Today two pop-up dog bowls came from Amazon, one pink and the other blue. They are really cute and incredibly practical for things like camping and traveling. I wanted Sophie to like them right off.
Sophie can be finicky to the point of being maddening. There are times I look at her and just want to shriek or cry or something equally dramatic. She will stand her ground and no amount of effort on my part, including flanking her, aka whipping out a pound of flank steak, will change her mind. She is in charge of herself, thank you very much. Before the fire she was just a stubborn smart hound. Since the fire she has developed strong negative reactions to things that are new. Not all new things but some. I cannot quite discern what the trigger for “scary, cower” is but it is sad and incredibly frustrating for all of us.
It was with that background that I approached her new pink water bowl. I was worried that if we had one fraction of a failure with the bowl we were done. It would never change. We would have to add one more thing to the “too scary, Mom” list and I could chalk up another $8 purchase that would be passed on to her cousin dogs who have the discretion to be happy-go-lucky hounds. It sounds like I am not sensitive to her plight. I truly am. It is heart breaking to see my former happy hound being a scaredy dog. Most of the time she still lives up to her old nickname of “Happy Dog” but some things are just too much.
I have been spending a lot of time in the office which is upstairs in this huge temporary house. The stairs are wide without handrails and they have developed “character” over the past 35 years so getting up and down them is a bit of a chore. I usually just bring my lunch and a thermos of tea upstairs and settle in for the day. Sophie has a relief station on a deck upstairs so things work quite handily. Almost.
Through the fall and into the early winter, Sophie had a water bowl upstairs and enjoyed taking a lap now and again. There is almost no surface in this house that is not shag covered so I had put the bowl on a nice doggie place mat on the ground level tile fireplace hearth that is in the master bedroom. I don’t think anyone has ever used the hearth and it seemed like a good idea. She liked her bowl. One in January the winter wind whumpped down the metal chimney and that was it. The end.
“We don’t drink upstairs. I will wait until you go on an expedition to the downstairs to get a drink of water. Come to think of it, I won’t ever have a drink of water again thank you very much.”
We had finally surmounted the “Mommie, don’t make me go on that side of the room the wind in the chimney is scary” phase and were no where near the lets-drink-water upstairs part. It was with trepidation that I carefully opened the bowl upstairs so it would not whump and then, speaking in a happy voice, invited her to come with me to the kitchen sized bathroom and where I filled her bowl with what she knows as “nice fresh water for Sophie.” Happy, cheerful voice. You know the voice, we use it with pets, children and sometimes people who are sick or frail. It is a “Mommie says this is happy, you know she would not try to trick you, it must be happy” voice. Believing the mommie voice, she happily trotted along beside me and watched me fill the bowl. I placed the bowl and the nice doggie place mat right beside my desk. I carefully placed the bowl on the mat so the water would not swirl or make noise or any other manner of insanely stupid things a dog-parent will do for success with a new training task. She looked with interest at me wondering what was coming from the bowl. When she saw that it was nice fresh water “Ho, hum. I see you have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich you are eating. You could give me that, it looks good. I will trade you a bowl of water.”
“Right I said, you are not getting my lunch.” She sat by the water bowl and stared at me. I was torn between wanting my 9 year old, well behaved hound to quit being such a brat over a sandwich and not breathing or making any fast movements lest the bowl become scary. She was actually sitting beside it which I counted as exceedingly wonderful; she was not across the room cowering from a pink waterbowl.
She stared at me. I stared at her. She stared at my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I stared her pink pop-up water bowl. She sighed. I sighed. Suddenly inspiration hit. I pulled off a small piece of the crust off the bread and tossed it into her waterbowl. As my hand crossed her field of vision she followed it with an open mouth expecting her toungue to be graced with a bit of ‘butter. Her eyes went to the bowl and consternation. “Mommie just got confused. I don’t know why she needs to wash her sandwich. I could eat it for her if she wants.” She looked back at me and I peeled of another small bit of sandwich and tossed it into her bowl. From sandwich to water she followed with her eyes ending with a pop of surprise when yet another tidbit of PB & J went into the water bowl. I pulled my hand back and went back to work, or so it looked. I did not want to be caught staring at her or she might think something was going on and if something was going on she would have no truck with that.
Of course, I was watching closely out of the corner of my eye hoping fervently that she would not get scared.
I don’t know what I was expecting. I was not expecting her to turn, look in the bowl, step back and then go directly to the bowl and start lapping up water. It was clear that she was trying to get the water to go away so she could get to the morsel in the bottom of the bowl. She took a good long lap, lifted her head, peered at the target now disenteragrate whole grain with nine nuts and seeds bread Somewhere in that hound mind she must have decidd that not enough water was gone to get to the desired bread crumb. She returned to lapping with such voricity that I was worried she would be sick from bloating on that much water. She stepped back again and surveyed the bowl. She turned her head sidewayw and tried to get the bread. Mission not yet acomplishabel. She went back and drank down enough more water to get to the bread. I kept thinking about the Crow and the Water Pitcher fable.
The pink pop-up water bowl is approved. I attaned my goal between being playful and carefully and being a bit over the top by tossing bread into her bowl. When we get home to our new house we will take her not-scary bowls with us.