Friday, January 27, 2012

Sophie - Diary of a Southern Belle - Week 3

Sophie has learned 'gentle', 'me first', 'go around','later', 'wait', "paw", sit until released to eat. She now asks permission to come up on the sofa. She is reticent to 'down', get groomed, have her nails done or to stay home.

She talks, plays & is extremely communicative using her paws to grab an arm for a scratch, barking to be let in.

I am now 100% convinced that this is a good match with the ever retiring Stella Bella.

Where once upon a time, Sophie thought she could eat from Stella's bowl if she was there or not, Sophie now voluntarily walks away from the eating area until Stella is finished and has walked away from her dish before re-approaching the bowls for her water or a final lick.

While Sophie is content to be inside, she frequently likes to sit by the window to see what's going on. Her bone is constant enjoyment & I am now going to try to interest her in the food Kong as I think she might learn to play if she knew she could.

I can get her to play with my hand, she starts wriggling, barking & jumping around. It's clear she is playing with me. A welcome distraction both of us. However, the other day, while playing rough house with her, I must have crossed the line for because she flopped on her back in surrender in the middle of the lawn.

Stella, on the other hand, has become a little more active (remember she is 13). It's funny to watch the two of them run in tandem, Sophie on those loooong slender legs & Stella on her stubby little tree trunks. But it's all good & Sophie keeps track of Stella's whereabouts when they are out together.

While Sophie seems to yawn a lot, she is no couch potato.She gets exicited when she sees the leash & sits for it to be attached or if let out on her own. She's still not totally comfortable in the car but learning that she can lie down on the seat but is not confident enough to do that when we're moving.

While on the property, Her recall is getting better & better. I want to take her to a fenced area -- like our local dog park -- let her go & while she's playing & try it there.

The Soph is doing better in town. The cars don't activate her prey drive. She is watchful of people, allows strangers to pet her but doesn't get involved in the process, i.e. she'd walk away in a nano second if I asked her to. In offices or stores, if it's a prolonged visit, she will lie down despite foot traffic.

Walking down the sidewalk is another story. She seems over stimulated, sometimes to a point of not listening well. She's not totally overcome but it's close. But if I sit down on a bench, she sits quietly or lies down & watches people, cars, fire engines, children, dogs walk by without much reaction, i.e. she seems calm. I haven't figured this out yet but I'm working on it.

In the house, she now checks out all the rooms on her own if she hears a strange noise or if called. This may not seem like much but in her prioor life, she was allowed access only to one or two rooms & (from her actions) I surmise she was struck/beaten if she entered any other room.

She is beginning to guard under door frames & is actively tryingt to make friends with Stella. She kisses/licks her when she allowed but I'm not sure if she is cleaning stella's eyes or ears of some yummy stuff or it's affection. In either case, it's better than the alternative.

The following has happened twice now so I know it's a routine. Around 3:30pm if I'm in the office with the girls, Sophie comes close to where Stella is sleeping, sits down & stares at her from the foot of the sherpa bed. That NEVER works so Soph walks around to the front of the bed & puts her paw on the bed itself. Stella thoroughly ignores this.

The first time Sophie tried this, she started to prance around & made a mistake of nudging Stella with her nose who gave her what-for with some teeth. Nothing serious, no sound. Sophie tried again. This time Stella escalated & just missed a bite.

So Yesterday, Sophie -- who learns VERY fast, went through the first two steps & then just lay down right next to Stella's bed -- on the floor -- patiently waiting for Stella to rise from her nap.

My guess is that she's trying to get Stella up so we can all go get something to eat as I try to feed them around 4-4:30pm.

Sophie is providing us both with much pleasure & laughter. Watching a 120# Bouv try to make herself invisible as she slinks towards a squirrel is funny to watch. She moves in slooooow motion, first one leg.....then another.....then another as she inches forward before the final dash. When the squirrel finally sees the black Humvee closing in, it scrambles up the tree at which point Sophie sits under the tree & patiently waits.

We continue to give her things to learn & she does. Meanwhile, she is familiar with the family routine & is becoming more possessive of the property & us.

Upon returning to the house -- having left Sophie behind -- she greets me so very excitedly that I feel guilty/sorry because she seems grateful that I haven't abandoned her. I have to find a way to assure her that I am hers & she is mine.... forever.