Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sophie > Diary of A Southern Belle 6

Well it's been three months since I came to Ridgefield, Sophie might say if she could speak English.But she doesn't. Instead she talks dog and does it quite often with little provocation, thinking she is really communicating with us. In fact, I can actually hold a conversation with her. It goes something like this:

Are you a good girl? “Woof”.

Do you really think so? “Woof, Woof”

Do you want a biscuit? “Woof, Woof, Woof”

Wanna go for a walk? “Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof” (accompanied by extreme butt wiggling and jumping around).

Well, I may not understand her words but I sure understand the sentiment.

We've settled into routine and our own understandings about who's who and what's what. I get to go out the door first, Stella gets to eat in peace, I can doze a little longer by saying “later”, I don't get whacked with a paw for another chest scratch if I say “no more”.

We have watching the gate at about 5am to make sure the newspaper delivery car drives away.  We have the sunrise's bubbly greeting when we appear for breakfast (actually that's usually Carol). Then there's nap time in one of several spots: the sofa, the pomegranate Sherpa bed, a rug, the window seat or the hard wood floor (I haven't figured that one out yet).

After my 2nd cup of  coffee, an offer for a trip to the cottage / office is time for some enthusiasm because it means a small biscuit for her and Stella. Of course the office is only 300 feet away from the house but no matter, in the course of that trip, there are several stops to see if there are any really stupid squirrels waiting to be had.

Nope. OK.... I'm coming, I'm coming..... and we all troop into the office for more Bouv naps while I twiddle away at my computer.

But Sophie does checks the property periodically through the picture window next to her bed.  And if she spots anything, she follows it from window to window until I let her out for a quick & futile chase. But, boy, can she move fast.

It is funny to watch Sophie & Stella moving in concert. Sophie moves like a fully extending race horse, thundering down the track while Stella trundles along on those stubby little legs of hers. Nevertheless, Sophie keeps an eye on Stella.

Before coming into the house, Sophie will invariably turn around to see if Stella is following. And I noticed something really interesting at the dog park a few days ago.

(At this juncture, let me just say I don't really like dog parks but I have been taking Sophie (and Stella) there to observe Sophie's interaction with other canines.)

If I stand in one place, Sophie protects that territory so her only interaction is “Get away from my space!” which she expresses quite convincingly with a very hard, un-blinking stare just ooozing tough karma. Next a growl if that doesn't work & finally a limited chase to clear the area – the minimum to accomplish what it takes.

But you see, Stella never shares our space. She occupies her own space at a respectable distance from us so I watched, with some bemusement the other day, as Sophie kept an eye on Stella's space too, chasing off  'anyone' who got near her sister. It was very sweet.

Otherwise, Sophie is not into “playing” with the other dogs. Though attentive, she won't run with the pack. She won't chase a ball but she does hang out, sitting or lying before me. And she doesn't cause trouble unless trouble comes to her first. But, in all cases so far, I'm able to control her behavior with very slight modifications to my voice. (Generally, I only whisper commands). It is, however, clear to me that her priority is to guard me.

This became even more evident, by contrast, when I arrived to the Dog Park one day when no one else was there. And to my surprise, both Sophie & Stella quickly left my side, spread out and did a complete tour of the park's perimeter, turning only occasionally to see what I was up to.

On the other hand, riding in the back of my little beemer is a different story. It's quite confining. Stella (my autistic Bouv) MUST lie down in the back seat. Sophie, every alert, likes to sit so she can stick her head out the window or simply watch all the passing 'stuff'. Admittedly my car is NOT the car to transport two Bouvs in for long distances but it can be made to work for short distances & I've let the girls figure out how to manage the limited space.

So this morning, with Stella was in a particularly stubborn mood on her way to the body maintenance salon, she decided to stretch across the entire back seat. Poor, uncomplaining, Sophie was left to stand gingerly on the edge of the seat as I carefully drove to our rendezvous. But half way there, Sophie had had enough so she sat down on Stella. There was no skirmish or outburst but Stella got the message & sat up to give Sophie room. Ahhhh, the girls. I love the way they interact with each other.

One other quick observation that has nothing to do with anything. Truman was our food vacuum cleaner. Stella couldn't care less. But Sophie is our bowl cleaner. She licks ALL bowls clean and I do mean clean. They look like they've come out of the dish washer. And sometimes after dinner, I put our soup or dinner plate on the floor so Sophie can polish off what little is left. (These are not really fattening left overs as we eat very healthy.)

To end this edition of Sophie's Diary the way it began -- that is with communication -- I must relate the following:

We had finished eating dinner, had placed the plates on the counter & had left the kitchen to do something. When Carol returned to the kitchen, Sophie was sitting, staring at the counter where the plates were. As Carol walked in, the Soph let out a loud bark, still looking directly at the dinner plates. Only a real dummy could have misconstrued that message. And so it goes.....

Y'all come back now, ya heah!