Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Pet Therapy

Pets are the absolute BEST! I've written about my dog before, and I can't say enough about having a great dog. Our dog, Cheeky, is beautiful and generally well-mannered. She is a mutt, a lab cross, and probably not every one's 'beauty.' But she's ours.

The summer she turned one, our other dog, Lady, broke her hip and became paralized. She could not be healed and we had to let her go. Lady was a super smart dog. She was a gentle, well-mannered border collie cross, a pure bred farm dog. We could let Lady off leash anywhere, in the middle of lots of dogs or a supermarket of raw meat and she still would have come when we called.

Lady was the alpha of the Cheeky and Lady pair. So much so, that when we lost her we were very surprised to learn how much she influenced Cheeky. All along through her first year, we'd thought that Cheeky was listening to us. However, within days of losing Lady we discovered that Cheeky didn't have a clue about what we were saying. Sit, stay, come, even her name meant nothing. She'd taken all of her clues from Lady.
At  first, before we figured this out, we started to wonder if Cheeky was actually a bit stupid. Luckily we didn't write her off and make that judgment hastily. Within a few weeks she was able to obey all of the commands that Lady had, plus more. The funny thing is that since we're now a one dog family we tend to talk to her a lot more. I talk to her as if she should understand everything I say. 

What that has translated to is a dog who understands more words than we could have ever imagined. Even when I spell the word walk she understands. Her vocabulary has really gotten quite large.

Cheeky is also a stubborn dog. She's getting older and has arthritis. She knows exactly how far she'd like to walk and when we get to her limit she turns around and won't go any further. She isn't fond of small dogs who are yappy, although there are a few neighbour dogs who are very good friends of hers. She is always very happy to see them. Those small yappy dogs are ones she used to be ones she'd be patient for, but now she just turns up her nose and walks away. If they keep on following her she barks at them.
Cheeky also loves kids. Even though she does have pain in her hip she always lets kids pet her and hug her. She doesn't seem to mind them at all. There are a few that catch a school bus right on our corner. She loves to watch them out our living room window and if one of us is home during the day, she seems to know the right time to be out on the front steps so that she can be there for pets from the kids.

Even though she has a limit as to how far she'll walk these days, Cheeky is also great for me. With her arthritis we always make sure that she gets two walks a day. We usually take her for at least a half hour walk in the morning and after work. That way I get out for at least a half an hour a day, minimum, too. When it isn't too hot out, she's comfortable walking farther. When she can't walk too far I often bring her home and then I take a longer walk without her.

Cheeky doesn't let her arthritis stop her from stalking squirrels, either. She's never caught one, but she loves to chase them and if we let her she'd sit at the base of a tree staring up at one for the whole day if we let her. She also likes to sniff out gophers and dig in their holes until her head has disappeared into the gigantic hole she's made.

She also doesn't mind if I write a post about her, or put her picture up, even if her eyes look kind of funny in the one picture. :-)

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