Sophie tipping a waste basket illustrating last weeks post

The Rope Gripping Contest

Sophie Supervising David's Bath While Balancing on the Toilet

Sophie Shaw

And as a reminder, David’s cover for The Original Reigning Cats and Dogs: A Lighthearted Look at Pet’s and Their Owners

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Sophie Shaw has developed an annoying habit of tipping over virtually every waste basket she ever encounters. Whenever she comes upon one in our house she seems to take it as a duty to tip it over. She’s particularly fond of the ones in my dressing room and in the bathroom next to it. She sometimes pulls out some treasure — a discarded toothbrush or a scrunched up tissue — but the real joy is in the tipping. At night (just before the frenzied descent to her crate) she usually has to do some last gasp tipping or waste basket diving. She often tips the basket in my dressing room so deftly — I spot it on its side with no evidence that she’d ever been anywhere near it.

Once I took Sophie to my bank not realizing that there was a waste basket right next to the teller’s window where I was doing my transactions. Sophie spotted it and it was down in no time. At least she didn’t dive into it — which would have been even more mortifying than the tipping had been.

Something that gives me the willies about waste baskets is that may contain dangerous things like dental floss. I still remember the tense (and costly) time spent with one of our Scotties — Miss Lucy — at the after hours emergency vet after she managed to devour a great length of floss … but that’s another blog story. Suffice it to say I put the waste basket in the sink whenever Sophie feels the need to accompany  me when I have a bath. Yet another blog subject.

Love not Treats in Dog Training.

Conventional wisdom has it that treats aid in the training of dogs. And they do 99.9% of the time but not for my recently adopted three year old rescue shipoo, Sophie. When we got her, she came with bags of treats but refused to take them from me. She would sniff and inspect and then walk away. If I put them in her food bowl, she might eventually eat them.

At first we thought she was fussy but no matter what treats we bought, she would refuse them. The only thing she likes is her dentabone which she carries around with her from place to place. We’re not sure if she simply hides them or if she eventually consumes them as we have found them around the house.

So, its time for some professional training as we aren’t sure if she ever had any and she does need some discipline. Like most untrained dogs, she pulls on the leash, tends to run as mentioned in a previous post and jumps all over people when they come to visit.

First class, she absolutely refuses any treats no matter what they are when offered. Her teacher even pulled out some of her own smoked ham, presumably from her own lunch, and little Sophie, looked, sniffed, and walked away. Frankly, it broke my heart to see that good ham lying untouched on the floor. I was tempted but………….

What we did discover is that Sophie responds to love, attention, neck rubs and patting. Over the course of six lessons, she was walking quietly on her lead, sitting and staying for the required 30 seconds, coming to me when I called and then sitting. All this because at each milestone, she was praised and shown love and affection. The only thing she would not do was “down”. However, on the night of her last class and before her big graduating exam, two trainers managed to teach her the “down” command.

We were both anxious and concerned about the test but she passed and now has her very own diploma!

We’re still working on the over exuberance when anyone comes to visit but, at walk time, she sits at the door waiting for the leash to be attached. And, in the backyard, she comes when called even if she can’t actually see me. All done without treats – just a lot of love. Something we could all use.

I’ve never had a problem with this before but our new rescue dog, Sophie, is a runner. And, I discovered this the hard way. At three, this shipoo mix has likely not had an easy life. Until now of course, We gather that she was owned by an elderly lady who either died or went into a nursing home. Sophie was taken in by a relative who did not look after her properly. She was so matted and tangled that she had to be sedated to be groomed and a couple of her back nails had grown into the pad and had to be surgically removed.

Despite all this, she is a very loving and sociable dog. We picked her up from the rescue organization at 7:00 PM on a Friday night which, in retrospect, was not a good time. By the time we got home with her and did all the introductions, it was bedtime. I did take her for a short walk around the block and then got her settled in a crate in our bedroom. She glared at us for a few minutes and then curled up and went to sleep.

The next morning, she was up at 5 – a bit early for even a morning person like me – but understandable. I let her out in the yard and, when she came in, I went to the front door to retrieve my morning paper. As I was bending over to pick it up, I caught sight of a furry blur race by me, down the front path and along the street. Dressed in my bathrobe and slippers, I gave chase as best I could given a severely damaged arthritic ankle that requires a brace.

Drivers of the few cars that are out at 5:30 in the morning must have had quite a site. Fortunately, Sophie decided to re-explore the exact same route we had taken the evening before. I managed to catch up to her at the 3rd corner where she stopped to sniff some interesting bushes. I scooped her up and carried her the rest of the way home.

Over the course of the next few days, she helped me to learn of numerous escape paths out of what I thought was a completely fenced in and enclosed back yard. The first occurrence was later that same day when I heard my next door neighbour say, “look here’s Sophie” when I thought she was exploring behind the tool shed. All her escape paths are now blocked, I hope. But then she made a dash out the front door and down the street. My son managed to catch up to her about four blocks away when she stopped to talk to another canine.

A few people have suggested that rescue dogs tend to run until they are comfortable enough in their new home. My dog groomer told me of a rescue dog that she had who took two years to stop bolting. We are attending training classes as well and a suggestion was made that if the dog does not return, turn your back and start walking away. Dogs think that chasing them is a game but, because of their pack instinct, they will not want you to leave them.

I’m hoping to never have to test that. I’d love to hear what others have to say about running and rescue dogs or any other aspect of this problem.

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