Making Progress (or… Tah Dah!!)

Niko, my late Shepherd, was a dog of many talents. Rocky wasn’t far behind – as long as a treat was involved. One of the “fan favorites” was a trick we called “bang! you’re dead.” Given the name of the trick, I’m sure you can guess what it entails, but just in case… I’ll describe it to you. I would point my finger at the boys and yell “bang! you’re dead!” Niko would respond with theatrics – groaning, dropping to the ground and flopping over on his side. Rocky’s version was more “bang, you’re mortally wounded” which involved him throwing his head down and slightly turning his shoulders while keeping an eye on the treat in my hand. I’m not sure if his response was because he was too big to flop over on his side or didn’t quite get the concept. Or maybe both. Either way, that trick was always amusing – especially for younger kids.

Since this has always been a favorite, I decided I would try it with Jacques. Why not – it only took a year to teach him to shake and to speak on command?!

The first attempt was sadly funny. I had a treat in my hand and was able to get him to lay down. After that, it went downhill and fast. Jacques went through his tiny repertoire of tricks as quickly as possible, throwing himself at me in the process. Sit. Lay down. Roll over. Lay down. Speak. High five. Lay down. At one point he was moving so erratically that I wondered if he was going into some sort of doggie trick induced seizure.

I was finally able to get him stop flailing long enough to start the process over. We went through the spazzing out routine a couple of times. He was so excited by and focused on the treat – it was like I was dangling filet mignon in front of him after starving him for a week. (Just by the way, this dog does not starve. And if he says he does, he’s full of it. Just look at his belly!) Finally… after trying to nibble on the finger I was pointing at him… he flopped on his side. I was so excited I screeched and starting chanting “Good boy! Good boy!” went sent him into Doggie NASCAR laps in the living room.

Once everybody calmed down, I tried it again to see if he could do it – and he did! Sort of. It was good enough for me. Anyway, we kept working on it and over the course of two days – yes, TWO days – he was able to get it down. I was so excited I videoed it because I knew no one would believe me. I sent it to my husband and Jacques’s Auntie Gina. Auntie Gina was shocked and couldn’t stop laughing. My husband’s response was “Great! Does he know the difference between ‘bang’ and ‘roll over’?” I said, “Well, he did on that take!”

So, I want everyone to see for themselves… The first video is the first take. The second video is Jacques’s showing the difference between “bang!” and “roll over” with an unintentional homage to Rocky.

I’m so proud of how far he’s come!! We’re definitely making progress!!


Near… Far…

A few months ago I had a moment with Jacques that reminded me of the video below. I remember seeing this as a child and laughing hysterically. It still makes me laugh. And seeing Jacques’s unintentional “version” of it… well, I laughed so hard I cried.

Jacques version:


Near or far, we hope everyone has a good rest of the week… we’re on the downhill slide to the weekend!

Are You Ready for Some Football??

I have been an avid (okay, fine… rabid) NFL fan for almost 20 years. And while I try to understand the rules and actually follow the game, I really just like to scream and yell at the TV. It makes me happy. (Except when my team is losing then it’s a very, very bad thing, but I digress.) Niko and Rocky were very young when I found my love (and subsequent hate) of football.  In an attempt to keep from scaring the hell out of them (and – I won’t lie – as a superstitious gesture), I would offer them treats for scores or really good plays. Before long, Niko and Rocky knew the difference between my hoots, hollers, screams, and yells and would either come running to reap the reward or go running to hide from the wrath. Or maybe they were running from the jerseys that I would occasionally make them wear. Whatever.

Niko eventually got to the point where he napped after our “pre-game warmup” (he knew I’d come find him to give his treat), but on game day, Rocky would always stay close by usually keeping an eye on the treats I had sitting out waiting for the next score or good defensive play. This football ritual with my boys was something I looked forward to every year. Every game day, there would be hoots and hollers and a round of pre-game high fives and good luck treats. It was just fun. It was something that I honestly enjoyed.

When Niko died, Rocky and I carried on the game day tradition as best we could, but our hearts just weren’t into it. Don’t get me wrong, Rocky would still take his treat, but he wouldn’t dance around, bark, and high five like he did before. We weren’t the team we once were.

