Hey! Put That Back!

We’ve established that Jacques is OCD, ADHD, and all sorts of just plain weird. I like to have fun with that knowledge as much as possible. And by “fun” I mean fun for me… not necessarily fun for him.

My house often looks like a kindergarten class room – toys and toy remnants strewn throughout. It’s like a ridiculous obstacle course. And if you have to get up in the middle of the night, well, you’re taking your life into your own hands. “Why don’t you just clean it up?” you may ask. We have and we do, but a certain neurotic dog has certain places for his toys and if you move them it sends him into full on panic mode. (This is where the fun begins.)

When I vacuum (which is often with two furry beasts and a husband in the house), I have the joy of picking up all of Jacques toys. It doesn’t matter where he is in the house; he knows when you’ve picked up a toy. It’s like some weird Westie-sense. He immediately comes tearing into wherever you are and starts watching you with a panicky/ pissed off look on his face. It’s almost as if he’s saying, “What are you doing?? I put that there for a reason!!” He watches as you pick up one toy after another, eyes following your hand as you go from ground to arm with the toy. (It’s really weird. Like borderline creepy.) Then when you move to the next room to continue the cleanup, he’s right on your heels – literally on your heels – grumbling and carrying on the whole time. He’s even thrown himself (in dramatic fashion) in front of me and/or on top of a toy to stop me from picking any more up, but I’m bigger and have opposable thumbs. I win.

"No!! You cannot have it!!"

“No!! You cannot have it!!”

He’ll follow me around the house as I pick up toys, grumbling and looking panicked the whole time. It doesn’t take long to get an arm full of toys so I usually have to make several trips to the toy basket in the office. Well, I used to make several trips. When I would go back to drop off another armload of toys, I’d come to the office only to find all the toys I put away strewn about the office (and him sitting amongst the mess looking smugly triumphant).  So, now I either get all the toys in one trip or take the toy basket with me, which still results in him emptying the basket and sitting smugly in the mess within a few minutes…

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Jacques was guarding his toys...

Jacques was guarding his toys…

So one day, I upped the game. I put his toys in the washing machine! (Okay, I didn’t realize I upped the game until after the fact. The office smelled like dog and I thought washing the toys would help alleviate the smell.) He was baffled and panic stricken as he watched me put his precious, precious toys into the washing machine. He sat and stared at the machine throughout the entire wash cycle, occasionally whining and grumbling. (It was pretty funny. Although I’m sure he was plotting some sort of doggie revenge the whole time.) He did the same when I put them in the dryer. When the dryer was done, his toys weren’t completely dry, so I put them on a clothes rack. Oh the fun I had with that!! He didn’t know which baby to look at or what to do. He almost had a mental meltdown staring at these toys that he couldn’t get. I, on the other hand, laughed like a crazy person and enjoyed every minute of it.

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And for those of you who are feeling sorry for Jacques, don’t. When the toys dried, I put them all in the toy basket… and within minutes they were strewn throughout the house. Jacques was calm, almost peaceful at that point. And smug. He definitely looked smug. Jacques may win this battle, but I get my victories in when and where I can. I have since washed his toys several more times. Partly because they needed it; partly because I needed the laugh.

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The One Thing the Internet Didn’t Lie About

Jacques does many strange things. We’ve established this. I know, I know… dogs, cats, people – we all do weird things. It just seems like most everything he does is strange, but that could be a whole other post (and probably will be). In this particular case, there was a pattern emerging in some of his strange behaviors…

During the winter months, I noticed Jacques spending a lot of time near the fireplace. And when I say “near” I don’t mean close by or on the hearth. I mean on the hearth, backed up next to the chainmail screen thingy we have – like if he got any closer he’d be IN the fire. He would just sit there and look content. If I sat on the hearth to warm myself up, he’d come snuggle up next to me while making sure that some part of his body was almost in the fire. (Before anyone gets too alarmed, we have a gas fireplace with gas logs, so there’s no danger of embers catching him or anything else on fire.) I thought the whole thing was amusingly odd and just laughed it off as one of his quirks.
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During springtime, I’d catch him “sunning” himself outside in one of our patio chairs or next to a brick wall in direct sunlight. There were times when he would bark like crazy and run frantically through the house – usually an indicator that he REALLY needs to relieve himself – and when I’d let him outside, he’d run to the middle of the yard, stop, literally fall over where he stood, and lay there to sun himself. He did this A LOT. I thought he was doing a Wall-E impression… using the sun to recharge his batteries. Actually, I had no clue what he was doing. I just figured my dog was strange.
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My husband and Rocky like the house cool (and by “cool” I mean “sub-arctic”) so year round I have a space heater that I use (well, try to use) in my office or when we’re watching movies in the media room. I don’t get much benefit from it anymore because Jacques now places himself directly in front of it. I’ve looked down and seen his head touching the font of the heater (I shrieked and moved him)… I’ve even see him licking the heater! Yes, licking the heater. If I turn the heater on and don’t stay in the room to claim my spot in front of it, I get what little warm air gets past Jacques. “Just move him” you might think. Yeah, well, he might be small, but when he goes completely limp and becomes nothing but dead weight… he’s not that easy to move. Besides, as my husband would say, I’m a sucker.
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One day – after a particularly amusing bought of Jacques’ frantic barking and clawing at the back door that was followed by him running full speed outside, slamming on the brakes, and falling over into the grass to sun himself – a vague distant bell sounded in my head. I sort of remembered reading something on the internet about finding Westies curled up in the warmest part of the house or sunning themselves. I had initially dismissed those statements because everything else the internet told me about Westies was a BIG. FAT. LIE. Apparently there was one sliver of truth amidst all the lies.

