When I first came to live with my two-leggers, it was a real education for me. I went from the puppy who’d never seen grass before to wilderness explorer in a matter of days. Elizabeth kept a pretty close eye on me and, because I was a bit overwhelmed by it all, I stuck pretty close to her. For the most part, the arrangement worked pretty well.
Most puppies go to obedience school – well, I did too. But I learned my first ‘command’ one day on one of our hikes. We were on The Point, and I got really curious about the splashy wet stuff that was all around us. It was late autumn, and I hadn’t learned about splashy wet stuff and how to behave in it yet. Elizabeth thought it was too cold to learn just then. But I was curious. It smelled good. It tasted good – refreshing after a long hike. But it was challenging to reach from the rocky shoreline. I kept stretching for it, though, and stretching, and stretching … and I fell in.
It was a shocking experience, let me tell you! It was cold. And it made my wool really heavy (I hadn’t grown my guard hairs yet, which help to keep my wool dry). My feet didn’t seem to work in it and I kept sinking. I was pretty frightened, even though Elizabeth was right there. She was able to grab my collar and pull me out. For a moment it felt like I was flying, and then I felt hard ground under my paws again.
Elizabeth was laughing at me. I was just standing there, dripping wet. I was shivering already with the cold and shock. I didn’t know what to do.
That’s when Elizabeth taught me my first command. It wasn’t SIT. It wasn’t DOWN. It wasn’t STAY.
“SHAKE, Stella,” she said.
I had no idea what she meant. I just looked at her while water streamed off my tail tip, back into the river.
Elizabeth laughed again. “Stella, you really look like a wet rat.” My wool makes me look a lot bigger than I am when it’s dry and fluffy like it should be.
I hung my head and dripped some more.
“Stella, look at me.”
I did. And Elizabeth started to twist her head and body so that her hair flew around and her clothes lifted into the air. “SHAKE!” she said again.
So, I tried what she was doing. It worked! Water started to spray in all directions from my body and my wool seemed a bit lighter.
We walked home and I learned another command when we arrived at the door. Elizabeth grabbed a big towel (even then I needed a big towel…). She wrapped it over my back and around my belly and began pulling first on one side, then on the other, back and forth, really fast. It felt delightful – I could sense the water leaving my wool and going into the towel. “RUBBY DUBBY!” To this day, RUBBY DUBBY is one of my favourite commands.
Now, you’d think that these two commands would have limited applications in a place where splashy wet stuff isn’t a year-round sort of thing. But you’d be wrong.
Yesterday, we were hit by something the weatherman calls a Colorado Low. This time of year, that’s a huge blizzard system that dumps a whole lot of fluffy white stuff on us. Elizabeth says this one should last into tomorrow and may give us from 30-50cm more snow.
I don’t like precipitation of any kind while it’s coming down, but I do have to go out in it sometimes like it or not. And fluffy white stuff turns into splashy wet stuff when I bring it into the house. So, when she calls me to come in, and I get to the door, Elizabeth says, “Stella, SHAKE!” And when I come in, I have a good RUBBY DUBBY session, too.