Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Farmer and the dogs

Over the years, the Farmer and I have had a number of interesting conversations about the dogs. Since Banner's arrival, these have not diminished.

Farmer: Why does Banner smell different than Phoenix?

Me: I don't know. What does Banner smell like?

Farmer: A dog.

Me (confused): And what does Phoenix smell like?

Farmer: Phoenix doesn't smell.

When I posted this on Facebook, it led to a spirited conversation among friends, the resulting conclusion of which (besides the fact we had all stopped what we were doing to go sniff our dogs) was individual dogs have their own scents and as their lifelong companions, we humans are able to detect these and differentiate between dogs, based on their particular smells.

And the Farmer was right. Phoenix doesn't smell. He is the most odor neutral dog I've ever lived with. Even the scent of shampoo or coat spray disappears within hours after a bath.

Banner, on the other hand, is very adept at finding substances to apply to his coat, which apparently retains every odor it has ever encountered.

***

And then there's training.

Farmer, to Banner: Sit.

Banner looks at him and wags his butt.

Farmer: Sit!

More wagging. No sitting.

While I know this drives some trainers insane, it doesn't really bother me. When I tell my dogs to sit, they sit. Since the Farmer doesn't show them and isn't likely to start any time soon, he can tell them to do whatever he wants and whether he follows through is totally up to him. I suspect the dogs know this and tend to yank his chain by acting blissfully oblivious.

But by the third "Sit!" I decided to intervene.

Me: He's not 100% reliable on a verbal. It helps to give a hand signal, too.

Farmer, raising his right hand: Sit.

No sit.

Me: Um . . . that's the "down" hand. Try it with your left hand.

Farmer, raising left hand: Sit!

Banner's butt hits the ground.

Farmer laughs, gives him a treat and says, "Huh. Didn't know he was left-handed."

***

Banner was sitting on the Farmer's lap one evening while we were watching TV.

Farmer: You sure are a pretty dog. You look just like Connor. Yep, you and Connor look exactly alike.

(Editor's note: Connor was my tricolor sheltie. He's been gone for 5 years.)

I gave him my best "Seriously?" look.

Farmer: Except your nose isn't as long.

More hairy eyeball.

Farmer: And your ears hang down.

Hairy eyeball combines with arched eyebrow.

Farmer: And you don't have a tail.

Hairy eyeball, arched eyebrows and stink-eye.

Farmer: Oh all right. You're black!

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