It’s a McNab Dog’s Life With Rack

All my dogs have been Rescues.

They have both been McNab Dogs or a cross.

Not that there is anything wrong with a Golden Retriever, they are a living hug.  German Shepherds are great dogs, but I’m a big guy and people shy away from me already.  There are a lot of Greyhounds around that need homes, and if you ever want something on your couch sleeping, they are a good bet since they are mellow and regal in their bearing.

But I have a McNab.  They’re not well known outside of their native California, except with cowboys and ranchers and farmers.  I am none of that, I did IT in my career.

Not being well known is a good thing.  The breed hasn’t been wrecked by overbreeding.

Rack is an interesting character though.

You see, there seem to be two different kinds of McNabs.  The kinds that have to be heavily and independently occupied are working dogs with a Capital W.  They’re the ones that you send out to the back 40 to round up the cows and expect them to work those beasts to better than your best expectation.

Rack is, well he’s different.

He got off to a bad start.  I expect that it was because he’s allergic to chicken and grain.  They probably fed him that and it might be why I ended up with him in the first place.

Having to pick up something that looks like Melted Soft Serve Ice Cream from the living room rug twice a day until I found out what caused it was uncomfortable to say the least.

Also he has a strong fear of Diesel Trucks and Loud Noises.  I’m guessing the first owner was either a hunter or a truck driver and fed him some KFC one too many times in the cab of the truck.

No matter what breed, an intelligent dog needs a job.  It’s true for Rack, as well as it is true for any Border Collie, Kelpie, Poodle, or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

That last one is the only small dog I would consider.  They are in the “Top Ten” intelligent dog lists.  If I ever need to slow down who knows what will happen.

I am his job.

You see, while those ranchers won’t sell a City Person a McNab, many of these same dogs are smart enough to know that life on the farm is not for them.  They simply “up and leave”.  The dog goes missing and needs a home.

Shelters in Northern California, Reno Nevada, Fresno, and similar places are chock full of these amazing dogs.  I’ve said I want to just drive my Jeep around those areas with the doors off of the car and the roof down and if a dog chooses to jump in, I’ll have my next one.

That would take a four day drive so it isn’t going to happen.  Some nice ideas are just best being ideas only.

Those dogs were on a farm because a person thought they knew best.  Usually they do, sometimes not.

All day long, I am home.  I’m up before dawn.  We go for our first mile walk and by the end I’m being towed home so he can get water and food.  Then off to his corner where he guards against the evil delivery trucks.

He can spot a UPS truck before that thing gets onto my block.

If I get out of my desk and walk somewhere, I usually will hear paws on the pavement, toes on the tiles.  Turn around and the white tip of a tail is heading back to His Place In The Corner.

My fault, I keep half of the house blocked off because I would rather have a wet nose on my elbow once an hour than be alone here to my music on the noise-canceling headphones.

When I am finished, my rocker is next to His Spot.  I’ll entertain myself while he’s there sleeping.  Next to me, I’ll look down at the DogBall (TM) that is resting there.

Whoever said “it’s a dog’s life” never met us.

He knows the neighborhood, and will choose our routes.   I make it a point to do more than two miles a day, and a true farm dog will walk many times that.

I’m more like a greyhound anyway.  If I am not on my skates burning 2000 calories a workout, or weightlifting on off days, I’ll lounge around.

Can’t use the Bowflex with a dog nosing your toe lifts so he’s excluded.

Ironically I got Lettie, my first McNab Dog Of A Lifetime to be a companion on my own skate workouts.

She could not keep up so we didn’t take her on my trips.  I would skate 100 miles a week in peak season and we thought it best not to do that to a dog, even if I would have shortened my distances for her.The thing is that if you include a dog in most of your activities, you will find a balance, and you will find peace.

Isn’t that why our species have grown together all these centuries?

 

Tired of Belly Rubs? Use a Sock on your McNab SuperDog(TM)

(oops, forgot a title)

Every night it seems to be our routine.

Find some sitcoms after dinner.  There are plenty both on local broadcast TV and on the web.

Wonderfully silly and surreal TV shows about Ditzy Farm Wives with a Pig that is smarter than you are.  Women who once moved to Minneapolis where it was cold and she thought she’d “Keep Better” but now is giving Noo Yawk its “Last Chance”.  RCMP Mounties in Chicago with a deaf wolf solving crimes.

Ahh they don’t make TV like that now do they?

Sheldon and Leonard or Rachel and Ross aside that is.

Being the tall and Rangy type, my arms and legs go all over the place.  I illegally put my right leg up on the arm of the couch where I have created a divot.  I really shouldn’t do that but if I don’t Mr Dog can’t get back to his corner.

That corner.  It has the foam rubber from an Ikea Poang Chair wrapped in a synthetic blanket.  It’s his bed.  He lays on it, sometimes.  He lays next to it, sometimes.  Other times he melts off the side in some weird origami pattern bent like a sausage and flattened out.

