This is a tale of how quickly things can go awry when dealing with a dog who is smart enough to know that the sight of my tennis shoes means she is about to go somewhere but too stupid to know she can’t actually catch and eat the point of a laser light.
Lucy the beagle was easily trained when my daughter Shannon first brought her home two years ago. If you offer her a treat — Lucy, not Shannon — she will shake, lie down and roll over all at the same time just to be sure she covers all her bases.
If I am giving her a belly rub and stop for a moment, she reaches out to touch me with a paw to say, “Don’t stop,” and will continue to “touch,” more and more urgently, until I resume.
If I exit the bedroom wearing work clothes with heels or sandals, Lucy looks at me from her perch on the living room chair and gives a sigh so heavy her body deflates. This is a stay-inside day. But when she sees me grab my tennis shoes, she leaps up and, ears at attention, gazes at me with such hope that I have trouble disappointing her.
I do not, however, have trouble teasing her. Often, I will casually bring my walking shoes into the living room, put them on and tie them, all while focusing on the TV and completely ignoring the silently begging pup in front of me.
After a few minutes, I look at her as if I just noticed her and say, “Lucy wanna…”
She starts to turn in circles and salivate.
“Lucy wanna go…” I say.
She prances, unable to contain herself. “…for a walk?”
And she’s off. She becomes a blur as she runs figure 8s through the living room, around the kitchen table, leaping over an errant cat, until she suddenly brakes in front of me long enough for me to hook her leash.
This is the same dog that barks incessantly at the sounds of acorns dropping in the woods behind our house and that will attempt to eat the cat’s hairball if I don’t pick it up fast enough.
I haven’t decided if she’s so smart, she’s stupid … or vice versa.
The other day, I decided it was time to give Lucy a bath. It is not a fun endeavor because she doesn’t like baths and because she does figure 8s through the house as soon as she gets out of the tub, sending water flying everywhere.
Lucy is generally a house dog, so I wait until the right time, such as after she decided that rolling around in the kitty litter box would make a nice exfoliating treatment.
I also typically check the forecast. It’s like washing a car. You don’t want to waste your efforts. If it’s wet out, when Lucy comes and goes to do her business outdoors, she manages to get mud all the way up to her ears. So when I saw a clear week ahead, I went for it.
I knew I had to be stealthy. If Lucy sees the bottle of doggie shampoo, she may disappear for days.
While Lucy was in the backyard that afternoon, I took the shampoo bottle, a rinse cup and a towel into the bathroom.
When I let Lucy back in the house, she looked up at me and … took off running. Yep, she headed straight under the bed and hid.
Some people have pets that can sense if their human is about to have a seizure, or if they need to be rescued from fires.
I have a dog who can smell bath water before it’s even turned on.
I guess we can’t choose our talents.
I sat casually on the bed for a few minutes to show Lucy my intentions were not evil. I expected her to jump up to snuggle beside me, as she always does, and I would say, “Ah ha!”
She didn’t budge.
I began calling her.
I offered a treat.
Finally, I got down on my belly and grabbed her collar and began to pull her from beneath the bed. She dug in her paws and wrestled away from me, scooting deeper into the darkness under the bed.
“Fine.” I went into the living room to watch TV and wait her out.
After an hour, I began to think this dog was much smarter than me. Then I put on my shoes and picked up her leash. When she heard the jangle of the clip, she came running.
I am not so mean I grabbed her and threw her in the water right then. I don’t want to scar her for life.
“Lucy wanna go for a ride in the car?”
We rode to the store to do an errand and as we pulled back into the driveway, Lucy may have begun to sense her mistake. I had her in the car, on a leash, and she had no way out.
We walked into the house and she immediately planted her paws and refused to budge no matter how much I tugged on her leash.
Sighing, I scooped up her bulky body, wobbled into the bathroom and closed the door.
Lucy looked up at me, her eyes deep pools of accusation, then she sighed with resignation and hopped into the tub, where she stood quietly until the shampoo was completed.
“Good girl, Lucy,” I cooed while toweling her semi-dry. Then she took off, zigging and zagging the water from her back. Finally, she collapsed on a towel on my bed, where she lay until we both drifted off to sleep.
I was exhausted from my exertions and exhilarated by my stunning victory. I slept until about 5 a.m., when I awoke to a loud rushing sound coming from outside the bedroom window.
Not just rain. A deluge.
If I didn’t know better, I would have said Lucy was smirking at me.
Or maybe she just ate another fur ball.