Monday, December 21, 2009

An old dog learns a new trick

Life can be hard when you're a nearly-15-year-old dog. Winters are tough, even relatively mild California ones, and just getting around like you used to is a bit more challenging. Even at her advanced age, though, Daisy has remained remarkably sprightly and springy. Until about a month ago, that is, when she was trying to jump up onto the couch -- and missed. She fell, hard, and both of us sat on the floor afterward, shivering and crying a little.

So I have finally and officially entered the realm of Crazy Pet Owner with the purchase of this thing -- a pet ramp/step contraption. Yes, I realize that I am now actively enabling (with furniture, no less) one of the very behaviors I've spent most of the time I've had her trying to make her stop. But that spill she took was really nasty, and since she spends most of her time when I'm away at work sleeping on the couch, whether I want her to or not, it seemed like an almost reasonable purchase to keep her safe. Almost.

Of course, not unlike her owner, Daisy resists change. So the ramp/step contraption has spent the last two or so weeks here in the family room totally unused. I've tried to pick Daisy up and put her on it, lure her to it with baby talk and by crawling on it myself (shut up), but no dice -- she's eyed it warily and acted like it's some satanic device from outer space to be shunned and feared. No amount of coaxing on my part could change her very small mind.

Until I had a stroke of genius -- cheese! Or, more accurately, "cheese" since she's only ever eaten Velveeta. It's her third favorite thing in the world (her favorite being a tie between French fries and her SnuggleSafe fresh from the microwave), and food is one of the few things that can motivate her stubborn little self.

Here is the clearly menacing contraption with cheese on its three steps, just waiting to lure Daisy into its evil clutches.

And here's Daisy, almost literally as far as she can get away from it and still have me in her field of vision. I think she worried that I was so close to the wicked thing, but not so concerned as to jeopardize her own safety.

Eventually, she nervously, carefully crept toward the couch, the Velveeta's siren song working its magic.

And then, finally, she commits, snatching the cheese morsel off the bottom step.

Almost before I knew it, she was more than halfway up the steps, snarfing "cheese" as she went.

And then -- victory! On the couch, having used the steps to get there, Daisy was quite pleased with herself.

Of course, she immediately jumped down, waiting for me to produce more "cheese" to reward her again for her fearlessness.

Now, after this episode, she goes up and down the steps without a second thought. Like it's her J-O-B. Which, in a way, it sort of is.

And here's a picture of Boo. He didn't use the steps, but then again he never does anything he doesn't want to do.


Sharon said...

Congratulations, Daisy!

You're hilarious, Nora :-)

Christina said...

Awww... and ha! And don't worry. I always thought you had officially entered the world of Crazy Pet Owner back when you purchased SnuggleSafe for her... ;)

Coletta said...

It's not SO crazy (good job Daisy!)... I built my almost 15 year old cat, Sabrina, a wood step-stool about a year ago that goes halfway up to help her get on the bed. She apparently is more stubborn than a dog; treats would not even lure her on to it...she had to figure it out herself. Sabrina only started using it about a month or two ago when she decided it was not going to cause her bodily harm if she touched it. Now she is rather fond of it!