Posted 06-23-2004 at 04:29:17
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Have you ever tried to walk on tiptoe while carrying a thirty pound bucket of feed in each hand? It sounds like a military exercise, doesn't it? Or a torture tactic. But it's not. It's just another day in paradise here, now that the puppies have come 'out of the closet'.
We were terrified to let them run loose. Afraid they would end up under a tire or something, but so far, they have instinctively shown a healthy respect for moving vehicles. Moving people, is another story.
Nowadays, being 'ambushed' by the three remaining puppies is a regular daily occurence. They work as a unit. I don't know if they are whispering strategies to each other, or if they just know the most effective way to 'bring down the 'two-legs', but bring us down they do.
You can tell who've they gotten and how badly, just by the string of curse words. I've gotten to where I don't even look up anymore when the air goes blue with canine insults dotted generously with bad language.
"You stupid little *&!! Are you trying to kill us both?!"
That would be Fred, the most frequent victim, as he staggers around trying not to put his foot down directly in the middle of a wriggling brown puppy.
"We gotta do something about this, Cindi!" Fred will mutter, as he staggers across the yard, one pup latched on to a shoestring, another, clamped down on a pant leg, and the third weaving in and out between his feet.
"Tie their tails together." I offered.
I laughed at him when he had to get on the ground to work on the bush hog. One pup stole his hat and took off into the shed with it, where he abandoned it. He was content merely to have gotten away with it. Another found the fine sheen of sweat on Fred's forehead and proceeded to give him a tender bath, his tongue striking like a snake as Fred swatted at him...a useless defense technique. Especially since Fred was primarily concerned with the pup that had ahold of his shirt tail, yanking for all he was worth. All while I watched, enjoying the scene.
"Could you possibly help me out here?" His voice cracked under the strain of trying to protect himself and I merely laughed.
"Hey...nobody helped me. You're supposed to be smarter than they are."
"Smarter yes, faster no...hey! Hey! He has my grease rag!"
It was true. It was the hat stealer, bounding across the yard with Fred's grease rag. Into the shed he went with his new prize. I made a mental note to check later and see just what all he had stashed in there. I knew to expect the hat and the grease rag. Maybe I would find the towel that had gone missing from the front porch.
Against my better judgement, I shared my secret knowledge.
"You have to growl at them." I said.
I had learned to growl at the pups, which makes them stop and stare long enough that I can pass by without ending up in a heap on the ground. But that knowledge did not come for free. I paid for it. Big time.
There was a long silence and then a hearty laugh.
"Hey, I'm telling you how to handle them. Laugh if you want, but it works."
"Sure. This is just another one of your sly attempts to make me do something stupid. It ain't gonna happen."
I learned what I learned the hard way... out of desperation. I used the tiptoe technique at first. I ended up flat on my face with two buckets of spilled feed before I realized that stronger measures were necessary, so I got to watching their mother. She got her point across by growling. I tried it, and it worked for me as well.
"I'm telling you, if you want to keep them out from under foot you have to speak their language."
"You speak their language. I'll speak mine...you sneakin' little fart! Go get my hat!"
The hat stealer had returned looking for new merchandise.
After thirty minutes of watching him swat and listening to him yell, finally out of desperation, the growl came of it's own accord, born out of frustration.
His growl was a lot better than mine. Where mine sounded a lot like a cat whose tail had been slammed in the door, his sounded like the roar of an African lion. First three sets of brown eyes stared at him in stunned silence. Fred and the puppies were each frozen in place, waiting to see what would happen next. Finally one by one, the canine marauders slunk away, their tails tucked between their legs.
"See? Told you."
"It must be a lot of work being the authority on everthing." Fred said snidely.
""Yeah...it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it."
The only thing left to do is perfect our growling techniques. Some day, and it's not that far in the future, growling will cease to be effective and I don't know what we'll do then. I guess we'll just have to keep our eyes on Sugar and see what she does. (grin)