Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fail, Part Two

Today Ellen failed Intermediate Obedience.

I'd like to think it was because the rain was bucketing down



but I have to concede it might actually be because she is not very obedient.


The usual incentives didn't seem to be working


and on top of everything, she seemed to have completely lost her hearing


Fortunately, we have been given a chance to sit the test again next Thursday.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cruel And Unusual

The ABC website has just reported that a prisoner in Mobilong prison in South Australia has got himself into trouble for making this gun out of matchsticks, metal bits from around a pencil eraser, one rubber band and paint:


And how was the prisoner punished?  Was he put into solitary confinement?  Waterboarded?  Made to work extra hours in the laundry, despite the ever-present risk of someone evil burning his crafty fingers in the ironing press?  Had his sentence extended?

No.  He has been "banned from any type of craft activity."

Harsh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

You're All Winners, But...

As promised, yesterday at 5:00pm Ellen drew the winner of the Million Paws Earrings Competition.

When I was thinking about how a winner could be chosen fairly, I recalled a bible story that used to be a favorite in our family.  Not sure if you know it - it's the Parable of Ruth and the Dangling Meatballs.

For those of you who didn't have a religious upbringing, the story goes like this:

Ruth was hard at work harvesting spelt when her father came to her and said her oxen were coveted by his neighbour, and while he didn't condone that sort of thing, he'd agreed to give the neighbour one of her oxen in return for his discretion on another matter.

"But Baba," said Ruth, "I love all my oxen equally, and is it not written that whomsoever shall separate a woman from her ox is but a marmoset in the eyes of the Lord?"

"Truly, the marmoset is loathed, daughter.  But did not the Lord also say that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a log to sit in your eye?"

"No, Baba.  I don't think he said that."

"Nonetheless, you are fortunate indeed to have such fine oxen.  Especially in light of the fact that the Canaanite Property Act of 45 BC forbids women to own any chattels.  Or oxen.  You must now honour me by choosing which of your oxen you shall surrender to my dear neighbour, Ahmed the Odd."

With a heavy heart, Ruth left the field to go and choose an ox.  She tore her hair and wailed as she thought about which of her animals to give away - they were as children to her, being deliberately barren as she was.  All were loved in equal measure: Nathan, Elias, Patrick, Bryce and Susan.  Which could she lose?

Unable to make the choice herself, she decided to use the 'dangling meatball' method that the Philistines used to employ when selecting places to invade.  Securing meatballs to reeds and hanging them from an olive tree, she wrote the name of one of her beloved oxen on each.

"The Lord will choose justly," she wept, as she released Sprinkles the dog to act as His agent in this most heinous of choices.

And lo, Sprinkles ate all but one of the meatballs, and thus was Elias chosen to pay for Ahmed's silence.

So this is the method I ultimately chose.  The film is abridged, but for those of you who do not trust my integrity, the entire footage is available.


Thanks again to everyone who sponsored Ellen.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Million Pauses Walk

Ellen and I have completed the Million Paws Walk.  We both feel an enormous sense of achievement, but while I'm pumped to enter more events, this was pretty much the only non food-related thing on Ellen's bucket list.  She told me she's planning to take things easy for the next decade.

An early highlight was finding the wading pools set up around the area.  Ellen was dripping wet within seconds of arrival.


Despite her initial reluctance, Ellen decided she could appreciate the kitsch value of the event bandana, and asked me to buy her one.  She did not appreciate the monetary value of it, however, and it took some serious wrestling, with gnashing teeth, to get the thing tied around her neck.  Only slight damage sustained by the bandana and my arms.


Some of the identified highlights were:

Sniffing this dog's bum


sniffing this dog's bum


and sniffing this dog's bum


and meeting Abby and Therese Rein


and jumping on Therese Rein with muddy paws


and getting a cookie when the walk was finished


and a dogaccino


and being ringside for the traditional ferret drowning contest.


All in all, a pretty fine day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Doctor Ellen, Medicine Woman

On Thursday I was surprised to read on Ellen's school report card that she is "excellent at healing."  I'm glad she's good at something, and I will be sure to go to her next time I have an injury.

