Fellow dog lovers commonly compliment our Australian Shepherd, Sydney, on her beauty. She is one of those tri-colored mixes, black brown and white, with chocolate eyes that can lure visitors straight to her personalized box of biscuits (it's from Milk Bone and it has her picture on the front).
When she was a younger bitch, the beauty was needed as a way to keep her place in our home. Most people are aware of the Aussie reputation for high doggie intelligence, but the consequences of this feature are not as prized with the owners as they are with outsiders. She could take an avocado off the table, delicately peel it, lick out all traces of the yummy green insides, and have no idea how the pit and skin got on the floor when we got home. After eating a box of pink candy once, she was baffled as to how we knew she had eaten it. I suppose being canine color blind prevented her from witnessing the lovely pink her once white chest had become.
The best food trick she had was opening glass jars. Having purchased a bag of those incredibly great tasting macadamia nuts, I foolishly thought they would be safe to store in a glass jar on the high kitchen counter. Wrong. When I got home, the empty, open, unbroken jar was on the floor. She opened it with her lady like teeth after safely retrieving it off the counter.
Speaking of glass, we once had a glass front door. Everyday when the mailman came, she would throw her self against it and bark with wild abandon until he went away. I suppose she thought she was doing a great job as the mailman never stayed long on our porch. Did you notice my choice of words in writing that we once had a glass front door? After months of being slammed against by our loving Sydney, the door finally broke free from it's daily harassment. We weren't home but learned from neighbors that our snarling baby busted through the glass and was greeted by a shooting of pepper spray from the mailman. That was the first of two write-ups, and three postal pepper sprays, the postal service sent us for our beauty. I think she is still on their list of three strikes and you're out.
When we got home that afternoon, we pulled up to a happy dog standing in the middle of a once unbroken glass door. I don't know how she managed to not deliver a scratch to herself--not one drop of blood.
Oh, and getting loose. Aussies do not do well when left alone. She broke out of three fences, each one reportedly too strong for a dog to get out of. You know those metal kennels that no dog can break? Well, Sydney proved that theory wrong, too.
All that being said, our once rambunctious challenging Sydney is now a ripe and lovely twelve. She takes breaks on long walks and thinks walking up the stairs is some kind of punishment we have concocted for her. Used to be that she would herd the other dogs at the dog park, now she watches all the silly youngsters while laying down.
Her greatest joy now is car rides, short walks on cool evenings, and licking the cats clean. She still gives them baths that leave them sopping in dog saliva; the cats love it and will tap her mouth for more.
Once Sydney is gone, my dog days are over. Somehow, over the years, that damned challenging dog crept into my heart and ruined me for ever being able to love another dog again. How does that happen?