Thursday, November 1, 2007

Couper Goes To Kindergarten - Homework Week 2

This week's homework has involved sitting and loose-leash walking. Rather than detail how that is going (for the record, it could be going better), today we shall talk about the steps we have to go through to just do our homework.

For the last three weeks (and for the next week and a half) we have been taking care of Couper's cousin Sammie. Sammie's Mommy is Couper's Mommy's sister and is off touring Europe. Sammie is part pug and part something else; roughly she is the same size as Couper. Sammie is a rescue dog. Sammie's Mommy has no idea how old Sammie is, but we estimate it at over 100. Not 100 in dog years. 100 year years. 36500 days. As in: if she could talk, she could tell us about the Roosevelt Administration. The Teddy Roosevelt Administration. The Roosevelt with the big mustache.

We worried how Couper would do with Sammie in his territory, but he has mostly been fine. Sometimes he gets a little jealous if Sammie is getting some attention and will try to nose her out of our reach. Also, he has, for whatever reason, decided that he needs to sniff her butt at least 5 times a day. I can't imagine the smell changes much. Is he expecting it to smell better than the last time??? This is either the working definition of optimism or insanity. Maybe both.

Sammie has also been good for the most part. Being 100 years old, she is not nearly as interested in playing as Couper is. That's not to say that she does not want to be included. Every once in a while, she will pick up one of Couper's toys (not tough to find one lying around) and "run" around with it. Once or twice a day, she will get jealous at the attention Couper gets while playing and let him know about it. Usually though, she is pretty content to take naps.

However, one thing that we have discovered that Sammie likes as much as Couper is yummies. This is apparently a new development (Sorry Sammie's Mommy). Like Couper, she now demands them after going potty outside. Despite her supposed deafness, she will run to the door when she hears "all puppys inside for yummies!" Maybe she has selected deafness, like her Uncle Big Buddy.

Sammie having yummies is all well and good, except for one thing; Couper's homework is 100% based on him getting yummies for learning his behaviors. When Sammie is in the room, she wants to be included in this yummy fest as well. It is difficult enough to teach a 5 year old new tricks, we don't even want to try to teach a 100 year old. Sammie gets upset at not being included and generally disrupts the proceedings. And the proceedings aren't proceeding well enough without disruption right now.

So to work with Couper privately, we have to trick Sammie, rush Couper into a room, and quickly close the door behind us. It is not nice. We do not like doing it. But it is what has to happen. Sammie sits outside the door whining and sometimes scratching, but that is less distracting than her being in the room and trying to steal reward yummies from Couper. However, when our session is over, we open the door to give her a little yummy fest of her own.

When we do our loose-leash walk homework with Couper, Sammie has to stay 4-5 steps behind. Otherwise Couper will always charge forward to take the lead. That is the exact opposite of what loose-leash walking is all about. With Couper 5 paces ahead, it is as if Couper is the king and Sammie the loyal subject. If only Couper had a long purple robe that Sammie could help carry.

All that being said, we do like Sammie and she is welcome to stay with us anytime. Even when she is 150 years old. I am sure she already thought we are strange. By no fault of her own, she picked an even stranger time to come visit.

In the end, Sammie is helping us accomplish a goal. By proving that Couper can co-exist with another dog, and with his new training (please let him graduate! please!!), hopefully we can get him a little sister next summer. Couper's Mommy insists on a girl and naming her Godiva. Big Buddy insists on a dachshund (we cannot afford another breed of dog...imagine all the lab merchandise there is to buy). And maybe someday when we are in Kindergarten with Godiva (well before she is 5 years old), we will have to trick Couper and close the door on him so that we can do Godiva's homework.

Non-Kindergarten related Couper/Sammie note:
One thing that Sammie and Couper do together that we do like is what we shall call crossfire peeing. Sometimes when we take them out to go potty, they each will go to separate parts of the yard to pee. When done, they cross each other's paths and each pees where the other one just finished. First off, we like it because it ensures that they both go #1. More importantly, it is wildly entertaining. Well, at least more entertaining than NBC Fridays.

Tomorrow, our long walk from the parking lot to class...wish us luck.

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