White Dog chuckled. “The Tiny Mouse roars, apparently!” Sometime yesterday afternoon Bella’s courage level reached slingshot point sending her flitting like a hummingbird all over the office, living room and kitchen. Her breathless pace as she explores is charming and, like a mouse, she quickly scurries back to the safety of hiding if there is sudden movement or if she is startled.
She seems to love stalking Steve, following him at a discreet distance and scampering away if he acknowledges her. TWD has already learned that the kitchen is where food comes from. In fact our Tiny White Dog was spotted LEAPING for the countertop where bowls were resting waiting for dinnertime. Taiko wanted to be sure he would not be blamed if through some miracle our new baby managed to actually snag an edge; she came surprisingly close.
We are all delighted to see her curiosity overcome her fear and to discover that she is tremendously motivated by food rewards. Using trails of kibble, Steve has been able to lure Bella out to the middle of the room where she will sit and wait for him to back away before grabbing the piece left; she will then pause waiting to see if there game will continue. And she is not afraid to let the others know how she feels about sharing in this game…or about their “vulturing” attempts. When Puff tried to share the Kibble Trail, Bella snapped and let out a little growl. Since she is still getting adjusted we are being a bit lenient on good manners (as I explained to Puff as I slipped her a few treats). The Roaring Mouse also had no problem shoving in next to YoYoMa at the water bowl; he politely moved so she could share.
This morning as White Dog and I enjoyed the warmth of deep snuggling in the blankets we felt a very wee mass land on the bed. There at the bottom where my feet rested sat Bella! She nestled herself against my legs and surveyed the kingdom. Then in a flash she flew off the bed and out of the dog door!
We have counted on her timidness to postpone her discovery of the portal until we felt she was more receptive to actual training. Our yard is large with a big deck open on the underside, agility equipment in one section, and tall plantings at the back perimeter. There are plenty of places to hide that are difficult to extract a pup who doesn’t want to come out and who has no recall training. That is why we built the little potty run this past weekend.
My call of “Escape in Progress” and WD’s barking brought Steve, YoYo and Taiko from the other room. All of them had to look out of the door to see the saucy Little Miss proudly checking out the ramp to the yard before they believed us. Steve pushed open the dog door and called her. She looked at him and barked back, tail wagging in invitation. As he called again the boys pushed past him to outside. The chase was on!
Steve quickly put on shoes and joined what was now clearly a game of chase, hide, flush, and chase. He finally caught Bella and brought her up to the dog door. “This is how you go IN!” he explained. Before he had fully stood up, Tiny White Dog was back OUT.
“This is a problem,” Steve said carrying her in this third time. “It is my late night and Michael does not get home until five. You cannot chase her. She wasn’t supposed to try the door yet.” Bella squirmed in his arms, eyes locked on the little window rectangle.
“You should both know that the White Dog Army NEVER does anything on your schedule,” White Dog contributed.
“I could run to the hardware store and put up chicken wire.” Steve suggested. “That would take all weekend and besides I would worry that she would wiggle through some slit of an opening and then be trapped,” was my answer. “I could take her to work?” “A flight risk like her? Not a good idea and crating her will bring traumatic memories of her breeding days. Nope.” “Well we can’t lock down the door because it is not fair to the rest of the WDA.” “No, and we can’t gate her in a room by herself because we all need access to the kitchen, the office, the bathroom, and the bedroom.”
Taiko lay down across the dog door. “Nice idea, Big Boy, but you can’t stay there all day and she is just feisty enough that she might be rude in her demands.”
Bella was now sleeping on the bed totally unconcerned with our dilemma. “OK Nuka, you sent this handful to us. What should we do?” I asked. It took Nuka WEEKS to muster the bravery to push her way in and out.
Steve and I worked on a quick 20 minute introduction to dog door protocol passing the now leashed Miss Bella back and forth. Out was certainly more to her liking than in, but we made a start.
All afternoon and until Steve gets home Tiny White Dog gets to wear her harness and drag a leash. At least that way I have some kind of chance should I need to hunt her down and bring her in.
It is now after dinner and all has gone without incident. Overnight we will do what we did when Puff was an unpredictable runner; TWD and her patient mentor, Oso, will be baby gated in the office where they will not be able to reach the cold night freedom.
Tomorrow Steve will continue to work on out and IN with a blossoming shy girl…makes me wonder the hellion that lies behind the timid mouse mask.