It’s the life of having a working dog in a suburban home.

I don’t think I could do this with a pure bred Border Collie.  They’re wonderful dogs, but when old Alexander McNab made the breed that I favor, McNab Dog, he bred out the twitchiness and the extreme need to be doing something NOW! at any moment.

While the people on the farms where the McNab was originally created for will scream “He’s a Working Dog!  He should be on a FARM”, I am proof that one size does not fit all.

Besides, I am constantly reading about McNabs who decided that life on the farm may be kind of laid back but not for them.

I swear I’m going to go out to California where these dogs are common, drive around with the roof off my Jeep and if one jumps in for a ride, I won’t try too hard to find it’s home.

They walk off and find their way to other farms or into homes and these amazingly adaptable creatures do well.

My own Dog Of A Lifetime has a job.  It’s Me.  Living here near the shops and the tourists, he’s able to get a lot of mental stimulation that a lifetime of chasing sheep will never give him.

The only weird affect he seems to be developing is he has chosen guarding as his job.

You see, wherever I am, I must be watched.  If the UPS Truck (or Fed E-Arrow-X) comes by he grumbles.  I’m still trying to teach him that the Postie is our Friend but he’s not buying it.

At night when I’m watching Lisa “plug in an 8” and blow out the “electricical”, Rack is resting under my hand.  I’m giving him belly rubs with that hand and he’s happy.

Dreaming happy dreams where his tail wags, maybe dreaming of running through his wormhole to visit the other realm where Rack is King of the McNabs, or just wandering behind the hedges to have a little peace away from the loud diesel trucks that are servicing the shops.

It’s all good, it’s all waggable, he’s a happy soul that rests next to his job.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I do get tired from time to time and have to take my hand back.

That is when we discovered something curious.  I can use a sock.

No, seriously.  If he goes into that trance like state, where he’s awake but not really, I can place a sock or two across his belly that is exposed and the weight of the hosiery does just enough.

He thinks I’m still petting the belly that he exposes like a light switch lighting the dark, and I get to shake blood back into my hand and wind my automatic diver’s watch a little bit.

Yes, living in Florida with a pool, having a diver’s watch is important since you just might get knocked into the pool.  When Rack gets charging around those corners out there, he’s been known to fly over the water and into that wormhole where I have been knocked into the deep end once or twice.

Got to work on that there, Cow Dog!

When he finally comes fully aware that he’s been duped, we start that cycle again.  Arnold the Pig is grunting on the TV or we’re visiting with that Mighty Fine Woman, Kate at the hotel near the tracks.  Rack is guilting me to rub his belly again.

All are happy, all are well in our little land of domesticity.

Would not have it any other way!

Radar O’Reilly Taught Me, I Taught My Dog Rack

Back when it was on the first time, it was a massively popular TV show.

Even today it is heavily watched on some of those channels that specializes in old shows.

The last episode of MASH was watched by half of the TVs tuned at the moment.  If your neighbor was watching something else, you were watching MASH.

I watched a fair amount of the show over the years.  I had friends who were active duty military, and one in specific that served in Korea.  I couldn’t tell you what he did over there since he closed up when he came home.  He told me very clearly that there was an ongoing “shooting war” over there at the time, but it isn’t publicized.

I did watch enough MASH to have picked up some of the jargon of the shows, and use some of it to this day.  If something looks confused I quote Radar O’Reilly by saying “It doesn’t look like Mom’s Nash”.

One other thing I got in the habit of saying was “Incoming!” when someone was approaching.  The house, me, doesn’t matter.  I’d fire off “Incoming” and usually whoever I was with would realize that we’re about to be joined.

Well.  That someone does not have to be two legged.

Rack.  My “Respect The Process” furry tape recorder who knows that I am going out to the back yard at 7:30 AM for Yard Inspection because I either move my feet from the ottoman or I put the wireless keyboard on the table.  He’s learned the secret of “Incoming!”.

Actually he’s learned all too well.

You see if I say “Incoming!” He trots over to the large hurricane glass front door window and starts grumbling if he sees someone.   If he likes the person, or dog, he’ll stand there and whine or wag his tail.

It’s become a game.   Not teasing the dog, that is, but seeing just exactly what he will go on alert at the front door with.

Sure, Radar has trained me, and I have trained the dog, but the dog has also trained us back.

I’ve learned that if I say Hello like I’m actually greeting someone at the door, he does an Incoming! alert regardless.

Too bad because I have a habit of talking at my computer as well and Rack isn’t that selective.

Incoming!, Hello, OK, Who’s that?, and quite a few others will get him up off his mat and to the door.  Just don’t use those words in conversation, especially if he’s asleep.

So the other night I was actually watching MASH.  We found it, and are watching the series from Season 1 Episode 1, at the rate of a couple episodes a week.

In the very first episode though, Hilarity Ensued.

Out on the street in front of the house was someone walking their dog, and someone else across the street.  Rack didn’t know any of them.

