Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sheltie Snobs

Any one who has Shelties will tell you how snobby they are. Well...most Shelties. Well...most FEMALE Shelties. Males tend to be a lot more playful and friendly with other dogs. Females...females wonder why they are forced to tolerate "lower beings" (i.e. "non-shelties"). Well my girls are snobbier than most. My girls not only take the cake, but they baked and iced it too. They have always just looked in complete disdain at other dogs. Especially retrievers. Oh, and terriers. Anyone who accidentally finds themselves in the my girls paths, actually. Its not that they HATE other dogs...I mean, they never start trouble. They don't walk into a group of dogs like a chihuahua with a napoleon-complex thinking "Hmm...I bet I can kick ALL of yo' butts. BLINDFOLDED!" They just walk into a group with a very specific mission; and that mission ain't about playing with no dogs! Heidi's mission happens to be to seek and destroy every toy that she can lay her teeth on. She first and foremost will always look for the balls. And once they are eliminated, she will quickly turn her attention to tug-ropes, frisbee's and stuffies. And when the poor, unsuspecting yellow lab puppy unceremoniously sticks its entire HEAD in Heidi's bum for a good long sniff, she has to turn around and school him.

And woe to the puppy who even ATTEMPTS that with Shelby. They usually are only able to get to Heidi's bum because she is distracted by something (something=TOY). Shelby on the other hand, walks in with her "mean-teeth" bared saying "BACK OFF" and then proceeds to find the emptiest corner, or a vacant chair. She then plants her but FIRMLY on the ground, and continues to bare her "mean-teeth" for anyone who apparently missed the message the first time around. If, however, that second message doesn't make it through the thick skulls of some dogs, then she has to "make them understand." Like the dogs who sniffed Heidi, they also get handled. LOUDLY. Shelties have this way of making this screaming bark-like sound that is the equivalent of a bag of angry cats being swung up against a wall. You can clearly tell that they're screaming "WTFBACKTFOFFBEFOREIKILLYOU!" (Or, sometimes in Heidi's case it's: "DONTTOUCHMYBALLYOUJERKORIKILLYOU!")

Now, there re exceptions to these delicate rules of Sheltie-engagement. Exceptions are made for:
1. Other Shelties
a. have to be of the same/or similar color
b. have to also understand the rules of Sheltie-engagement; no matter how handsome the stud is, we DO NOT allow long Sheltie noses to be stuck THAT FAR up our fluffy-bums!
2. Appropriate herding dogs (same rules as above)
a. we do not tolerate screaming corgi's
b. we do not tolerate Aussies who bark louder than we do
c. We do not tolerate BC's who think that they are smarter than we are
As you can see, there tends to be very few dogs indeed that my girls will actually acknowledge enough of their existence to actually take the time and socialize with. So why, WHY you ask did I take them to play group today??
I took them to a friend's playgroup for dogs today, because:
1. I have been home from the hospital for over 1 week and they are DRIVING ME CRAZY
a. the playgroup serves exercise purposes, and also a little bit of a threat: "If you don't stop that RIGHT NOW, I'm going to take you to playgroup again!!"
2. I get an ego boost
a. I enjoy being around people with dogs who (although it doesn't seem possible) bark louder and more often than the Shelties
b. I enjoy seeing other dogs who are more ball obsessed than my Heidi
c. I enjoy watching my 19 lb. Shelby take down dogs 4 times her size...and then watching them avoiding her with the expression that clearly reads: "Don't look at the Sheltie, DON'T look at the Sheltie..."
3. I can throw various toys and not get yelled at for it
a. I do not break anything that would cause the yelling.

I do enjoy the playgroups. I used to run two myself, when I worked at the training center. I enjoy watching dogs make friends, and how puppies learn new lessons from the older dogs in the group. The Shelties, I think, do enjoy it a little too. Heidi enjoys getting to chase her ball/frisbee indoors, and she gets to enjoy chasing the longer legged Aussie that steals her ball/frisbee because she is too slow.
And Shelby gets to boss dogs, other than her sister, around. When she is finally done giving her mean-teeth to all of the dogs that enter/exit the group, she will start to patrol the perimeter. Once she sees someone start to break away with the "zoomies", the chase is on! The "Fun-Police" charges out into the middle of the group, and herds the offending dog until thy stop zooming around and causing a disturbance. Usually, they just get off with a verbal warning, but sometimes the "mean-teeth" make a reappearance and the dog needs to be pulled over, and brought down. With the suspect now under control, play resumes and Shelby goes back to sitting under my chair.

I don't mind that my dogs are snobbier beyond belief. In fact, reading a lot of our new favorite blogs has shown me that A LOT of herding dog people have "snobby" dogs. Our dogs aren't necessarily anti-social because they are aggressive (I say aren't "necessarily" because ther are, of course, dogs who are dog aggressive) but as they are herding dogs, they like their SPACE. They do not enjoy some crazy lab running up and physically accosting them. (Especially Shelties because they can be quite a bit smaller than their herding cousins. Corgis are usually OK because hell, if they can avoid kicks by cattle, they can avoid an obnoxious retriever!) Our herding dogs are also usually very VERY focused on exactly what THEY want to do: usually chasing a ball or frisbee. They just don't have TIME for all of that silly wrestling mumbo jumbo.

But don't get me wrong; our herders can be EXTREMELY energetic players when they want to be. My girls can race around my back yard with the "tag-zoomies" until they almost pass out in the grass. But that's because they love each other. Or want to kill each other. Sometimes I cant tell which.

So, in conclusion, although I love my dogs, I am a bit of a sadist. I just cant help it. When you live with Jedi that can manipulate every aspect of your life, you have to gain back a little of the control. But I have to stop writing now because I can sense how both girls just woke up down stairs, and are now hungry. That's understandable. It was a very rough play-day.