a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Evil Devil Floor(s)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Evil Devil Floor(s)

SUMMARY: Boost's brain explodes over--flooring.

Boost has been known to have brain implosions over various terrifying things. Like the radio controlled car. The guys tossing a football in the street. Some odd smell at an agility trial. Things that make her tuck her tail and melt into a pool of miserable and mindless terror.

She gets better as she matures, but I know that if I start to see those little signs at a trial, I'd better get a toy in her mouth as fast as possible and devote my full attention to her.

So. Back in March, we did a CPE trial up in Santa Rosa and went to the Tie Dye house to spend the night. Because we're friends with Tie Dye, she has kindly allowed us to stay overnight on quite a few occasions. She has a couple of wild little agility cattle dogs who can be a bit overwhelming when you first come through the door, but the last couple of times we spent the night, Boost and the younger one chased each other madly around the house and yard. So we have all been there before, and there was never a sign of Evil.

Until this time.

I don't know what happened when we first arrived. The ACDs were dervishes of bouncing and barking insanity as we arrived at the door, and Boost thought it would be better to turn around and go back out to the car, but I did convince her to come in through the door. Took the leashes off the dogs into a burst of doggish activity, then I hung out with Tie Dye until our tea was ready, when we sat at the table in the dining area.

Realized gradually that I was hearing Boost whining in the background. Did we somehow close a door on her? Did one of the huge dangerous ACDs have her intimidated into a corner? No--she was sitting on the doormat inside the front door, all by herself, noone else in sight, looking plaintively at me and whining.

"Well, come over here!" I said, thinking that perhaps I had said something that made her think she had to stay there. She stood up and moved her feet agitatedly, not quite stepping off the mat, then sat again and whimpered.

And I realized--somehow the wood floor had become Evil. Now--I have wood flooring in my house, but not as much of it. The stairs are wood. The upstairs hall is wood, but most if it is covered with rugs. It's not as if we don't have smooth floors at home. Tile and sheet vinyl as well. Lots of smooth flooring.

With tremendous angst on Boost's part, I managed to get her to scrabble across the small stretch of floor to the carpet in the living room. I figured that, once she was there, everything would be fine and she'd come join us in the dining area.

But--no--she ascertained that the Evil wood floor on THIS side of the carpet was the same as the Evil wood floor on THAT side of the carpet, and none shall pass. She tried and tried, moaning and whining. She'd get her front feet two or three feet out into the wood--stretching wayyyyy out--but her hind feet...the very tips of her back-stretched toenails... remained firmly latched onto the very edge of the carpet.

Apparently Evil Flooring has a thing only for hind legs.

I know I shouldn't have laughed, but I couldn't help myself. I got her really involved in a game of tug-o-war on the living room carpet, because she gives herself 100% and then some into tug. She is a frantic, over-enthused, manic tugger. I figured that, if I gradually worked over to the side of the carpet and onto the wood floor, she wouldn't even notice that she had crossed the line.

But--well--they say that dogs have great peripheral vision. She would be 100% full-body tugging, but the instant that another step would put a foot onto Evil, she dropped the tug. Tried this several times; she knew EXACTLY to the inch where Evil began and she'd have none of that.

I tried picking her up and putting her down on the floor, supporting her. She tensed up so drastically that her toenails stuck out at all odd angles and her legs splayed out as if she were trying to keep her balance on the slippery deck of a storm-tossed ship. And her whining became agonized.

So I moved her onto the dining room doormat, and there she stayed for a while.

Eventually I moved her back into the living room, and then when she became desperate enough to brave the Evil, she managed it on rigid, terrified, crouching legs ONLY by closely hugging the wall, one careful, agonized, whimpery step at a time--I guess so that, if Evil suddenly tried to leap up and surround her, she could climb up the wall. Can't cross the open floor, but with great pain can cross the floor along the wall.

And back to the doormat, where she sat, looking put upon.

At bedtime, I had to carry her from the doormat to the carpeted stairs. I figured that, after a nice quiet night's sleep in a familar (carpeted) room, that the next morning they'd just breeze downstairs without another thought to the previous night's Evilness.

So, up bright and early, down the stairs--and Boost will not leave the bottom--carpeted--step. I coax and coax and coax, and she'll stretch her front feet wayyyy out into the wood, but the back feet will NOT leave the carpeted step.

So. What to do? OK, Tie Dye's kitchen floor is almost exactly the same flooring as in my kitchen--high-end sheet vinyl textured like slate. So I figured (note how much figuring I'm doing here) that, if I picked her up and set her down on a familiar type of flooring, she'd be fine. Figure again! The poor terrified doggie! Took a few excruciatingly painful, stiff, hunched over steps, right up next to the cabinets for safety--sinking lower and getting stiffer with every step, until she completely froze and started yowling in terror.

I laughed until I cried. I am such a bad mom. This is the same kitchen floor upon which she romped last visit. Had dinner there. Drank water there. And on several previous visits.

So I had to carry her back to the front doormat to be able to get back out to the car.

End of story, right? Leave Tie Dye house and whatever trauma had caused this, and life would be good?

So. It's two weeks later, the Monday before Haute TRACS, and we're all going over to KK's house to do scribe sheets. We do this very thing before many, many Bay Team trials. All the dogs go over there; Tika and Boost know where the doggie door is; Dig the puppy and Boost played til exhaustion the last couple of times we were there, frolicking full speed across the (note) wood floors throughout the house. We have been there many times since Boost was a puppy.

We arrive. I make my way through the mass of excited KK border collies, Tika heads out to the kitchen to check for scraps of food that the 3 resident dogs might have missed, and I stroll across the wide expanse of floor to the work area.

And guess who's still stuck on the front doormat, whimpering? Gah!

There is a small carpet in the living room, and as I ignore her for quite a while, she gets up her courage and LEAPS from the doormat to the living room carpet--then hovers at the edge closest to us, whining and looking plaintive.

As the evening progresses, she SOOOO desperately wants to get to where we are, and to get to the fun toys that the other dogs have left around the floor--BUT! There is Evil all around her!

We are astonished and greatly amused to discover that she stretches fuuuuuuurther and fuuuuurther out towards a delectable toy--can't quite get it--streeeetches more--and now her rear feet have actually left the carpet, but they're still stretched out way bhind her as if the were still latched to the fabric... she gets a full three feet away from the carpet, but still stretched out as though anchored by her rear toenails...decides she can't actually get to the toy without incurring Evil, backs hastily back onto the carpet, and sits at the edge and whines.

We lay down a couple of throw rugs so that she can actually move around by leaping from one to the next, like a frog might hop from lily pad to lily pad to avoid getting his feet wet.

Finally, after at least a couple of hours there, she dares to struggle across the actual Evil--tightly hugging the wall and large pieces of furniture for security-- and huddle at my feet under the table. She still lusts after some choice toys, and tries stretching out to them from close by the table--apparently the piece of floor she has currently conquered is no longer Evil, but the rest of the floor has not been exorcised and is The Devil Himself, so she cannot get there.

I wish I'd taken pictures. Or video. Ah, well. Poor dog.

Why did this floor inherit the Evil from the other floor? Why did the other floor become Evil Incarnate in the first place? Why are my nearly identical floorings at home still OK? Mere humans will never know and never understand.

And what will happen the next time we spend the evening at KK's or at Tie Dye's? Tune in for our next thrilling episode of Boost and the Evil Floor.


  1. Awww Poor Boost! I'm laughing till I'm crying. It's so hard to figure out what they are thinking sometimes. Other times it's so OBVIOUS what they're thinking! That's why we love them, right? Their complexity?