Monday, January 10, 2005

My three little bundles of terror

We have three dogs. Call us insane, you may be right. They are all crazy, in one way or another. They all have their own brand of intelligence, too, each is wily in his or her own way. But one of them is far smarter than the other two.

Anyway, before we cover that, we must cover each dog, complete with nicknames and explanations.

Bernice - Bernice is named after Alice Ghostley's character on Designing Women. She was named so because she is quite smart but doesn't look it or act it most of the time. She has a number of nicknames, all of which she will answer to, which is scary.

To give you an example of her wily intelligence, on the night we brought her home from the puppy pound where she lived the majority of her first nine months, we had set up a large cage for her to sleep in at night and stay in during the day until we could assess her level of house-brokenness (if you want to call that a word). We were trying to get her to enter the cage without forcing her. We had laid out a nice fluffly towel on the bottom of her cage, and put a toy in the back. The toy wasn't of great interest (she never was a toy-lover) but we got her interested in a puppy treat. I held it through the bars in the back of the cage and she would put her nose in to smell it, but was having nothing to do with getting into the cage. She tried to go around the back to me, but Jess was standing in her way telling her to go get the treat. Finally, I had an idea - drop the treat in the very back of the cage, so far back that there was no way possible for her to get the treat without fully entering the cage. It took her less than one second to figure out that she could pick up the towel in her teeth, pull it out of the cage with the treat lying on it, grab the treat, and run like hell. And so she did. Jess and I looked at each other and said almost in unison, "We're in big trouble."

Among Bernice's many nicknames: BTD (Bernice the Dog), Senior Dog (because she's the oldest), SED (Bernice has a tendency to enjoy an occasional doggie figure it out), and Horse Dog (because she jumps around like one when excited).

Mandy-we didn't name Mandy, this was her "prison" name...the name she had when we brought her home from the same puppy pound from whence Bernice came. Mandy was adorably cute but obnoxious. She came home the first night and promptly laid claim to every toy, treat, and dog article that was Bernice's. She had terrible manners. In her first week, she decided it would be funny to jump up on our bed. As she did this, she peed all over the comforter in an act of what can only be described as spite. She's very smart and understands the English language much better than she should. By that, I mean she understands sentences, not just words. Once she was asking to go out and I knew that she was asking not because she had to relieve herself, but because she wanted to go play with Dodger. I responded to her, "Okay, fine. You can go, but not him." She let out a defiant string of barks that could only be interpreted one way: she was giving me the middle claw.

Among Mandy's many nicknames are Winnie (as in Winnie Mandela), The Divine Miss M, and Sally (short for Salamander).

Dodger- Dodger was a street dog who apparently had a hard young life before Jess and his then-boss found him wandering on the Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. He was a filthy, grimy mess. He had been on the street so long his claws were worn down to tiny nubs that were barely recognizable as claws. His paw pads were split. His fur was matted and greasy. We found out that there were things he knew already - he was housebroken; he knew what a leash was; he hated the sound of breaking glass; and he recognized the sound of a doorbell. What we didn't know was how smart he really was.

He hadn't been with us long and he quickly discovered Mandy's prime vulnerability - she doesn't like the basement steps. She won't go down them. Bernice and Dodger descend and climb them with no problem. So in a dogfight over one of Mandy's toys one night (and understand that ALL toys are Mandy's toys), he ran to the open basement door with the toy in his mouth and hurled the toy down the stairs. Then he sat there wagging with a big grin on his face while Mandy barked furiously. Surely the dog wasn't that clever; it had to have been a coincidence. When Jess, who happened to be downstairs doing laundry, heard the toy come bouncing down the steps, he came to the bottom of the stairs and demanded that Dodger come pick up the toy and take it back upstairs. Dodger complied, but in a few seconds, there was more fighting and the toy was hurled down the steps again. That's when we knew that Dodger was beyond your normal dog. And he only answers to his name or nicknames. If you say "Dogs, let's go out," he will sit until you call him by name. He will not be addressed as a dog.

He has a number of nicknames also, such as Lee Dog, Brownie, and Kitty-Cat Dog (because he cleans his paws and face as a cat would).

More to come on this topic later.


At 10:02 PM, January 10, 2005, Blogger Harlis Dinwiddie said...

Bernice is one of my favorite characters of all time!!!! More stories! More stories!!!

At 9:03 PM, January 11, 2005, Blogger Marc said...

Michael - and you were worried about the puka beads making you look gay! Proclaiming Bernice as one of your favorite characters of all time is a dead giveaway. You may as well put a lavender orchid in your hair and throw on the Shalimar and Gloria Gaynor tunes. xoxoxo

At 10:04 PM, January 12, 2005, Blogger Harlis Dinwiddie said...

Uhm, who is Shalimar?

At 12:16 PM, January 14, 2005, Blogger Pony said...

If I were one of your dogs (?), I'd totally be Dodger. That's me.

At 4:34 PM, January 14, 2005, Blogger Jase said...

I love your dogs! My dog is dumb; but he's cute, so that makes up for it. :)

At 6:27 PM, January 14, 2005, Blogger Marc said...

Michael: Maybe that reference is a *little* young for you, but you had to be at least ten or twelve when Shalimar was around. And by that age, being the country boy you are, you surely knew what was up!

Pony: Yeah, I could see you as Dodger. Wait'll I post more on him. I'm sure the comparisons will be frightening.

Jase: Cute goes a long way on the dumb quotient for dogs. It's why Afghan Hounds are so popular. They are cute and beautiful, but they really are the definition of "dumb blonde."


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