He didn’t care, he had fallen asleep, next to my chair.  The picture of Domestic Bliss, I sat on my big green chair in the corner of the room, and Rack snored.

As the show introduced characters, Radar O’Reilly was there, and said “Incoming!”.  As they explained on the TV what that meant to them, get ready for incoming choppers and some busy hours, My Dog Went into Action.

Dingus.

He stood up, and went on full alert, barking the sleep away.

“WOO WOO WOO…”

I said, laughing, “Rack, Shaddap, go look!”

He ripped tires across the living room scrabbling for purchase and traction.  Four paws does not mean Four Wheel Drive sure footedness.

He collided with the coffee table, knocking a few papers into the air.

At this point we were all just kind of in shock laughing away as he slipped around to the door.  It was really only about a few heartbeats.

The Choppers were landing, Hawkeye and Trapper John were getting prepped for surgery.

Rack spotted the Interlopers, and went full stupid.
“WOO WOO WOO…”

I said “Damnit, you’re a McNab not a yapper, shaddap!”

He started to calm down to a grumble with “MROWMROWmrow mlum mlum” coming from the front door.

The people on the street looked at the door from 50 feet off or so confused as to why he was being so radical, and began to disperse.

“Rack, Enough!”

He finally went quiet and off to the mat to repeat.

All this because a 30 or so year old TV show went to make a plot point.

So I’ll ask you.  If you do come by for a visit, try not to use “Incoming!”.  Or “Hello” or “OK”…

Or never mind, he’s got to learn not to overreact.

But that Doorbell?  It’s off limits, OK?

“WOO WOO WOO!!!!”

Got a Dog? You Are Being Watched. Got a Herding Dog? Better Respect The Process.

Every so often, you hear this story.   For me it was the other day on BBC, this is a similar story if you want video.  In fact, the story is so common that if you do a search on “Breast Cancer Dog”, you will find many videos and stories on this subject

The story went that there was a woman who has a dog.  A great dog, a Rescue Dog, friendly, they bonded deeply, and they integrated each other deeply into each other’s lives.

So what she described is what you normally call a Shadow Dog.  They follow you every where.

In my case, Rack is a Shadow Dog, but being a McNab, he does it differently.  He placeshimself strategically so that he can see where I am and what I am doing, no matter who else is in the house.

Get the picture?   Good, here’s where it gets intriguing.

This lady noticed a difference in her dog’s moods.  The dog became less bouncy.  Less energetic.  More reserved.

Of course, dogs have moods just like you or I, and the longer I have my own boy here, the more often I realize that he does things for a reason.

That “reason” is what was causing the mood swings.   She was getting ready to take the dog into the vet to see if there was anything at all wrong with the dog when she noticed something odd.

We’re all used to having our dogs sniff around.  Mine took an interest in a bit of road rash I have on my left arm that took a little too long to heal.  He sniffed that spot every time he came over for a visit during a perimeter search in the house.  So I paid more attention to it, washed it out more often and more thoroughly than usual.  When it healed, he lost interest.

Here is the parallel.  The lady’s dog sniffed her chest more than normal, and realized that the dog was sniffing one specific breast.  Since she was in the UK she was able to get the care she needed, and found out that there was breast cancer developing in that breast.

The dog saved her life, and this is one of many cases where that story works out for the best.

Really, I have said it before many times and I shall say it again “Trust In Dog”.

I have a routine.  It’s very fixed in the way things are done.   I suppose I live an ordered and orderly life, although if you saw my kitchen you would disagree.

Things happen the same way daily because I have figured out that best process and the best order.  You would expect that of someone like me, a Project Manager.   We do that, we plan, we watch processes for the best outcome and tweak them and tune them like a fine piece of machinery.

However, my own ordered life is noticed by Rack down to the last detail.

He knows not to ask for an ice cube after the first one is given in the morning.  We walk, come home, I feed him and then he goes to his bed tucked away in a corner.   I then putter in the kitchen making up a mug of French Press coffee and drop five, not four or six, ice cubes in the press to bring it to a perfect temperature.

Rack knows that when I go into the freezer to come but only when called.  He gets his prize, I get my coffee, and since it is usually well before sunrise, I settle in to sip coffee and work on learning Spanish, getting caught up, and getting started.

At 7:30AM every day, whether it is raining or not, the irrigation system comes on.  It is on a timer and must run to water the orchids and fruit trees in pots.  Regardless of weather since some of these pots require a specific watering schedule, I have to go outside.

By this time, He’s either needing to visit the large palm tree out back or wants to just get out for a break and a romp.  I’m not completely sure which, or both.

When I am ready, I put my keyboard away, and immediately I hear Rack doing his “Downward Dog” yoga stretch, and then a furious trot behind me to the back door.

Every blessed day.

Without fail.

RunRunRunSkid.

“Ok Rack, I am coming.”

Rinsing out that French Press mug, I get to the door.  Rack invites himself outside, first.  I dump the grounds in the garden and go about my Yard Inspection.

