Happy 11th Birthday Dixie
When our dog Daisey was one year old,We decided she needed a companion. We went to see a litter of pups. I was suppose to get to choose the dog this time, because Hubby chose Daisey the last time. The puppies were penned up on a heated porch/boot room. The litter was awake and playing energetically. There was this one little puppy that just stood out from all the rest. This puppy placed it’s back against the corner of the wall for leverage so that it could climb up the chicken wire of the home made dog pen. The puppy reminded me of a rock climber. It kept climbing over the gate to get to us. Every time I put it back in the pen, before it fell on to the floor. I was worried that it would injure itself. The puppy would stubbornly start climbing all over again as soon as I placed it’s feet on the floor. The tenacity of this puppy caught my attention and made me laugh. I picked the puppy up and held it to discover it was a little female. Once I looked into those eyes, I fell in love. I thought this is an intelligent little puppy. My husband had fallen for a little black litter mate, but I insisted on the little climber. We brought her home.
I was right she has been an exceptional little dog. She taught herself how to open doors by watching us pull down on the handle and pushing the door open. Then she learned how to pull a door open by walking on her hind legs and pulling the handle while walking backwards to open the door. We were in awe of her.
We lived on the 5th floor of an apartment at that time. When she was about 8-10 months old, she started really showing us what she could do. One day I had been running in and out of the apartment doing laundry. I locked our door and stepped into the elevator. When I stepped out of the elevator door on the ground floor entry hall, Dixie was sitting there wagging her tail waiting patiently for me. She had one of her famous wolfish grins on her face. That is when we discovered she learned how open the deadbolt latch with her mouth and let her self out of the apartment. This was another trick she taught her self by watching us lock the door from the inside.
She learned how to step on the trash cans foot peddle to open the trash so she and Daisey could inspect it’s contents. I realize that people train their dogs to do these things, but we had to train her not to do these things unless asked.
Dixie has always thought of herself as a little lap dog despite her size, when she was a small puppy Hubby use to carry her tucked in his jacket. She would surprise people, when she stuck her head up from inside his jacket. She sleeps next to my hubby in our bed every night. She lays under the covers with her paws hanging outside the cover and hanging her feet off the bed. She whines and nudges him, when she is tired and she wants him to go to bed for the night. She can’t seem to fall asleep for the night with out him. I have never had a dog like Dixie. She is more independent like I have often heard cats described.
When she was younger she placed me 3rd on our pack’s order. Hubby was first, then her, me and then Daisey. She would stubbornly ignore my commands. She would look at Hubby to get her queue from him (a nod), if she should follow my commands. I found this maddening. Hubby did not teach her to ignore me. It was all her own doing, but he subtly encouraged this behavior. It took patience on my part to teach her our packs correct pecking order. I had to explain to my hubby that he need to help me to get her to accept her place in our pack. I realized he found this humorous, but we needed harmony in our home. It is funny how things sometimes turn out. I am sure you have understood Dixie became Hubby’s dog. As fate would have it, Daisey turned out to be my dog.
My dogs were well trained in everything except on a leash. They would walk fine until we met another person or dog owner that we knew. They would get all excited and say hello. We had a neighbor who had a very calm sweet dog called Lacey . Lacey’s owner was a nice lady, but a little snobbish about her pure bred dog. We were only acquaintances. Lacey’s did not understand that my dogs were trained to go free in the woods. I had never trained them to walk in down town around busy traffic. She keep telling me how well Lacey was doing at dog course in our neighborhood. That I should enroll them in that course. I explained I have tried for the last 3 years, but the instructor said the class was already too full. She helped to get our dogs into agility and obedience course that I had tried for 3 years to get into. Daisey was 3years old and Dixie was 2 years old when they took their first obedience and agility course.
The first class Hubby was ill and could not attend. I do not remember why, but I decided to take Dixie alone to the class. Now I remember I thought it would help me to get Dixie to obey me better. That was a big mistake. Dixie and I met the class in a horse menagerie. Dixie was only interested in tracking and eating horse droppings from the moment we walked on to the menagerie. It was a fiasco. She totally ignored me with her nose to the ground. She acted like a bloodhound tracking a scent. She pulled me all over the place. Pulling her leash, dog treats.. did not break her concentration. I was tired and hurting when the class ended not to mention extremely embarrassed. The woman who helped us get into the class did not make things better. She was talking loudly in the background telling everyone I told you she needed to come with her dogs. These dogs have no training what so ever… Now I understood how she got the instructor to agree to let us in this class.
I talked with the instructor and told her that if they were going to have courses here we could not continue. Dixie’s tracking instinct took over and I couldn’t distract her or stop her. I had her favorite dog treats with me. The dog treats didn’t break Dixie’s attention from the horse scent she was tracking. That nothing broke her concentration. I explained that she is my husbands dog. She follows his instructions and no others. I thought that if I worked with her in this class that I would get her to obey me better. She said she understood after watching me struggle during class. They changed the venue.
When I got home tired, limping and drenched in sweat. Dixie ran in with her head down low. She knew she was in trouble. I was fit to be tied. Hubby asked how did it go? I was mad at Dixie for hurting my back. I told him that we met in a horse menagerie. That Dixie wouldn’t listen to a word I said. All she wanted to do was track down horse shit and eat it… He was laughing. I told him about our neighbor’s derogatory comments… He just laughed till he cried….
I told him we are suppose to meet them in a week. Dixie hid between his legs as I told him what a fiasco the class had been. Dixie had never been around horses before and instinct just took over. I seriously debated not to continue the course. Hubby finally got me to laugh about it, after I took a hot bath. I said alright we will go, but you are taking Dixie and I am taking Daisy next time.
The next class was in a large field. Dixie, Daisey, Hubby and I attended together. Dixie was first of our dogs to try the agility course. Dixie ran through one obstacle and then run to all the dog owners say hello get treats and then come back for the next obstacle. It was like her victory run. She played the little social butterfly. Every one thought she was absolutely adorable. Some obstacles she didn’t even attempt and others would take time for her to learn. She loved going to the classes to meet dogs and owners. The obstacle course was quickly boring. It was like been there, done that. What is next? She showed her skill by pushing on a peddle and making a ball pop out. You could tell her to run to get some one from long distances. She is a good tracker. She was extremely social animal.
Daisey who loved to please on her first run through the agility course, ran up the teeter totter and down. Up and over the high scaffolding. Up and over everything the first try… When she went to Jump through the ring she jumped through frame but not the ring. I told her to do it again and she jumped through the hoop. I put my hand through the hoop to show her to jump through here. All this was done off leash. I restarted twice on the polls they zigzag through. Daisey figured it out and finished the course. Everyone was speechless especially My neighbor. I had no idea but apparently for her first attempt that was exceptional.
The instructor asked us if our dogs had gone to classes before. We answered no. Dixie’s behavior in the first class was all forgotten and topped off as an anomalies. I explained what we had trained them to do at home and in the woods. She talked to us about competing with the dogs…. Our neighbor never spoke ill of my dogs again. Apparently her dog was afraid of heights and was still trying to learn the agility course after 3 years in this class.
We loved these dogs courses as much as the dogs did in the end. We met a nice group of people and their dogs. Our dogs absolutely loved attending the dog classes. It is a great way to bond with your dog. I think the greatest benefit is getting to get your dog to obey you, despite other people and animals being around them….
It has been a great 11 years with Dixie. She has filled our lives with laughter, joy, lives lesson and lots of love. She is exceptionally lively for a dog of her age. I just wish and pray that the time that she has left with us that she continues to have a long healthy life.