Pearl, our two-and-a-half-year-old Labradoodle, returned to her old tricks recently.
We adopted Pearl through a local dog rescue operation. By six months, she didn’t sell so she either had to get out or be put down. She probably never stepped a paw outside of a cage. Kept on a diet that makes stools soft, her six square feet of space was cleaned by a disinterested worker with a hose.
It was all she knew.
Then one day she was suddenly yanked into another cage, which was scary enough, but it did something that terrified her even more: it shook as it was in transport to us, her new friends.
Needless to say she was extremely timid. She cowered under a bush for nearly a week, but slowly came out of her shell as it dawned on her that she could move about and nothing would hurt her.
Within a couple of weeks, she bonded with Sabra, becoming her shadow.
I joke sometimes how dumb Pearl is, but, in fact, she’s a very bright dog. She comes when she is called. She also sits, stays, begs, dances, and turns around on command.
Lately, we’ve been trying to teach her to shake like she does to dry off. With the voice commands we also give hand signals. The one for shake is to rotate the hand back and forth. The signal is similar to the one Buzz, our other dog, recognizes for speak. So when I try to get Pearl to shake, Buzz starts barking. This gets Pearl even more excited. Rather than shaking, which she can do if she were alone, she’ll go through all her tricks in quick succession hoping that one of them will win the treat in my hand.
Even though she is a smart dog, I still tease about how dumb she can be. On our walks, for example, she’ll mistake a stick for a snake and spend a quarter of an hour barking at it.
Dumb or smart, she loves to please as much as any animal I’ve ever met.
After our walks, I usually have to hose her off. The first couple of times I tried doing this in our basement shower stall with me on my knees and Pearl backed into a corner. This proved to be less than ideal for two reasons: I don’t kneel as well as I used to, and the wet dog fumes in the enclosed area made me nauseated.
So we moved the operation outside. That solved the air problem, but not the kneeling. After more washes than I care to admit, I had this epiphany that Pearl could stand on the old concrete stoop next to us. Now it’s a breeze to hose her off because she jumps up willingly, stands patiently while getting hosed off, and even turns on command.
Is that a good dog or what?
She can still be a bad dog, however.
For the first six months of her life, she displayed a surprising penchant for chewing things up when left unattended. She also had an amazing talent for selecting items for destruction that were extra-dear to their owner. In short order she ruined Sabra’s favorite belt, my wallet and prescription glasses, and our cell phone.
We’ve dealt with the problem by keeping her in her kennel while we are away for any length of time, but as she nears her two-year anniversary with us she pretty much has earned house privileges.
That is, until the other day when I came home to discover that she had tore into four decks of cards. The cards weren’t just any cards but cards I carefully made through photocopying and cutting. From start to finish, I had several hours invested in them. They were to be used as aides in the ESL (English as a Second Language) class I teach.
Pearl had other ideas, and scattered the 300-plus pieces of cardboard all over the house. At first, I thought the decks were completely ruined, but closer inspection revealed only minor tooth marks. And with a little diligence we were able to put all four decks back together.
The only things we didn’t find were the eight sturdy rubber bands I used to secure the decks.
Wonder where they went?