It is every day.

Every.

Even during Irma’s aftermath, I maintained that schedule, although since the power was out or running on a generator, I used that time to scoop debris out of the pool or just do gardening.

But Rack was there.  Watching over what I was doing and insisting on being there.

When he has had enough of marking the perimeter outside, He comes back and tries to nudge me back indoors.

It’s that process thing.  One step after another, respect the process.  In order.

Now if he starts sniffing any specific part of your body, pay attention.

To Teach Success to Your Dog Is No Harder Than Building A Team

Hey!  Rack!  Want to go Out Front?
Blank stare.

I know what you really want.  I just choose to ignore it.  I have chosen my own reality.

The smarter the breed, the more mental stimulation that they need.   Sure, you gave your dog food, water, shelter.  You take them for walks hopefully with bags to pick up after them.

Things happen the same time every day, so now you have established a routine.  They don’t know why you get up and do things in a certain order, ice cubes to cool off the coffee after you brew it, why you go outside to check the yard at a specific time of day because the sprinklers come on.

 

They just like the order.

So when you throw the order off it gets strange results.

Mid morning mug of coffee happens because you think taking an afternoon nap at 10 AM is just a bit too … decadent for a busy day.

But you too need a break.

The feet scrape on the floor as you push from the desk and…

The dog trots to the back door.  Back door means that Rack can go explore, water my pots of Basil that keep sprouting in strange spots along with all the other involuntary plantings.

Wash the Basil well before it goes onto the Pizza, ok?

I sigh.

Rack, Front Yard.   I’m not sure if it is a request or an order.

Go water the rock!

*grumble*

There’s a duck trying to walk across the yard anyway, I have to convince that beast to go “elsewhere”.

Rack walks to a spot and stops.

I go outside take a step off the porch, the duck walks across the street and draws a box watching me every flap of those feet.   I take a second step when it stops and convince it otherwise.  I’m really tired of pressure washing the concrete because a duck parks itself there when I am not watching.

The duck dance ends with the beast five yards down.  I need my coffee anyway.

Rack hasn’t moved.  He’s bored.

By the time I have taken the first sip, he’s looked out back again, came over sat down and is looking at me through the side of his eye pretending he’s not being seen begging for attention.

He may think he’s being slick but I think that’s the Reality of Dog when you are a herding dog who does not know how to herd, nor chase any other creatures.

Except me of course.

Second sip happens as I take my hand away from petting him, turning his head, telling him that he’s the Goodest Boy Ever But You Are Not Surprising Me A BIT!

I think aloud “I’d take you in the Jeep somewhere but not just yet”.

Shouldn’t have said that.  Now he’s glued to my side thinking he put the words together saying that a ride was happening RIGHT NOW.

Maybe later, I tell him.  Dogs have a really awful sense of what “later” is.

You can indeed have a highly active, highly intelligent Herding dog in a small house in the suburbs.   You just have to be trained.

Cesar Millan is right, people can be trained.  The dog knows how to Dog.

Herding dogs need a job.  I am Rack’s Job.  Truth be told, anyone in the house is family even if they aren’t or at least by the second visit they are.  Family is the job.  Even that noisy as hell parrot in the back room’s window, Oscar.

But Oscar is a very different story indeed.

I move my feet off the footstool at my workstation.

Mistake.  The whole cycle starts over.  Rack thinks that Things Are Happening.

Yeah, I’m grabbing the headphones so I can listen to that Norteño music from Mexicali Mexico that I find I like even if it is “educational for me”.  Time to go to the kitchen

After a fashion he’s right.  Potatoes go in the oven for the Roast Pork Lunch that he is waiting for.

Of course he waits for it.  He gets to do his sad little Me Too Routine so that he gets some pork, excellently cooked even if I do say so myself.

Not every herding dog could do it.  After all, support dogs don’t always make the program.  I don’t need that much support, companionship is about the extent of it.  Just don’t raid the trash or the recycling.  You won’t get away with it because the house is too small for that.

Besides, a metal bowl on top of the trash can’s lid makes a heck of a sound when it crashes to earth.

But this is how we solved a completely broken down mental state when we got him.  I’m a big loud man.  I never decided that we would change, but he would be given every opportunity to learn how to live with us.

Teach success.  It’s best for dogs, people, even you and me.  Given the chance to excel, most will make an effort to reach your expectations and then leave them in the dust.

It’s a team building exercise.  Not one bit different than how I taught programmers how to be systems analysts so I could go off and be a project manager in a traditional setting.  Your Systems Analyst just has black and white fur and a wet nose.

When we got him, his first walk in the neighborhood was on his belly slinking across the street one paw at a time, to meet Lisa and Bill, our former neighbors.  He never learned that people can be fun and exciting.

Until he met us.  Now everything is an opportunity to learn.

Teach success.  It’s easy.

If your dog is barking like it’s insane, you’re not keeping its mind active.

