Our new temporary quarters have worked out well, with one exception: Penny has refused to go up the stairs at night.
This was not a problem in our New Albany home, where Penny would dutifully trudge up the stairs at bedtime. But here, the steep steps seem to have freaked her out, and she simply will not go up the stairs voluntarily. When we accepted that fact and left her downstairs, she barked and whimpered so we couldn’t sleep. And if you’ve got a dog, you know that they are stubborn creatures; we soon realized that she was going to be able to bark and whimper much longer than we were going to be able to endure the noise.
What to do? We consulted our vet. Friends and family shared theories about the true cause of the problem. We got advice about space-age dog carrying devices. We developed approaches to the stairs that we thought would give Penny maximum support, encouragement, and confidence. And the last few nights we’ve wrangled her up the stairs using a jury-rigged combination of leash, folded fleece blanket to serve as a kind of lifting and carrying sling, and sheer lugging.
And then we realized: she doesn’t have a problem coming down the steep new stairs in the morning. Why? Well, it might be gravity . . . or it might be the incentive of a morning meal. We know that Labs have insatiable appetites. Why not try to lure her up the stairs with food? Last night we employed the Milk-Bone Solution to the stair problem, and sure enough Penny scampered up the stairs and gladly munched down her reward biscuit.
Kasey and I have a good understanding with The Leader. Kasey and I always want food. The Leader knows that. We go to the Leader and put our heads on her lap. Then she goes and gets food for us, every time. The old boring guy just ignores us and never gives us food until late in the day. That’s one big reason why we like the Leader best.
Kasey and I also think the Leader knows we will always hunt for food, and will leave it just within our reach. One day the Leader left a box of Milk-Bones where I could knock it down. Kasey and I tore it open and ate the whole box. It was a happy Milk-Bone frenzy that day!
When the old boring guy got home, he saw the ripped-up box and got mad. We didn’t care. Why should we care about what the old boring guy does when our bellies are full? The Leader acted mad, too — but we know it was just an act. We think she wants us to eat our fill every once in a while. The Leader always looks out for those of us in the pack.
Kasey has the worst breath of any dog I’ve ever met, up close and personal.
Even by the appallingly low standards of her canine companions everywhere — and the phrase “dog breath” wasn’t invented for nothing — Kasey’s foul mouth stench plumbs new depths. Recently she hopped onto the couch next to me, looked at me, exhaled, and singed my eyebrows off. On our walks, Kasey’s snorts and snuffling leave wide swathes of New Albany grasslands withered, scorched, and smoking. If her breath had a physical manifestation, it would be a deep purple-black, oily and oozing, full of eyeless, wretched, wriggling things, like something channeled from the lowest pits of hell and used there to torment the most evil and lost souls.
We’ve tried to solve this problem by giving Kasey Milk-Bones and other “breath improvement” products. The last time we tried it, however, the Milk-Bone emitted a high-pitched shriek, leaped from my hand, and went skittering across the kitchen floor and out the patio door, never to be seen again.
After I’ve stopped gasping for a clean breath after exposure to one of Kasey’s putrid exhalations, I find myself wondering how Kasey’s breath can be so much more noxious than Penny’s. They are served the same food at the same time, and yet Penny’s breath, relatively speaking, smells like roses. I’ve concluded that Kasey’s evil breath must have developed as a kind of evolutionary advantage. If she were freed from her leash and allowed to chase and eventually corner a rabbit, her breath no doubt would immediately paralyze her furry victim and allow Kasey to close in for the kill at her leisure.