Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poor Charlie. Poor, Poor Charlie.

Ever see "The Land Before Time"? And I'm not talking about crappy "Land Before Time VII," or any ridiculous thing like that. I mean the REAL one. The ORIGINal one. Hey, original has origin in it.

Anyway, in "The Land Before Time," one of characters melodramatically utters, "Poor Petrie. Poor, poor Petrie" (Petrie is a pterodactyl that can't fly.)

I don't have a pterodactyl, or "The Land Before Time," although I do mysteriously have the ability to spell pterodactyl, and I think that's because of my brother's childhood love of All Things Dinosaur, which has led to the fact that my first impulse in a store when I see something dinosaur-y is to buy it for him for Christmas. Then I remember he's 23.

Anyway, I do have a dog. Two dogs. My husband and I have two dogs, we've had them since February. They came to us via a stork, or a cabbage patch. They always disguise cabbage patches as humane societies.

Now Daisy is extremely intelligent: half beagle, half cocker spaniel, she's beautiful. She's also, in the family, the "kid" who's always into things, mischievous, curious, and in trouble, because she's so intelligent. She's also extremely pushy, kind of like Miss Piggy. My brother gives me ironic looks when I lament the self-entitlement Daisy seems to have. I don't know what he could possibly be implying.

Daisy came to us from a family who started having kids and decided she was too much to handle; so they gave her to a humane society that took...less than stellar care of its inmates. She was muddy, dirty, and did not have the lack of worms they claimed. She was also charming, outgoing, and a perfect girl dog for me.

But then we come to Charlie. Charlie is the dachshund that John wanted. Only he's a coon hound. After weeks of talking about how funny Dachshund's wormy little bodies are, after hours of scanning Dachshund rescues in Kentucky, and checking for Dachshunds on, which lists the animals in your area shelters...he became entranced with a coon hound.

A sweet, lovable, coon hound.

For the record, coon hounds are bigger than Dachshunds. He went to visit him at a shelter and came back with him the same day.

Poor Charlie. Poor, poor Charlie. I don't think Charlie had ever lived with people before. He's bigger than Daisy, but much more shy and retreating. When we brought Charlie home, he wouldn't leave his blanket for about four days. What people he had been around hadn't treated him well: he flinched, shied, and ducked. John finally picked him up and carried him around the apartment so Charlie would know he was welcome to, you know, get up and walk around.

It took him several days, but eventually he felt safe enough to leave his blanket.

Then we brought Daisy home, and un-neutered Charlie wasn't shy anymore. My brother still does impressions of my squawking. "JOHN, JOHN, STOP him JOHN, CHARLIE, NO! NO!" And so on.

But around people, Charlie is still shy. The dogs are best friends now, more like brother and sister than anything.

We've noticed something, though.

Charlie is kind of dumb.

Now, I still insist that he's not dumb, he's sweet. I also insist that it's more a language barrier, a sociological barrier than anything: he simply hasn't known how to live with people. Take words, for instance. Daisy picks up on words and their meanings as they relate to her quite quickly. She adjusts to routines, recognizes signals, so on.

Charlie is our foreign exchange student. Blank looks, querying expressions, goodwill, but oblivious to social customs and norms. He's sweet, he loves us, he loves to snuggle (I don't know if that's typical of all foreign exchange students), but he often has this frustrated expression that says "I can't make them understand me."

Which is why I'm so proud of him.

Because today - November 23rd - 10 months after bringing him home - he finally told me he had to go potty outside.

*Insert Ticker Tape Parade*

Usually, he waits for Daisy, the Type A of the two, to take the lead and tell us. She barks, she howls, she scampers to the back door. We sigh. We bundle up. We take her out. (They can't be trusted by themselves.)

Or, he sneaks into the corner and you hear a suspicious stream of something. You know, like with two year olds.

But today? He stared, intently. He barked. When I said, "potty," he scampered to the back door.

Ten months later, he's starting to get it.

Now, he does know how to sit for treats: John drilled that into him. And he knows "house" means his kennel, not a TV show on Fox. He pretends not to know NO, but he really does.

And he finally cued me that he had to go outside.

Now, progress with Charlie is spotty: it usually stops and starts, like a college student's beat up old car, spluttering, until it finally picks up momentum.

But today is a good day for Charlie.


Carrie said...

YAY (throws ticker tape)! I appreciated your analogy of the foreign exchange student. I'm fortunate that Sprite goes potty, but she got the short end of the stick when it comes to spatial reasoning.

I'm pretty sure she's not blind--she spots squirrels that cannot be seen by the naked eye (which brings to mind the possibility that she lives in a perpetual hallucination--interesting concept)--but she runs into things: walls, doors, people, the cat, furniture, etc.

In short, she's dumb. She and Charlie would get along famously; except they'd need a translator. I'm sure they don't speak the same language.

The cat, on the other hand?? It's pretty sad when a cat has a higher IQ than the entire household.

Bob said...

Hip Hip Hooray for Charlie. Moxie is currently living with his Uncle Ryan, in hopes that he will learn what he can and can't do in the house. It seems he knows what he should do outside, he just doesn't want to. One day he just didn't want to go out in the cold air. I couldn't blame him, but he had the opportunity and then pooped in the warm house. It's a matter of will. And if Uncle Rynie doesn't get him straightened out, then Moxie will have to leave. Our plans on getting the house ready for sale cannot be torpedoed by, well, Moxie's little torpedoes.