But it is also your responsibility.  A dog that knows his place in the family, or the pack, lives a longer happier life.

So will you.

Once Again, Walk In The Grass, Rack

A Police Officer who was a dog handler once said: “On their best day, they’re still a dog.”

Then again, I heard of a rancher who once said: “If you can’t train a McNab, you can’t train a dog.”

Toe-may-toes, Toe-mah-toes.

You see, my boy Rack has a problem.  He’s got horrible aim.

Oh, sure, he lifts his leg often.  But as we’re walking along, I make sure that my own leg is well away from his.

I don’t think I need to be watered, I’m quite tall enough.

Stand upwind, about 4 to 6 feet away, and watch where he’s going.

He’s pure black and white, with a bit of yellow on his feet after a walk.

Oh I have heard many male dogs suffer from bad aim.  You can’t really train him to “sit down” while he pees, I would expect the problem move from one of his feet to a big ol’ stripe down his white patch on his belly.

I gave up obsessing about his aim.  After all, he’s about 5 now.  He’s doing what he’s going to do and that’s that.

Early on, we realized we had a problem with him being crosseyed when he’s pointing, figuratively of course.  Since there’s a porch in front of the house and the water spigot for the garden is right there next to the porch, we solved it.  A Semi Permanent addition to the porch is a garden hose with a spray attachment is sitting draped over the iron railing and charged with water.

Water saver, of course.

We fell into a routine.

I would successfully get out of the way of his watering efforts, then when we get home, I would use the hose.

Every.  Blasted.  Walk.

Three.  Times.  A.  Day.

I take him to the hose, soak down his feet.  The white part of his legs, all four of them, turn from yellow to white.  He is no longer a “Yellow Footed Collie” but a “Wet Footed Collie”.

Originally we would go inside at this point but that left little paw prints of water everywhere and I found myself going to find the mop more often than not.

Then I got the bright idea to walk him once around the tree in front of the house.  I stopped that when I realized my own feet had tramped down a path making the house look wrong.

So Training the Dog to walk around the yard on his own was successful.

Him walking in the grass would get extra water off his feet and brush his toes to get any extra detritus from between them.

A strategically placed mat inside the door soaked up what was left.

However, “On His Best Day…”  He would act like a kid.

Once out into the yard, he’d start cutting corners.  Shorter loops around the car, and eventually he is skipping the grass all together.   More things are getting tracked indoors.

Does this sound like a five year old kid to you?

Eager to please but needing an adjustment, I started telling him to go back out and do it again.

And again… until he manged to walk the grass.

Turf, really, this St Augustine Grass we have in South Florida is more like a carpet or that fake astroturf stuff they put in football stadiums that isn’t all that pleasant to fall on.

It’s taken him about a week to get used to the routine, but Dog Logic being Dog Logic, it’s not completely perfect.

He now thinks that you do it twice.  Once to cut corners, a second time to actually walk the grass around the car.

At least it’s getting done.

He seems to like the routine.  As he’s doing it “wrong” the first time, he’s got a smile on his doggy face.

“Nope!  Walk in the grass, Boy!”.

Brown eyes flash at me, smile resets, and he does it right.

When he gets out to the tail of the car “Good Boy!” and I get a “wag right” to prove that he’s happy about it all.

Happy dog wags tail right, not-completely-happy dog wags tail left.

Ok, so it’s not perfect, but it is entertaining.

Happy Holidays From Rack and Ramblingmoose.com

So sure, I could mess with my schedule and put this picture up, when, next Tuesday?

What fun is that?   I really do like how this picture came out.

Besides, that’s for New Years.  Thanks Calendar Cartel for not straightening out the dates!

Harrumph!

What this was is actually the end of a dog walk.

I have three dog walks per day, as you should if you have a dog.  Rack being the superior McNab SuperDog, (TM), that he is, he has plenty of quirks.

He speaks English,

He tells time,

He has a map of the neighborhood in his brain.

He may even be learning Spanish – I have to be careful with the phrase “Estoy Listo” because “I Am Ready” is a phrase I may want to keep close to my chest.

Here is the story as I see it.  Even if I am reading too much into it, well, I have been told that I can tell a story well.

We left, as normal, from the house, and went out to walk the block.

“Rack, this is your walk, take me where you want to go.”  Wag Right.

When a dog wags right, what you said or did pleases him.  He feels in control of the situation and confident.

When a dog wags left, he may still be pleased but he isn’t completely in control of things.  I get that when I tell him “Go Poop” and he’s not ready.

He really does like to be talked to.

Rack did take me on a “modified” walk.  I have a very set pattern of blocks I walk at that time of evening.  Probably because I try to avoid the bars, don’t want to disturb the patrons at the Italian Restaurant, and I want to avoid noise and other distractions.

No, really, if I walk past Bona Italian Restaurant, it causes a ripple of people talking and pointing at my dog.  There is a waitress in there that loves him, as well as one or two of the owners, and I really don’t want to stop business just for a walk around town.

