Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Up until my mom went on her trip to Great Britain, I hadn’t spent much time alone with Abby while awake, and what time I did was late at night when I was tired. When I arrived home, someone else was around so Abby’s attention was divided between me and whoever else was in the house. However once this trip was underway, I had Abby all to myself. At first I thought of her as being something to care for and keep alive until my mom returned home. But Abby had a way of demanding attention and usually got it. When my mom was at home, I tried roughhousing Abby but I was normally chastised for this behavior because my mom didn’t like the noise and commotion generated from all of our activity. She tried to achieve harmony and tranquility in her house. It was a miracle that she got the dog in the first place let alone a big floppy dynamo like Abby. My mom also claimed that my roughhousing and teasing made Abby mean. Who knows, maybe it made her more aggressive. Admittedly, I really didn’t know much about dog behavior so I didn’t have much ground to stand on in any response to my mom’s statement.
I soon discovered that it was fun to play with Abby. We played like we had before, but this time there was no one to keep us in check and tell us to cool it. What we had now was like before but amped up on steroids and amphetamines. Our play was high energy, robust and full-contact bouts of running, chasing and wrestling. My mom didn’t mind us playing hard outside but drew the line at such activities inside. Now we could play day and night, inside and out. I felt like a kid with a new puppy. I didn’t realize how fun puppies were until then.
Abby loved to be teased and would eventually relish it. There were many ways I’d get her going. If she had a toy in her mouth, I’d say, “Give me that”, and she would start growling and then crouch down and trot to me and run away real quick. When I repeated that command, she would run even faster and growl even louder. When I did take the toy away, I’d put it just out of her reach and watch her jump and bark in frustration at her attempts to get the toy. I would simply hold the toy up in the air just above her, or I’d put the toy on a shelf in plain view and say to her, “Give me that”. She would go nuts, but it was loads of fun for her.
She also liked it when I’d sneak in the back and hide from her. As mentioned earlier, it was difficult to break away from her, but when I did, I would go in one of the beds, go under the cover completely and yell Abby’s name. She would trot to the back while I would peak out of the blanket and watch her pass by the room I was in, and I would then yell her name again. She was in frenzy by this point, but eventually she found me and would dash to the bed, leap on it and start biting and slapping at me while trying to burrow under the blanket to get at me. We would wrestle and play for a few minutes and then return to the living room where we usually hung out inside the house.
Abby mastered the hide and seek game quickly. She learned to use her sense of smell to track me. I would see her get to the point where I had made a turn, and that was where she would stop, point her nose in the air, twitch it a couple of times and then head directly to me. To counter her new weapon in her arsenal, I would have to find better hiding places. One way was to hide behind the shower curtains in the bathroom. The first time I tried this, Abby would stop in the bathroom and stand there with a perplexed look on her face. Her nose told her that I was there, but her eyes said otherwise. When she left the bathroom, I would climb out of the shower, sneak up on her and grab her. Of course she was happy when she saw me and went nuts, but she caught on to that hiding space very quickly so it was on to something else to keep her entertained.
I also loved to tease her by putting a blanket over me, walking to the front and sneaking up on her. She would bark and growl and then start running around and jump on me. This was almost guaranteed to start a wrestling match. This was something I could not do with Andy or Father. Andy would get scared whenever I tried to tease him, especially when I disguised myself someway. He would growl but in a different way from how Abby did it. Abby’s growl was a playful fun display but Andy was truly scared and he would slink away from me and hide in his ‘sanctuary’, my mom’s bed. When I tried to tease Father, he either became scared like Andy or just plain confused.
Even when she was older and slower, she still liked to be teased. Her all-time favorite was “I’m going to get a little girl.” It was not only what I was saying but how I would say it that drove her nuts. I would say it in a low, slow, singy-songy way. She would become agitated when I first said “I’m” and by the time the words ‘little girl’ came out of my mouth, she was growling at me and then top it off with a loud bark. It was cute every time she did it.
For Abby, teasing gave her an outlet to release some energy, initiate play, socialize with me and a way to challenge me. She had as much fun being teased as I had teasing her. During that Great Britain trip and after, Abby wasn’t just a pet to me, she was a play-thing and a source of limitless amusement.