They didn’t really say why this was “typical” Westie behavior. I still think it’s some sort of Wall-E type thing where they need the sun and heat to fuel their insanity, er, playfulness. Hmm… Maybe if I kept Jacques from doing these things he would be a little saner. But what fun would that be??! I’ve already made peace with the fact that I have a certifiably insane dog. I might as well get to laugh at him, er, laugh about it, right??

Jacques doing his Wall-E impression...

Jacques doing his Wall-E impression…

Who’s Afraid of the Water??

In all of the research I did about Westies before adopting Jacques, I didn’t see anything about them liking (or disliking) the water. Needless to say, I was unsure how he would do in and around water. The first few times we bathed him, he was a little rattled, but did fine. Now anytime he hears bathwater running, he’ll come barreling into the bathroom – and if the bath isn’t for him, you have to catch him otherwise he’ll cannonball right into the tub. (He seems to be less enthusiastic about the bath once my husband starts dumping water on him.)

One day my husband and I decided to take Rocky and Jacques for a short hike around a nearby lake and let them go for a swim afterwards (one of Rocky’s favorite things). As we ended our hike and started looking for a good place to let the boys play in the water, we walked out onto one of the fishing docks. Jacques saw some geese on the water and went absolutely crazy then took off full speed towards them – barking and flailing like a possessed dog. Luckily we weren’t far from the side of the dock… and thankfully my husband had a good hold on his leash. Jacques was barking, geese were honking and flapping their wings, I was loudly trying to command Jacques to “leave it” (HA!!) – it was utter chaos for a very long 45 seconds before the geese flew away and we were able to contain our furry mess of a dog. It took Jacques another few minutes to calm down and realize that the geese were gone and that he couldn’t go after them. (You would think by this point I would know that my dog is insane… but nooo. Sometimes I think it’s *me* who has the problem with sanity. Or lack thereof.)

We left the dock in search of some suitable shoreline for the boys to explore. When we finally found some (away from people and geese), we removed the boys’ leashes and let them wander. Rocky meandered along the shoreline, occasionally going into the water just far enough to get his belly wet. He was more interested in smelling everything than swimming. Even after the great goose debacle, I figured Jacques was too much of a fraidy cat to actually get in the water. I figured wrong.

He had been meandering along the shoreline behind Rocky when he spotted something in the water – something he wanted to get. He literally hurled himself into the water and started swimming away from us. At first we were puzzled, then amused… then a little worried. Jacques had seen a large tree trunk sticking out of the water and went to investigate – the worrisome part was that this tree trunk was 30-40 feet from the shore. I started freaking out because I didn’t know if the little pork chop would be able to swim that far and back. I had no idea what his swimming abilities were like. I had terrible images of him getting tired and drowning running through my mind.

My husband wasn’t terribly concerned, but as we watched Jacques finally make it to the trunk, sniff it, and start back for shore my husband started taking his socks and shoes off and taking things out of his pocket – he was getting ready to go in and get the little guy. (I don’t know if it was because of Jacques’ grunting and visual cues that he was getting tired or if it was my frantic banter, okay, shrieking that moved him to action. It could’ve been either one…) Just as my husband was about to get into the water, Jacques made it back to where he could touch bottom and dragged himself the rest of the way to shore. He was panting heavily but otherwise seemed unfazed. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to hug him or throw him back out in the lake. My husband gave me the “I told you he would be fine” look and seemed a little annoyed as he put himself back together. (Have I mentioned lately what a loving and patient husband I have?) Rocky was oblivious through it all and continued to sniff the grass and trees around the area. (I’m sure Rocky really cares about Jacques. Okay, I know all he really cares about are treats, food, B-O-N-E-Ses, and butt scratches, but I like to pretend he cares about other things.) After that “excitement,” we toweled everyone down and called it a day.

I decided that large bodies of water weren’t for us and went to the good old standby (and another one of Rocky’s favorite things) – the kiddie pool. Rocky used to run and cannonball into the pool, but in his older age, he’s a little more conservative about how he enters the pool. He trots, steps in, then falls over. It’s like a modified cannonball/cow tipping sort of thing. I wasn’t sure how it would work since Rocky literally takes up the entire pool, but that didn’t faze Jacques. He jumped right in with him then somehow managed to steal the pool from Rocky. It was quite the sight to see!

You can see that Rocky is less than happy about Jacques stealing the pool from him.

You can see that Rocky is less than happy about Jacques stealing the pool from him.

Who's afraid of the water? Not this guy!

Who’s afraid of the water? Not this guy!

A battle for control of the pool ensued. It was like “King of the Mountain,” but it was “King of the Pool.” Rocky finally won the battle, so to console Jacques, my husband turned on the water hose and annoyed, er, entertained Jacques by letting him chase (but never “catch”) a stream of water around the yard. Rocky had his pool. Jacques was being tormented. We were all happy.

Rocky saw an opening and made a dive for the pool... only he didn't quite make it all the way in.

Rocky saw an opening and made a dive for the pool… only he didn’t quite make it all the way in.

King of the pool!! (Notice how he almost fills the entire pool...)

King of the pool!! (Notice how he almost fills the entire pool…)

Jacques being tormented, er, entertained...

Jacques being tormented, er, entertained…

So, we learned that our dog that is part cat (and part leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day – something else we recently discovered), is definitely not afraid of the water. (Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) The biggest lesson for me was that if Jacques is going anywhere near a body of water larger than a bathtub or a kiddie pool, he’s going to have to wear a doggie life vest because we never know what this crazy dog is going to do (or go after) next!!

"Top o' the mornin' to ya!"

“Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!”