He does, however, and he took me past the restaurant.

After a few cookies and some attention, we wandered on a different route until we got back here.

As we approached, I said “Rack go wait at the door and let me get a picture”.

He did … Just That.  Walked to the door and waited.  Ok, he knows more English than I thought.

I got the picture you see, however, any photographer will tell you – always take a second.  I wanted to play with flash and settings and re-compose the shot.

This one isn’t perfect, I could have adjusted settings, but this is as close to perfect as I could get all the way to the palm trees hiding above the house.

He thought I was fussing too much and he came over to see.

 

Looking up at me as if to say “are you alright?  Did you get this figured out yet?”

I responded “Why don’t you go back to the door so I can get another?” in a conversational tone.

He did!  Wow that is one smart dog!

I ended up using the first shot but this dog always impresses me.

Now that he’s gaining confidence, he’s getting a bit too assertive at the door.   We have to work at that bark, he’s authoritative enough to have me jump out of my skin inside!

So Happy Holidays to one and all, no matter where in the world you are, no matter what holidays you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by over these years.

Rack and the rest of us at Ramblingmoose.com

Intelligent Dogs and Perfect Pork Loin May Cause A Thunderstorm

I have created a monster.

Or I have broken my dog.

You see, intelligent dogs are wonderful, but they learn better than you expect.  That includes learning you, your actions, and your environment.

There are many stories about people teaching their dogs hand signals because they’re deaf, and they work out admirably.  If you watch a dog “acting” on a television show, they’re merely performing an action based on a trainer’s hand signal that is made off camera.

On the other hand, my dog knows that if I say OK out of the blue, something is about to happen.  I tend to use this as a “clear the decks, I’m about to say something” noise word.

If I sit at my computer, which I do for far too much time, I have to be careful where I put my feet.  Not that he wants to sit under them, but he listens for my feet sliding across the floor.  That means, at least to him, that I am getting up.

If I am getting up, something will happen.

It’s a small house and my own kitchen-desk-door route has a lot of things that are interesting to dogs, and I do like to cook.

A Lot.

 

If I’m in the kitchen things sometimes fall to the floor and a snack happens.

There’s also the Psycho-kinesis effect.

If Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) stares long enough, food magically appears from the refrigerator.  The food then magically lifts itself from the plate and onto the floor.  It is at this time when the food can be scooped up and gobbled down.

It’s all quiet, and not very Lab-Like.  Labs have a genetic mutation sometimes that their hunger never shuts off.  It would be better off if we as humans would stop breaking dogs and engineering traits like constant hunger and flat faces into dogs, but that isn’t something that will stop today.

I do have a lunch ritual.  I have convinced him that if he does not beg, he does get a treat.

Recently I made a BBQ Pork Roast.  Take three pounds or so of Pork, marinade overnight in Barbecue Sauce.  Cook at 225F (low and slow) for about 2 hours or until internal temperature is at 145F.  140 is the lowest temperature according to the USDA for Pork to be “done” these days, and I slipped and went up a bit.  However, I simply turned off the oven, and made the side dishes in the microwave.  About 10 or 15 minutes later, the internal temperature was 155 and I was ready to have lunch.

Some of the best damn pork I have ever had, frankly.

4 ounces for me, 1 ounce for Rack.

But if he hovers, he gets nothing.

He really loves pork, so he’s made the connection of not to stare.  We have a routine that must be followed.  When the food gets set down, he gets up from the corner, walks over and sits down.

Just like that.  Automatically.

One of those boundary issues happens next.   He looses his mind.  All at once.

Gently he sits down but is levitating.  Magically he glides closer as if he’s floating on air.  Snout gets within inches of the plate.  There are a few morsels of perfectly prepared pork loin sitting there.

He only does this with Pork.  Chicken he doesn’t like as much.  On the other hand, if it is not Pork, I tell him Not For Dogs and he backs down immediately.

I’m making his entry fee higher each time.  More and more tricks.

He knows how to say “Yes” by nodding his head, I did say he was intelligent.  But now, I ask him.

“Do you want some pork?”

I get The Look.

“No, answer me, yes or no?”

I don’t think he likes being taught.  I put my finger on his muzzle and say “Yessss” in an exaggerated tone while pushing down a bit.

He didn’t really respond.

Try again “Yeessss” , pushing down.

Hmmm we’re not getting this.  Foot comes up off the ground and he waves it around thinking I want to shake.

“No, I didn’t want Foot.  Do you want some pork? ‘Yesssss”?”

Eyes dart back and forth.  Some minor movement detected.  I accept that as a “Yes”.

“Funny, you’ll break your neck nodding up and down like a bobblehead at the back door but you won’t say Yes for your favorite!”

Head cocks to one side.  “Oh sure, just be Cute”

Foot comes up, then other foot.  “Here, have your pork”.

May as well give in, he knows he’s getting it.   “Just step back a little, you’re too close and it is My plate after all”

I get to smile a small smile, he’s understanding even if he doesn’t do Yes predictably.

