Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mom's Little Helper

Aren't dogs amazing? The personalities are as varied as the human population. Portuguese Water Dogs were bred to work on fishing boats and in the water. When they were in dock, they were to stay aboard and guard the boat. During the winter when the boats didn't go out to sea, they often acted as shepherds for  flocks of sheep. They needed lots of different talents to be a well rounded Portie. Many of these talents have shown up in my dogs. I didn't teach them these things so I guess centuries of breeding are there in the genes.
Most, but not all my dogs love the water.  Sky and Bailey have no interest in water and stay as far from it as possible. They would stick their heads in water to grab a treat such as a hot dog or piece of apple, but they don't want to swim. That's OK. Lola was slow to become interested in water but last year was jumping into the wading pool along with the others. Tess, Fudge and Noah all like the water but Samba and Norma Jean and Gracie are obsessed with water. We need to hang on to all three in the boat. They'd be happy to jump off and swim to our destination. Norma Jean cannot resist putting her feet in the water bowl whenever she passes it. This means we have to refill the water bowl many times and  do some mopping up on a frequent basis.
Samba had a great nose. I learned to never leave a treat in a jacket pocket. She would sniff it as she walked by, pull the jacket down and work tirelessly at getting the treat out of the pocket. Happily, she never chewed thru the jacket to get her reward. Her daughter, Bailey has inherited her mother's nose. She loves following trails and usually has her nose to the ground tracking whatever creatures may have been in the yard. If I was more motivated I'd get her into a nosework class. I think she'd love it. She also has another talent that has been very helpful to me. She can find almost anything we happen to lose in the yard. This includes dog tags, Syd's collar, parts from the mower and recently, a piece of my windchime that came apart in the bad weather. Sometimes she finds them as she's checking out the yard and other times I'll tell her to 'go find' and she does.
Another talent that has been useful is Norma Jean's herding instinct. You first must understand Norma jean. She lives to help. She absolutely adores me and wants to do anything that will help me. This began as soon as she was born. Even with eyes and ears still closed, she would sniff my presence and come crawling toward me. Once the eyes opened, she was always watching me. She still does. If she senses that I need something, she will try her best to help me.
Sometimes at our last call at night, a couple of the dogs may not want to come in. They may find something interesting at the bottom of the hill and not come when I call. Norma Jean always comes when I call her, though I don't usually have to call. As soon as I open the door, she comes racing to me with her back end wiggling. I don't go down the hill at night unless it's an emergency so I have to keep calling to get my stragglers in.
One night a couple years ago, Norma Jean was waiting inside the garage as I called Tess. Tess didn't  come and I was getting frustrated. Suddenly Norma Jean burst out the garage door and stood looking around. She spotted Tess and took off toward her.  As Tess continued to ignore us, Norma Jean crashed into her, sending her flying. Then she got behind Tess and herded her up the hill to me. When they got to me, Norma Jean was so pleased that she couldn't stand still. She danced all around the garage.
A few nights later, the scene was repeated with Lola. Norma Jean knows the names of each of her siblings and will go after whichever dog I tell her to get. It always works and now after being hit broadside by the rather solid Norma Jean, the others see her coming and decide it's time to come in.
Over the last few weeks with the weather being bad, the dogs haven't spent as much time outside as they would like and everyone is a little restless. Tempers can flare under those circumstances, even with humans. I've noticed that Norma Jean is getting a little too bossy. She's pushing her sisters around when she thinks they need to do whatever she thinks they should be doing. The others are starting to resent Norma Jean pushing them around and are snapping back at times. Nothing serious is happening, just some sisters saying, "leave me alone."  Still, I think it's time to find Norma Jean a new job that she can take pride in, that doesn't involve telling anyone else what to do.
This is going to take a bit of thought and creativity, but I know she'll be more than happy with whatever I decide on. Norma Jean is the happiest dog I've ever met and she makes everyone around her happy, too.


rottrover said...

I love learning more about Norma Jean!

Bella Roxy & Macdui said...

Norma Jean and our Daisy seem to be cut from the same cloth.....just different patterns.

Though Bella, Roxy and Dui have taken up some of Daisy's traits, I still miss Daisy.

Foley Monster and Pocket said...

You have such an interesting pack and you know them so well. Of course that is the way it is with best friends.

Taffy said...

She is such a sweet girl! She is only trying to make her momma happy!

Mitch and Molly said...

What a sweet helpful girl you are, Norma Jean!

Love ya lots♥
Mitch and Molly

Nichole Burke said...

Looking forward to hearing about Norman Jean's new "job" -- I know she'll be great at whatever you decide! :)

Marjie said...

I love Norma Jean's baby picture! She was so tiny.