wills going for awhile now. When she steals someone else's treat or toy, I chase her down and retrieve it (often needing to stick my fingers into her mouth to do so). I make a dramatic point of returning it to whom it was taken and praising their continued enjoyment. Puff has gotten that but still has been unyielding about feeding time.
So we have learned "Leave IT!" a command that is not easy for any dog but which seems particularly hard for Eskies who want to know "Why should I?" and "What is in it for me?" and "What is your reasoning behind this crazy request?"
I would watch for the sidle and subtle hip check action, then announce "Leave IT!" and then push our determined girl's mouth away from the food. If she moved aside, she got a piece of kibble. If she persisted, I growled the order and moved to block her. We repeated this many many many times and for the most part she seems to understand.
Today was our first attempt to "go public" with this training. It is one thing when it is just the WDA and myself but add Steve or Michael to the mix and suddenly there is an audience to play to and humans to divide and conquer. Quinn was having a slow start and not really eating. Puff moved in to seize the opportunity. She looked at me and then at Steve who was closer in the kitchen. She took a step forward. "Leave IT!" I called. "Puff, Leave IT!" She looked for a moment like she was going to press the issue but then turned and trotted out to me.
"GOOD girl! That was VERY good!" I said rubbing behind her ears. She looked pointedly at the treat jar. I gave her a hug and unscrewed the lid to the jar. Instantly Puff was surrounded by YoYoMa, Nuka, and Oso. "No guys, this is for Puff. That was a very good Leave IT." I gave her the training treat. Steve was impressed and said so...just as our Little Miss swooped up to Quinn to play Round Two of Easy Treat Games!
P.S. White Dog and the rest of the White Dog Army would appreciate it if you could visit Michael's blog and leave encouragement. He has posted his first two photos, taken with his new camera, on the start on his journey to become a photographer. We are very proud of his start.