Fortunately that pork loin has another week and a half worth of lunches.

Except when I need to exercise the Jeep.  Then he loses his mind because he wants to come along for when I go out for a Ride! in the Car! to get Lunch!.

Shower, primp, and prep for being out in the public, I’m being watched.

Get dressed, and he’s winding up.

Pacing from back to front door.

Looking in at my sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling on my boots, he’s weaving between my legs and the bed.

“You’re not making this easy” as I scritch his back and his back side.

He’s wiggling around and bouncing, trying to convince me that he needs a sidekick.

At this point I know I can either take him with me by saying “Go wait at the front door” or “Sorry Rack you get to stay home and watch the house”.

But only on Saturday and Sunday.    Any other day and he’s fine with it.  Doing his job of guarding the corner and slacking off.

Lots of slacking off.

Rides in the Jeep are where he’s overexcited, drooling onto the tan fabric, and absolutely rigid in the passenger seat.

But it’s all in having a dog that is just about as intelligent as your average second grade honor student wrapped in fur.

Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just, someone, please, cover me.  Lunch is coming, and Pork is happening.

Wag Right For Yes, Left For Maybe Not, or How I Talk To My Dog In The Predawn Hours

There was this BBC Article that made a splash a while back.  It said that dogs are like people, their brains are wired with a preference to sides.  Left Hand and Right Hand.

There’s a difference.

With dogs, it’s Right Hand is Pleasing, Left Hand is Unsure.

Human says nice things to me and I understand so my tail wags towards the right.

Human says something I don’t like or don’t understand, I’ll wag my tail towards the left because my human is great.

Or something approaching that.

But hey, we can work with that, right, Rack?

Rack being my McNab SuperDog(TM).

The first walk of the day can be as much as two and a half hours before dawn here.  Sometimes I am even awake at that ludicrous hour.  Four-Stupid-Go-Back-To-Bed-O’Clock-You-Moron is what my watch can say.  I almost never sleep in until sunrise.

It seems that the stupid is strong in my head at that time because I tend to talk with Rack at that hour more than I do when it’s a little later.

I may not be as lucid as I would normally be later on in the day, but this works.

I go on about our circuit of the city, walking around in a big loop and I’m muttering along.  Why not, the only person awake at that hour is my dog, and perhaps the cleaning crew in the stores and bars here.

Nobody seems to mind.

I do have to be careful when I’m talking and telling jokes and generally muttering along because Rack listens.

Having read that article while trying to clear out my folder of web links, I will say that this time, it stuck in mind.

Rack is one of the happiest dogs out there that I have ever met.  He’s constantly wagging his tail.  If your dog, whether a herding dog or not, does not have a tail, you are missing something.

We’d be walking along and I’d ask him what he sees.  Sometimes I know already, its’ that cute Border Collie “teen” girl down the way. He’ll wag right because he really likes her even if he’s now a full adult and she isn’t quite.

Other times, I ask, and he isn’t sure, so he wags left.

He heard someone talking and recognized the voice, but heard some banging as well, so it started wag right then left.

There are some incredibly badly trained dogs around here.  He’s now learned how to spot them.  Some are seen every day or so and he knows them by scent.  After all, Dogs are primarily led by their noses.  If he catches that scent or hears their bark, the tail wag stops completely.

Just this morning, an hour and a half before dawn since I slept in a bit, I said “when we get home, we’re going to open up some of that new food.  You like that new food, don’t you?”

Well at this point I knew he was listening.  He looked back and did that dog-smile with mouth agape and wagged strongly to the right.

Trust in Dog, they know what they want.

I am sure it won’t work for everyone.  Some people just never figured out a strong bond with their dogs.  Other dogs are just too happy for words and you can’t really convince them to say “no” to anything.  Not us, he knows.

Last night I wanted a late snacek.  A piece of cheese off that block of Jarlsberg that I use in my Mac and Cheese.  It tastes like Swiss and has a strong scent to it.

Rack was laying down and asleep.  I had carved off three slices of the cheese and sat down in the chair.

About mid way through the first slice, he stood up.  Deciding to come over, he wanted some but was definitely not sure whether he should beg for it.  After all we have a no begging policy here that is unevenly enforced.

Wag left.  Wag strongly left.

Definitely unsure but since I did not chase him off, that shifted to an equal wag, then a decidedly strong wag right.

He had his head wedged between my leg and the arm of the chair.

“Rack what do you want?”

He really wanted that cheese.  Strong wag right.

“You know you should not be begging!”  Wag Left.  Strong wag left.  Walked away practicing Avoidance.

I finished part 1 of 3.  Setting the rest of the cheese on the handrest of the laptop, it was out of sight.  Not that that matters to dogs, mind you.

He walked over to his mat and instead of sitting on it, he sat next to it boring holes through me with twin brown laser beams.  His tail was back to wagging right.

I took a tiny piece of cheese rind and sat it on the arm of the chair.

