Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trudy the Artist

I have that incredible feeling that can only be obtained when your child does something really smart, artistic and creative.  Let's put aside the fact that I am talking about my Border Collie when I say child and let me just bask in the moment.  My little Trudy is an artist. As you can see from the top picture, Trudy has made part of the cedar fence a wooden canvas.  She draws on it each and every day.  At first I was just noticing her tendency of rebounding off this fence every higher and higher in her attempts to reach the squirrels.  My husband said he looked out our kitchen window one day and thought he saw a bird in flight, but it turned out just to be Trudy having launched herself about six feet off the ground with her efforts.

She typically rebounds off this fence in order to take a look over the six foot chain length fence that connect to it at this corner.  The first time I saw her doing this I just about came unglued because she did it so effortlessly and it was very evident that if she wanted to she could easily go sailing over the six foot fence.  At that point in her life I had been delaying her spaying, figuring that waiting until she was about a year old would give her a better amount of time to grow more fully.  When I saw her 'bird in flight' abilities I scheduled her spaying for the next week.  All she needed to go sailing over the fence was a reason and I was not about to let Mother Nature give her any hormonal input.  So with her natural urges curtailed I guess she turned as many do to artistic endeavors.  I think she is rather talented, I will let you decide for yourself.

This is a portion of her wooden canvas and has not been retouched in any way.  You can see how she has applied many layers to create texture and has also used the natural structure of the fence in this work.  Look closely and you will see the bear.

The Bear

I took the liberty of outlining her creation in red for the ease of your viewing, even though this diminishes her work slightly.  If you now look back up at the non-outlined image you will see it clearly.  What is more you may also see that this is a composite sketch.  Look to the right of the bear and you will see the mule deer.

Bear and Mule Deer
Once again I outlined the images so you can see more clearly where to look.  I find the works even more impressive due to the fact that as far as I know, Trudy has never seen a bear or a deer.  Maybe a deer because after all she was found abandoned at a hunting lease, so maybe she saw a deer there.  But even so, that was back when she was a wee baby of less than seven weeks.  Impressive memory if she is drawing from that experience.  

Now this next part of the canvas is from the upper right side and displays yet another animal theme.

 It took me a while to see it and I believe it is still a work in progress based on some lack of definition in the mane to the lower right but as you can see in the outline it is clearly a lion.

The Lion

Trudy also has another canvas on the back fence.  Sadly I have had to cover up this work of art because as she draws here she likes to use her back feet and hang her front legs over the top of the six foot fence, effectively doing a chin up.  Since her body was rising higher and higher with each effort I felt it was just a matter of time before she accidentally vaulted over.  Therefore, I put a lawn cart in the way, forcing her to draw on another part of the fence that has a large amount of vines at the top as a barrier to 'escape'.  So this work is unfinished and yet I feel you will find it has merit.

Now taken as a whole, you can see a lot of energy and emotion, but not much specific drawing, however if you look at it section by section you will see the brilliance of her work.

This is the lower section of the canvas and at first my husband and I debated as to what this creature was.  He said Graboid from the movies Tremors, and while it definitely looks like that in the front part to the left of the drawing, I think she meant this creature to have legs.  I think you will agree there is a close resemblance to a Triceratops.

The Triceratops

The jumble of legs I interpret as her way of revealing movement.  What a smart girl.  She obviously has never seen a Triceratops, but she did recently chew up a section of our encyclopedia.  I am pretty sure she devoured the T section.  And there I was thinking she was just being destructive when she was just doing research.

This section is taken from the upper right part of the canvas.  She obviously is mostly interested in doing wildlife scenes.

I hardly need to outline this one at all because it is so clearly her depiction of a bird.  I think though she is doing a cross between a mockingbird and a horned owl.

The Bird

 So as you can no doubt see I have a very talented girl on my hands.  If you see anymore images that I have missed please let me know.  Right now she seem content with this single media, but who knows when she might branch into other artistic avenues.  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Border Land Sleeping

Trudy, my sweet and loving Border Collie is almost a year old.  We will never know her exact date of birth but we have decided based on the reports from her first visit to a veterinarian that her birth date was middle to late June 2010, so we picked June 20th as her birthday.  Now we are not the kind of dog people who will have a birthday party for our dog, but we have celebrated her birthday in another way.  Trudy now gets to sleep on our bed.

Trudy had been confined to her kennel at night when she was just a wee puppy - mostly because as a puppy she was likely to 'wee' anytime and anywhere.  When she was several months old we transitioned her to just being confined to the room her kennel was in without locking her in the kennel itself.  She loved this arrangement because we had a 'go to bed' ritual.  First she got to go outside to potty.  This part had to happen even if she had just come inside because - well, because it wouldn't be a ritual if you just did things randomly now would it? This ritual had to begin between 9:30 PM and 10:30 Pm.  If it did not then there would be a concerned Border Collie nudging your arm, then putting her mouth on your arm and then basically slapping her paw down on your arm because now they are UPSET.   An upset Border Collie will need to have your hand on them at all times and will not let you even look at a TV or computer screen because you know, they are UPSET.  So we avoid the whole upset Border Collie as often as possible.

