a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Evil Floors and Working Dogs

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Evil Floors and Working Dogs

SUMMARY: Boost copes and National Geo show.
Last night, in the pouring rain, the Merle Girls and I drove an hour up to Alameda to watch the National Geographic Video And Man Created Dog with friends.

The Other Ellen and her wife live in an interesting one-story Victorian ("the second story burned, so they just knocked off the charred remains and added a roof to what was left"). This means, naturally, that the floors are all naked wood.

Boost stepped through the door and froze: Evil Floor Hell! She managed to somehow leap from the entry all the way onto the back of their couch, scrabbled her way to the seat, and tried tried tried to figure out how to leap from there to where I was standing without ever actually touching the Evil Floor.

She summoned the courage to leave the couch and started the first defensive method for traversing Evil Floors, which is half crouched, toes splayed, and hugging the walls and furniture as closely as she can (because apparently they make it safer somehow, like maybe if the Evil Floor begins to consume her, she can just climb up the wall).

Then The Other Ellen got out some string cheese and started feeding Boost every time she was brave enough to come into the middle of the floor. Boost started with the second defensive maneuver, which is to keep her back feet stretched out wayyy behind her to remain in contact with--uh--somewhere behind her (no longer has an edge of a carpet to hang onto, for example--it's just something that she apparently picked up from hanging onto the edges of carpets in past experiences with Evil Floors and determined that it must be a good safety device). She'd take the cheese and quickly back up to the wall again.

But within a few minutes, she had completely relaxed and was walking around the house like a normal dog. Huh. Maybe I'll have to take string cheese with me wherever we go in case there are Evil Floors.

She even found a tennis ball and started dropping it incessantly for me to throw. One thing about old houses is that sometimes the floors tilt, and this appeared to be slightly the case here, so I got some reprieve in that every time Boost dropped the ball, it rolled away from her into the room, so she had to go get it and bring it back. When I continued refusing to throw it, she went into her usual PAY ATTENTION TO ME mode by noisily dumping the entire box of tennis balls. (In other words, this was all completely normal.)

I discovered that i could just hold the tennis ball in my open palm and she'd stand there staring at it for several minutes, and that was a good distraction for a while.

We had a tasty dinner and snacks and dessert and watched the video. It mixed perhaps unintentionally amusing moments with intriguing dog facts. (This segment [sorry--have to wait through a 30-second ad first], talking about flock guardian dogs, had us almost in hysterics with the bad guy at the beginning, but then goes into modern flock guardians and it's pretty interesting, especially if you didn't already know how they work.)

It's a 90-minute show and worth a watch if you haven't seen it. Lots of Border Collies in it, and none, that I could see, having problems with Evil Floors. Maybe Boost just needs a real, outdoors, floor-free job involving sheep. Or maybe I could just hold one in the palm of my hand for several hours. Whatever works.


  1. String cheese is cool because you can get it any where, it doesn't stink up your hands, and you can eat it yourself if you like.

    We'll have to have Boost around to test out the levelness of our floors again.

  2. I meant to comment on the apparent nonlevelness but somehow thought of it only when something else interesting was going on and then it was out the other side of the brain again.

  3. *Still* afraid of those Evil Floors? Poor Boost. How embarrassing. Hehe.

    Amazing how she turned around so quickly though -- the wonders of string cheese.

  4. I would love to see you hold a sheep in your hand to have Boost stare at it. It'd have to be a VERY small sheep, though.

  5. In my German 1 class, I learned to say, "Ich habe ein auto in meiner Hand." I guess if I can do an auto, I can do a sheep.

  6. 2Do, who is related to Boost, has recently had an evil floor melt down on glossy white tiles. It may be in the genes. No length of string cheese would appease him.

  7. Boost has been working on her issue for 2 years, since whatever happened when she was about 4 triggered it. I've tried to take her to lots of places with evil floors, and she seems to have been slowly getting over it, so maybe the time is just ripe and she's just experienced enough for the little floor-walking brain cells to kick back into gear.

  8. Boost resembled the dog in the Hyperbole and a Half blog would wouldn't walk in booties only roll. :)