Ellen's big walk is tomorrow.  We have tapered the training, carb-loaded to the max, and got some good miles in those legs of hers.  I'm quietly confident that we're going to see a personal best.

Thank you to everyone who has already sponsored Ellen.

There's still time to sponsor her, and be in the draw for a very special pair of handmade earrings.  It's a unique opportunity to secure some fine dog/squid or other animal jewellery.  When I'm famous I'm not going to be giving them away like this, and how you will bemoan the fact you didn't leap at the chance.  Yes, that's right, bemoan.

I will draw the winner at 5:00 next Friday, 21 May, so donations can be made here up to that time.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ellen Tube

I made my first film yesterday.

It is super-excellent, and I expect it to become one of those interwebs phenomena.

Amongst Ellen's fans.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Things Forgotten

Ellen has a really endearing habit: when she wants to make friends with another dog, but her lead is too short for her to get to the other dog, she bounces up and down on her front legs and gives an excited little whine.  Just like a child, when somebody with a bucket of chips walks past.  Or was that just me?

Anyway, the habit is endearing UNLESS Ellen is supposed to be sitting quietly and listening, like the rest of her classmates.  Ellen seems to have forgotten about sitting quietly.  In fact, after tonight's class, I'm a bit worried about her memory.  Other things she seems to have forgotten are:
  1. Sit
  2. Stay
  3. Heel
  4. Her name
  5. Eye contact
  6. Not breaking through a barrier that has been erected to keep dogs out of a boggy area and emerging with a muddy belly and chin and a big grin seven minutes after I have started to yell at her
  7. Not jumping on people
  8. Walking on a loose lead
  9. Static right turns (to be honest, I'm a little hazy on them too)
  10. Drop
  11. LEEEEEEAAAVE IT
  12. Taking treats like a lady and not like she's auditioning for the upcoming live-action film of Hungry, Hungry Hippos that has a cast of dogs dressed as hippos owing to the relative expensiveness of hippos and the notorious difficulty of working with their agents.
Unfortunately all of these things will be put to the test come "Comp Day" in three weeks.

The frustrating thing is, of course, that she hasn't forgotten any of it.  She's like a driver who knows that when there's a reduced speed limit around roadworks, the lawful thing to do is to slow down.  But if there's no policeman there, and also there are some other motorists ahead, the best thing to do is to drive as fast as she can to catch up to them, and tailgate them so they feel pressured to break the law, even though they were driving along at a safe and legal speed.  But if there's a policeman there, and he's got a cheeseburger, she will drive slightly under the speed limit, and even turn on her day-running lights for extra safety.  And then the policeman will give her the cheeseburger and then she can speed off and sniff another motorist's bum.  

OK, so all analogies fall over at some point.  But the point is that it is impossible to get Ellen to do what she is asked to do unless you can offer something more alluring than a dog's bum.  The old "carrot and stick" treatment doesn't work - she literally eats both for breakfast.  Rewarding only works if she does the right thing (which she doesn't), and scolding her firmly is met by a lolling tongue out the side of a muddy mouth and big brown eyes darting between me and the pocket the treats are kept in.

Who would've thunk she is officially Obedient?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Chilling Vision Of My Future

Without knowing how I got there, a couple of days ago I found myself standing in the cattery of the RSPCA.  And there was a little black cat looking at me and making pathetic little mewing noises and rubbing the bars of the cage with his very soft coat, and he looked like he was trying to tell me he loved me, or at least would like me to feed him immediately and worm him every twelve weeks and forgive him for pulling loops out of my carpet, and forgive him for gashing my ankles when he is older because he'd been inappropriately taught by someone when he was young that it's fun and acceptable to rough-house with hands and feet even though somebody with more smarts told that person he or she should be teaching the cat to engage with toys, not fingers.

Fortunately, on this occasion I was able to snap out of my trance and escape cat-free.  But I am not sure I will always be so strong, and I'm scared of where it might lead.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Embetterment

For those of you who doubt Ellen has made any real progress, let me remind you of what she used to do when she got into the kitchen cupboard:


She is nowhere near as messy now she is more mature and officially Obedient.

Nowadays, when she gets into the cupboard she piles up all the chewed containers neatly on her bed.


Much better.

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