So the ritual begins by letting the Border Collie outside.  As per the specific rules of order she must run to the back of the yard first then circle back to the porch.  You then must ask her "Did you go potty?"  Upon hearing this she will then lift her head up like "Oh yeah, I forgot," and then she will run to the 'potty place' but when she is almost there she will 'hear something' and have to run to the back of the yard again.  She will spend a moment at the back of the yard and then run up onto the porch to the back door.  You must ask her again, "Did you go potty?"  "Oh year, I forgot," and the cycle repeats again.  Sometimes you have to do this part about three or four times but then finally she will actually 'go potty'.  You must say "Good Girl" at exactly the right time in the 'potty' process.  If you say it right away then all is well, but if you wait too long to say it she will give you a 'look' and then run to the back of the yard again when she is done.

Finally the next part of the ritual begins and she comes back into the house.  You must then say "Are your ready to go to bed?"   She needs you to say this while she is at the refrigerator and will wait there until you say it.  As soon as you say the magic words she will rush into her room straight into her kennel and stamp on the floor loudly.  There must not be a delay at this point so you have to grab the bag of chicken jerky and go into the room and turn on the overhead light.  She will be watching from her kennel.  You have to close the gate in front of the door to her room first.  Then you must select two pieces of jerky from the bag and tear them into pieces.  You must scatter the pieces into the bottom of the kennel, throwing them first to one side and then to the other side so the Border Collie can scramble madly around her kennel hunting for the scattered pieces.

You must exit the room turning off the light before she is done finding the last scrap.  On your way out you need to say "Goodnight Trudy."  There will be a little Westie at the door to her room and you have to step over the fence at the door at the same time you hand him a piece of chicken jerky because although a Westie does not need to have bedtime rituals, he does does need to have jerky and will bark enough to upset a Border Collie if he does not get his snack right away.

If one thing in the ritual goes even the slightest bit wrong then the good night magic is all screwed up and a Border Collie will whine and sigh and make all manner of upset noises.  The noises last for a varying amount of time depending on how bad you screwed up the bedtime ritual.  Taking the Border Collie directly in from being outside where she has been until 10 PM is a very serious infraction and will result in about an hour and a half of desperate Border Collie distress.  Thinking that the Border Collie must not need to 'potty' after only two runs to the back of the yard will earn you 30 minutes of whining.  Insisting that the Border Collie go potty after the 5th run to the back of the yard when she obviously is telling you she does not need to go potty and is tired of you being so thick and not 'getting it' will earn you about an hour of upsetness.  Putting up the fence after you have fed her the jerky because you really just don't want to step over the damn tripping thing will get you about 10 minutes of sulking.

Now even with all of this 'training' we had been receiving from her on how to do the 'go to bed' ritual just right there came a time when no matter what, the upset came.  This was a new upset accompanied by a new sort of miserable sighing moan that was indicating how very, very, very unfair it was for a Border Collie to be confined away from the rest of the family in her own bedroom with her own water bowl and special sleeping chair and lots of fun toys.  This new upset was a deep distressing melancholy that would come on about an hour after she had been put to bed.  It would last and last, just loud enough and pitched just at the right level to exert maximum guilt probes into the dog center of your brain.  It translated very clearly into "Sure, go ahead and have your TV watching and family togetherness without me.  I will just pine away all alone and lonely with my heart just breaking and breaking.  Right here.  All alone...  and SAD."

There is only so much of this that we can take, but being seasoned dog parents we had been through this with every other puppy we had ever brought into our life.  This was 'transition' time.  The puppy baby cradle time was over and the juvenile adult dog time had come.  With our Schnauzer Chewey who had spent his night times confined to a child's portable crib we knew he was ready to come out after the third time he chewed his way through the sides of the enclosure.  We had his coming out ceremony by putting him in the crib and cheering him on into breaking his way out of the crib one last time.  We then closed up the crib while he watched and smacked it a few times for good measure and then threw it out of the house.  He smiled the entire time.

Lewey's baby crib started as another portable crib, but he made short work of that well before we were ready for him to have run of the house.  We transitioned him first into a metal crate that we put by the bed.  When he reached the 'don't need to lock me in' stage we had him watch while we took the door off the crate.

Trudy's 'big girl no longer has to stay in her room' event was a little different. For her the majority of her 'go to bed' ritual had to remain intact.  When she came into the house and I grabbed the jerky, she went to the door of her room, but we had it closed.  I called her and Lewey into the bedroom and told her to get on the bed.  I blocked the door to the bedroom with the child gate so she couldn't leave and then fed the two of them her two jerky strips.  She 'got it' right away and gave me a bunch of kisses before settling down. 

She is a great sleeper and does not bother me at night.  She gets on and off the bed very quietly and has even avoided bothering Lewey who is little prince 'don't touch me or I will make a sound like a very compact polar bear growling'.  She does however have anticipatory alarm waking.  About 10 minutes before my alarm goes off she comes over and very gently will give me a kiss on the cheek.  I studiously ignore her and she will settle down right next to me.  As soon as the alarm goes off she is all "MOM!!!  Hi!  We are AWAKE now!" and wants to do the 'awake in the morning' ritual right away.


I used to be a much more disorganized person.  Who knew the strategic application of a Border Collie would regulate my life.