ANN BAILEY: Food-swiping dog still misbehavingMaggie, my family’s wayward yellow Lab, soon will turn five, which is roughly 35 in human years. That’s not far from middle-age for both people and large dogs, and in my experience both have started “settling down” by that time. Most of the dogs I’ve met have out-grown their puppy ways and the people are responsible citizens.
By: Ann Bailey, Grand Forks Herald
Maggie, my family’s wayward yellow Lab, soon will turn five, which is roughly 35 in human years.
That’s not far from middle-age for both people and large dogs, and in my experience both have started “settling down” by that time. Most of the dogs I’ve met have out-grown their puppy ways and the people are responsible citizens.
Maggie doesn’t fit the mold. At almost 5, she still is as misbehaved as she was when we got her four years ago. Her behavior is not the way it is because we don’t care or haven’t tried to modify it. She’s simply a naughty dog who will get away with whatever she can.
Despite the fact that we put her in her kennel every time she grabs something off of the counter, for example, several times a day, Maggie still puts her front paws up on it to see if there’s food on it. We try to thwart that by putting food items that aren’t refrigerated, such as bread and bananas, on top of the fridge. But if one of us forgets, Maggie nabs it. She not only can snatch what’s at the edge of the counter, either. She’s learned to pull stuff from the back of the counter to the front, with her paw.
Maggie is especially adept at waiting until our backs are turned to grab a snack. I’ve learned, for example, that it’s not a good idea to put a cookie on the counter, and go to the refrigerator and get a glass of milk. The chance of having a cookie to dunk in the milk upon my return a few seconds later is nil.
When we discipline Maggie by kenneling her, she may look contrite, but looks are deceiving. While she’s curled up in the corner appearing to be sleeping, she apparently has one eye open and is watching every move we make to see if food is involved. If it is, as soon as she’s released from the kennel, she makes a mad dash to the counter to see if we’ve forgotten to put away something.
Appetite for anything
Maggie is no less voracious about eating when she is outside, no matter the ill-effects they have on her stomach. She loves late summer when she can steal cucumbers, cantaloupe and watermelon from the garden. Fall is great for her, too, because there are fallen apples, crabapples and plums to devour. She also has an appetite for grass, which, as any dog owner knows, does not digest well.
Horse feed is an even better delicacy for Maggie. Zammie and Isabelle don’t allow her to dine with them, but Freda is more cordial and if whoever is feeding doesn’t stand guard by Freda, Maggie will wipe out her food faster than I can say “Scram, Maggie.” I’ve learned that leaving my post because Maggie is nowhere in sight is risky because if I go outside the back door, she will sneak in the front and I come back to an empty pan and a disappointed-looking horse.
While stealing food is Maggie’s main downfall, another one that’s nearly as irritating is her inability to understand that skunks will spray if she bothers them. Either she can’t understand the concept that chasing skunks results in being sprayed or she likes the scent they leave behind. Because my family and I don’t, Maggie spent a lot of time in the outdoor kennel this summer.
Despite the fact that she can make me madder than any animal I’ve ever owned, I still like Maggie. She loves every member of her family and will play Frisbee and hide-and-seek for hours with our children and would run, seemingly, forever with my husband, Brian. She tolerates rough play by Rosebud, our golden retriever, who bites her ears, and doesn’t retaliate.
Don’t think for a minute, though, I get lulled into complacency when I look into Maggie’s big, brown, doleful eyes when I’m eating my morning cereal. While I’m petting her with one hand, my other is firmly holding my bowl of cereal.