And then came Jacques. The first football game we watched with Jacques… the poor guy. He just didn’t know what to think. I would jump up screaming and yelling like an insane person (who doesn’t love a good defensive play??!) causing him to bark incessantly and do NASCAR laps. He would stop occasionally to look at me as if to say, “Is it okay now??” Every clap, every jump up off the couch, every minor hoot from me would elicit a barking frenzy from Jacques. (Rocky, however, still only responded to the appropriate “touchdown” yell, the “interception” scream, or the “make that stupid quarterback eat dirt” holler.) I’ll admit – Jacques’ rookie season was rough, but you could tell by the end of the season that the dim little light bulb over his head was starting to go off. You could almost hear the “zzzit, zzziiit, zit” of it. My flailing and yelling would still elicit incessant barking on his part, but at least he would come to where the treats were and look at them then look expectantly at me as if he was starting to make the connection.

Jacques has a big jersey to fill. Literally.

Jacques has a big jersey to fill. Literally.

We’re entering our second season, and I have to give the boy credit. He didn’t forget anything during the offseason. In fact, it seems as though everything he learned during his rookie season has really sunk in. He still barks like crazy, but usually only during touchdown celebrations (and that’s TOTALLY appropriate!). He hasn’t picked up on the subtle nuances of my yells, but if he’s not in the room and hears me yell at the TV, he’ll come tearing through the house to get to me then plants himself in front of me waiting for his treat. Rocky has taken to parking himself by the box of treats. In fact, last week he tried to actually eat out of the box. I looked down and his head was shoved in the box. Funny boy!


“I’ll just keep an eye on these for you…”

Touchdown?? Interception??  You yelled. I get a treat, no?

Touchdown?? Interception?? You yelled. I get a treat, no?

Jacques didn't like the call on the field. Or Mommy's reaction to it.

Jacques didn’t like the call on the field. Or Mommy’s reaction to it.

Game day still feels a little different. There’s still a hint of sadness to it for me because I miss Niko so much, but Jacques is definitely doing his part to be a team player. He’s even got the pre-game barking and high fiving down! With every game he’s learning the ropes and with every game I’m learning that having this new furry teammate is a wonderful thing. So, yes. Yes, we are ready for some football!!

A little post-game snooze...

A little post-game snooze… because all that barking and treat eating is hard work!

Fun with Jacques

I have always loved tormenting, er, having fun with my dogs. It is something I have done, starting with my beloved shepherd, Niko. Occasionally this “fun” begins because I’m bored and in need of entertainment, but usually it happens in the moment. I’ll see a box/basket/whatever then will see one of my dogs and think “Wouldn’t it be funny if…”


Really it’s a win-win for everyone. I get a good laugh and the dogs get lots of treats and praises. Trust me, my dogs have no shame so they’re not humiliated doing this. They will do anything for a treat!! Jacques is a little different. He is a very proud dog, but like any dog, his stomach gets the better of him and he winds up letting me do what I want because he knows he’ll get lots of treats in return.

This blog is a brief pictorial of all the fun I’ve had tormenting Jacques thus far. I’ll admit, in the beginning he was a little hesitant, but now… he just goes along with it. I’m sure if dogs could roll their eyes, he would roll his so hard they’d pop out of his head. I hope you at least get a little chuckle out of my fun with Jacques.

This was one of those times where I walked by the empty box looked at Jacques then looked back at the box and thought “Wouldn’t it be funny if…” It’s a “Jacques in a box”!! (It took my husband some time to realize it was a play on “Jack in a box”…) I cackled for a long time about that one.


I occasionally like to dress my dogs up in clothes or costumes – not because I necessarily like dogs in clothes, but because I find it amusing. (With the exception of Jacques’ badass skull and cross bones jacket in the winter, I rarely leave clothes on them very long.)
fun_costumesOne day I was trying to do laundry and Jacques decided to help. (Okay, really he just kept getting in my way so I decided to amuse myself since he was there…)
fun_laundryAs a geographer, I like to use things for scale. In these two instances, Jacques was the closest thing handy… and again, I got a laugh out of it. (For the record, he doesn’t care for the gnome. They must have had a falling out or something.)

One day while I was trying to work, Jacques was going crazy with his toy cow and its EIGHTEEN squeakers. (I’m not exaggerating either. It literally has 18 squeakers. Yes, I’m a moron for buying it for him.) I finally put it out of his reach so that I could have some quiet. At the time I didn’t realize he was so OCD/ADD about his toys. This kept him quiet (and me amused) for quite some time. He looked so pitiful that I eventually gave in and gave him his cow back. He showed his appreciation by squeaking the dang thing non-stop for the next 10 minutes.
IMG_0493And finally… one day I decided it would be fun for him to get on the treadmill with me. After some coaxing and quite a few treats he hopped on with me. He was doing so well, I upped the speed a little. Apparently I upped it a little too much because he flew off the back of the treadmill. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, though I think his ego took a bit of a beating because he refuses to get back on the treadmill with me.

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…


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.


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.