I had some fool idea that a high value treat like a morsel of Jarlsberg was going to work for training him to stay put.

It was gone in a flash.

“Are you sure you don’t have some Labrador Retriever in you?”

I don’t think he understood that but definite Wag Right behavior there.  He was convinced that he was getting more cheese.

He would be right.  But only when I finished.

I did give him that cheese eventually but this just goes to prove.  If you watch your dog closely, and learn what he is saying to you, you may be able to have a conversation with them.

You just have to listen.

 Wag Right!

Careful What You Say In Front Of Your Dog – They Learn, Rack Did

I remember once I was watching my neighbor’s dog, Ellie.

Ellie was trained, pretty well.  She knew to put her paw on you when she needed something.  She was just not too good at explaining what she wanted.

On her best day, she was a dog.  Don’t expect them to be human, they don’t speak English.

But, they do understand it.  In fact I think it is fair to say, they understand it better than you might expect.

When my nephew Jon was a toddler, he thought I was James Brown the Soul artist.  You see, I can do a pretty good imitation of JB singing “Static!” from the song that was popular back then.

Now mind you I could not pass for James Brown at all, and while I am a fan of his art, I can’t say that a 6’4″ 220 pound White Dude could lead an iconic Soul group.  Just don’t have the “background” for it.

That’s the thought that I had in mind lately.  You see, Rack is learning English and doing so quickly. 

The other day I was telling a friend how clocks work and some of the mechanical theory behind it.

For example, A Pendulum where the string or the shaft that holds the weight that is exactly 39.1 inches or 994 mm long is a special pendulum that swings once per second and back in another second is called a Second Pendulum.  Connect that to an escapement wheel and a gear with exactly 60 teeth and you have your second hand.

Rack heard me talking and describing all this, walked over and sat down at my feet.  He then looked up at me with rapt attention like I was describing the mechanics of the universe, and everything, and finished it with the meaning of life.

It is 42, just ask Douglas Adams.  You can’t, he’s gone, but if you ask the mice and they give you an answer, you may do best to get a towel and prepare for the Vogon Constructor Fleet and the subsequent demolition of Earth.

The point is that Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) Is a superb dog.  He knows how to Dog.  He’s a dog of a lifetime, but that is because while I talk to him, I don’t expect him how to Human.  This isn’t Family Guy and he’s not Brian.

Although if I could just talk to him with full comprehension for 15 minutes… please?

Oh well.

However that Non-Human-Person presents an interesting school of thought.  People learn Language through repetition and what is important to them.

The first thing I start to teach a dog is “Show Me”.  They will learn other things first.  But “Show Me” is very important.  If you show me correctly you get what you want.

My first dog, Lettie, learned this in a week or three.  When she got older and lost her hearing all I had to do was to put my palms upward and she would walk to what she wanted or needed and I’d give it to her.

Much more efficient than rattling off a long list of things and being frustrated.   She knew that and Rack does too.

But he’s not quite as perfect at it.  Where Lettie was a lead of the pack Alpha, Rack is a definite Beta at the back of the pack of the beta dogs.  He is learning that when I say “Show Me” I am giving him permission to ask for what he wants.

It’s not perfect, on his best day, but he gets things across.

And that’s the Dog in him.  There’s miscommunication, lack of desire, and sometimes they just want attention.   As you can see, Rack sometimes just sits at my feet or stares up at me with twin brown laser beam eyes and wags his tail looking for a little attention.

Attention is a good thing.  Builds the bond.  Even if it is just sitting next to the chair you are in while you’re surfing some mindless web page.

That is how I learned “BC” is Rack for “I am going to the front door and look to see if I can find my friend the little wiggly Border Collie from down the block”.

Rack met a young female Border Collie shortly after that dog moved into the neighborhood.  She’s also a bit submissive, and her energy is the same as Rack’s is, so they get on extremely well.

Apparently I refer to her as The Bee Cee frequently because while paging through the internet, I made an aside comment under my breath.  I said “oh, BC”.

Rack got up, looked out the window, came back and gave me a confused look.  He’s far too passive to give me attitude.

“Oh, another thing you learned!  How about that!”  I’m learning Spanish so I can get out of the house without alerting him on the weekends.   For other reasons too, but teaching the people in the house that “Listo!” means I am ready to go is so far something he has not learned.

On the other hand, he knows I’m going somewhere because of the order things happen in preparing to leave.  I get full on ears up, tail wagging, brown laser beam eyes, and that gaping mouth open smile we all know.

 

“Sorry, Rack, You Stay Home and Watch The House” results in his leaving the room after dropping the act with ears dropping, tail drooping and him begging other people.

Yes, Saturdays and Sundays can be annoying unless I actually find somewhere we can take him with us.

I’m in trouble when my dog learns Spanish.  Maybe Sign Language next, although dogs understand that.   We’ve already resorted to texting in the house so as not to tip off the boy.

So yes, on his best days he’s Still a Dog, but Oh What a Dog!