Just over a year ago, Dudley joined the Atwater Group.
|Dudley's the one in the purple collar.|
The moments leading up to the realization that 1) he's going for a car ride and 2) it's to a fun place (where he gets to sniff doggy butts and not where they do unspeakable things to his butt) are amusing and frustrating.
The first clue that he's headed for a car ride is the simple act of picking up his car harness. I've decided, after several dogs and several instance of less than safe driving, that dog harnesses are the way to go. The harness sits on a little cart by the kitchen door. Now, we don't actually take Dudley out the kitchen door, so I'm not sure why the harness lives there, but that's where it is. And God forbid you accidentally touch it while reaching for something else on that cart. Dudley is trained...attuned, if you will...to hear the soft clink of the snaps on that thing.
This morning, I picked up the harness, and as expected, Dudley appeared at the top of the steps in the office and looked at me. The stubby tail went swoosh, swoosh, swoosh like a rapid-fire windshield wiper. At my nod, he shot down the stairs. He preceded to run around in circles at my feet - the international sign of Yes! Yes! Yes! I called him into the bedroom, had him get up on the bed so I could get the harness around his squirming body. This process takes a few minutes. He cannot stand still - at all. He wiggles; he jumps up to kiss my face; he jumps off the bed to head to the door - even if the harness isn't completely on him yet.
I finally get the harness hooked up and the leach on him. I suppose I don't really have to put a leash on him for the purpose of getting him to the car. He's so jacked up at this point, any vehicle will do. In fact, he'll often try to run to ANY car in the driveway...kind of like the Price Is Right - which door will magically open and transport him to heaven on earth? But, I err on the side of caution because he still doesn't respond all the time when we call his name. He's improved over the last year, but he's inconsistent in his listening skills.
I open the front door. This is the door I always take him out of, but when it's car ride time, he drags me down those two front steps and turns towards the parked cars instead of meandering down the path for our walk. A new addition to our regular walking path is a bird feeder. And you know what bird feeders mean, right? Squirrels, of course! Just as I had opened the door, a squirrel dropped down from the bird feeder and took off into the woods.
In his excitement, Dudley pulled and yanked and dragged me toward the scurvy coward. In the two seconds it took to get halfway down the path, where we had to veer left to go to the car or right to continue the squirrel hunt, I said, "Dudley, we are going to DAYCARE." I didn't shout. I didn't yell. But I let that last word hang in the air.
The forward momentum stopped. His face contorted. I could see the debate in his mind: Squirrel. Must protect against squirrel. Must chase squirrel. Daycare. Must go in car. Must play.
Without loosing any enthusiasm, he veered left and ran to the car.
So I am working without my assistant today, but I know he'll be back on duty tomorrow.