Archives for February 2014

Breaking the Routine

Yeah, I know, that whole post daily about stuff hasn’t been happening which I’m sure is no surprise to anyone. This is mostly because I haven’t really had anything worthwhile to report and I find it utterly depressing to post essentially the same status update repeatedly. Also, hunting for a job is a soul-sucking pit of despair that I figure no one wants to be burdened with my constant whinging on about.

Nevertheless, Brooke asked for some Uschi antics and there just so happened to be a funny thing I’ve been meaning to share.

In my experience, guide dogs really thrive on having a solid daily routine.1 It’s actually one of the few things about Uschi that is very shepherd-like because she very often makes it her mission that we stick to the predetermined schedule. Most notably when DST ended she started trying to drag me out of bed an hour earlier much to my chagrin.2

Of course, she wouldn’t be Uschi if she didn’t get distracted by everything so I have a few cues that I use to prod her along in our daily activities. And sometimes when I forget to use them I find her monitoring the neighborhood from her vantage point on the back of the sofa or, more commonly, flouncing around the house with a toy. I hadn’t realized how she had come to expect these things until the other day.

We had taken a short walk around my neighborhood and Uschi had stopped a few times to attempt to relieve herself before finally doing her business. I’d sort of given up prodding her along with the usual guide dog handler cue of “get busy” because clearly it was pointless and I knew she understood this walk was for exactly that anyway. When we returned home I removed her harness and leash and she started to run off in the direction of her crate anticipating her morning breakfast. Usually I prod her on with a cheerful “breakfast time!” as I take off my boots and coat. Instead, I said “get busy” and I probably wouldn’t have caught it if I wasn’t looking at Uschi exactly as it came out of my mouth.

She whipped her head around to look at me, which may have caused her to lose momentum in her bound or she was trying to skid to a stop anyway. But she wiped out on the hardwood floor in the dining room and spun around in a full circle before jumping back up and sitting down in that exact spot. It was truly one of the most hilarious things I have ever witnessed, but rather than immediately collapse into giggles I quickly amended my “command” and sent her running off to her crate again.

I know, you’re probably thinking that dogs don’t understand English so there’s no way Uschi could have thought I wanted her to do her business right there in the middle of the living room. And maybe you’re right, but then you weren’t there to witness the utter bewilderment I caused with a simple slip of the tongue.

Also, and not entirely related, but I was typing this up while Uschi was eating her breakfast this morning and honestly it is really unnerving to witness a dog devouring a bone-in piece of meat. Especially when it’s within earshot. Or, at least, I find it unnerving and I admit this might be in part due to the fact that I don’t eat meat.

  1. Daily routines are a pretty common thing for working dogs of all sorts and even pet owners benefit from having a schedule, especially if they have multiple pets.
  2. At least she isn’t as bad as Yara who pretty much constantly expected me to be five minutes earlier than I was for anything. She’s mellowed a bit in retirement, but she does still try to herd people out the door if she thinks there’s a chance she’s going somewhere.