Monday, December 01, 2003

The Next Generation

When Remington was young, he hated to expose his tummy. It was a chore to teach him to roll over, but that was one of my early training successes in breaking things down into minuscule-enough bits for the dog to get it and want to do it.

As reward--in addition to food--I used to rub his tummy. He decided he liked that, and started to roll onto his back in the morning on the bed. And since he hadn't even been allowed on the bed for the first 2 years we had him, simply being there was a wonderful thing. It was a short step from there to simply doing the Upside Down Dog thing--wriggling around on his back, kind of growling and talking about what a pleasure it was to be upside down.

It evolved into a whole routine. He'd wriggle and kick, and I'd put my hands against his rear feet so he'd have something to really kick into, which got him even more excited. I'd talk about what a wonderful upside-down dog he was in an excited voice, and that was even better.

When Jake came to live with us, the Upside-Down Dog thing seemed to bemuse him at first, but he quickly caught on and would join in in his own exaggerated little-dog way, yelping and jerking and rolling his back and head on the bedspread.

Jake has kept up the tradition since Rem has been gone. Now I even do the rear-feet-kicking thing with him, which he wasn't sure what to do about originally, but now it also seems to get him going.

Tika, who is really quite an independent girl, watches, yet she says nothing. What of that! The closest she's gotten is that sometimes, after Jakes' done rolling around and I've finished saying "What an upside down dog, yes you are!" in a cheery way several dozen times, and I roll over and start trying to exit the bedcovers, Tika pushes right up against me, rolls over onto her back, and lies there, demanding to have attention.

But no rolling around, no chitchatting about the glorious of upside-downness.

I noticed that there's no more howling, either.

Sheba howled sometimes. I don't remember whether she started the howling at sirens, but for sure Remington took up the challenge and made it his responsibility to let the untamed song rise from his soul and emerge in a pure and haunting tone from his pursed lips, nose tipped towards the heavens.

Jake, who is NOT the independent sort (most of the time), took it upon himself to try to copy Remington. He had the most annoying yelp/shriek/bark combo, trying to tilt his head back and do what Remington was doing. It was very cute, but it was not a howl. His wolf ancestors would have been horrified, or maybe moved to hysterical laughter.

Now that Rem's gone, there's no howling at sirens. Jake sometimes notices that they're out there, and whines--quick, sharp, concerned whines, as if he knows that there's something important that needs to be done but he's just not the one to lead the way.

I've never heard Tika howl at all, although she looks like she should have a really good one inside her somewhere. She has also never shown any sign of reacting to sirens.

It's the changing of the dog generations; whole routines and habits go by the wayside.

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