Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cooky Coo

I mentioned in this entry about one of the games Abby and I played inside. Some games played inside were not exclusively played indoors. We played ‘chasing games’ outside too, but because Abby was so much faster than I was, I had to do whatever I could to gain an advantage. There tricks were simply variations of what I did indoors—give myself a head start or find an object or thing to run around that would force Abby to slow down much more than me.

For example, if I was in the front yard, I would quietly make my way to the end of the house while Abby was distracted sniffing around the yard. After I had made a considerable gap between us, I would call out to Abby and start running to the back. Abby caught me almost every time. The fun of the game was watching her get excited when she started the chase and how happy she was when she caught up to me.

There was one chasing game where I had the advantage—running around the pool. While Abby was a puppy, she could catch me ~70% of the time, but when she became older and heavier, the odds favored me. Something I could do to help my odds was to change directions. This drove Abby nuts, and she would whine and cry sometimes in her frustration.

In addition to the ‘direction-change’ tactic, I had one last trick up my sleeve. I would climb to the top of the slide and stay up there for a few minutes. Poor Abby would start to cry and howl at me because she couldn’t get to me. I would further antagonize her by teasing her, telling her to ‘come here, baby girl’. But the thing that drove her over the edge was when I would cry out ‘kooky’ in a slow high-pitched voice. Abby would start baying at me because she was both excited and flustered at the situation.

The scene ended when I yelled loudly, ‘coo-coo’, and jumped into the pool. A mistake I made the first few times I did this was to surface too quickly... Abby would be in such a tizzy that she too would jump in right on the spot where I had landed. That was over a 100lbs of canine coming at me and it understandably hurt.

I learned quickly to stay underwater and wait for her to jump in and then come up. But even then, I wasn’t done teasing her. I would sometimes sit on the bottom of the pool for several seconds while she circled around directly overhead. She would not move from that area until I surfaced.

Once I came back up, I would huggy and kissy Abby and then swim a few laps with her.
I conditioned her to the point where merely saying ‘kooky’ would rile her up and we could skip the running around the pool part and get right to her getting excited part. Simply climbing up the slide and yelling ‘kooky coo’ would make her go bonkers.

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