Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Boogie's Summit

Boogie, our black Lab (seen here recovering from this mornings ordeal with the aid of her much-loved "binky" Froggy-Bop), absolutely lives up to her complete name of “Full Tilt Boogie”. That girl is 85 pounds of on, all the time (unless she’s asleep). She has worn a figure-eight in the backyard that I fear will never recover enough to support life again. At the almost middle age of just over five years, she still drops off to sleep instantly, just like when she was a puppy. On or Off, those are her two speeds.

And she’s practically fearless (when she’s in her fenced-in backyard … put her on a leash and take her for a walk and it’s an entirely different story, though, the big, giant pansy). The only time Bear (she has many nicknames) has trouble in the backyard is when we get freezing snow. She and her littermate, Kaia (our yellow Lab), access the backyard from the kitchen, which is on the second floor; so they have to descend the steps from the deck to the yard.

Their very first Winter, the morning after a freeze, they both charged out the door, across the deck, and halfway down the frozen stairs before gravity took over and deposited them ass-over-teakettle in a squealing, tangled, heap of shock at the bottom of the icy steps. Kaia promptly forgot about it and enjoyed her first romp in the snow. Boogie has never forgotten, and first freeze every year since has been extremely traumatic for her.

This year was no different, as I discovered this morning. After having left them outside over an hour playing in the yard (they’re a little nuts and love the cold), I went to let the girls in before leaving for work (actually to bring the Durango to the dealership, but that’s an entirely different “check engine light" story). Kaia came right inside, arrowing straight to the cookie jar for her morning treat, but no sign of Bear.

Now, you have to understand: these two are joined at the hip … on those very rare occasions one comes inside while the other remains outside, its only to stand less than two feet away from one another, barking through the (usually) closed door in some doggy version of a “you come here … no you come here ” argument (which Boogie generally wins through sheer persistence).

Anyway, back to this morning; no Boogie, and Kaia is totally unconcerned. I call Bear, and get a pathetic little yip in return, so I go into the back bedroom to look out the window down into the backyard. Sure enough, my little chicken is cowering at the bottom of the stairs, tail tucked in, terrified.

So, how did I get her inside? First I stood at the top of the stairs and encouraged her. No dice. Then I went down into the backyard and tried walking her up the steps. No way, no deal. Eventually I did walk her up, but not in a straightforward manner, oh no! I started with three steps; she sniveled her way up them to me, and ducked and ran back down to the yard. We do this twice, then I pull a change-up on her and go up five steps. Bear comes up four and runs for the hills. And every time she beats a hasty retreat to the yard during this fun fest she has to take a courage-building circuit of her figure-eight before she comes back for more torture.

Eventually we worked our way up and down the steps, me laughing the entire time (she's just too funny), until on the last attempt Boogie realized she was closer to the deck than the yard so charged up the last couple steps instead of down the eight hundred and sixty two she’d already traversed (okay, that may very well be a tad subjective on my part, but it sure felt like that many).

Oh joy! Oh rapture! The celebration that ensued when Bear reached her summit!! Rocky Balboa has nothing on my girl. Cookies for everyone! Sigh. We’ll do it all over again next year (or next week, depending on the weather).

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