More Talk About the Trixter

Well, here I am again, wanting to talk about Trixie. I forgot a few things in my last post, and then, more stuff needed mentioning. I have so much Trixie goodness that I’ve started making lists so I don’t forget stuff. I really hope these aren’t boring to people. Sometimes I wonder if people groan when they see one of these. But so far, no one has groaned in the comments section, so I guess this is a good sign. Allrighty, off we go. Justa little warning. This one’s suuuuuper long!

I think Trixie really enjoys going to the drugstore down the street for one reason and one reason only. She can open the door! It’s one of those automatic doors that you step on a mat and trigger it and the doors slide open. Well, every time we go past it, she makes a special effort to trigger that door. Ah, the little things that make a dog happy.

She has also figured out how long the elevator doors will stay open, and based on that, whether we should gun it, or slow down when getting close to them. I think she was a gambler in a previous life, because she tries to guess which elevator is going to open, and turns us that way. Sometimes she’s right, sometimes she’s wrong, but she definitely takes a guess.

She is such a curious, observant dog. If she were human, she’d be that neighbour who always knew when you came home, when you left for work, and on what days you went over to other neighbour Bob’s house for a visit. She’s always watching everything around her. Even when I first met her, she was so busy staring out in the hall that I was a little worried that she didn’t care about me. Nope. She just has to have her eye on everything all the time. Sometimes, I wonder if she ever truly sleeps, because it doesn’t take long for her to wake up and snap into action.

One of those things that makes her wake up and run to the window is a siren. I think the only other sound that can bring her over to the window is a dog that’s barking strangely. Her reaction to Sirens is the funniest, though. It’s like she’s saying, “ooo! An accident! I gotta see, I gotta see! Come on, I can’t miss any action! Lemmy see!”

Remember how I said she figured out our buzzer? Well here’s something else she figured out. She’s learned that the cuckoo sound the light at the corner makes means we go. Luckily, she just sorta gets ready, but doesn’t bolt out, and still waits for me to say “forward,” just in case I’m at a light where we’re crossing with the chirp instead of the cuckoo. But she’s figured out that sound means we usually start going, and she knows to book it across that street like there’s no tomorrow.

You know how I was raving about how flawless her work is? Well, it’s taken a bit of a down-turn lately. Not a huge one, I just think I’m entering a new phase of testing. This one’s more sneaky. She likes to wait until my hands are full, and then go for everything she can. The most embarrassing incident was when I went to vote last week. The workers at the polling station were all eating turkey dinner, which Trixie was being really good about not going for…until I reached for my ID! Then she gave it a shot! Luckily, someone was quick to warn me, so I could stop her, but that little devil! Tricky, smart little devil! Ah Trixie, if you think you’re learning, I’m learning how to counter. Next time I have to reach for something and there are tempting items at nose level, guess who’s going to lie down? Ha ha, I win. Let’s just hope there aren’t more tempting items on the floor.

Another trick she likes to pull is when we’re out relieving. She’ll walk around looking for her perfect spot, leading me around a couple of poles on the grass. As she’s doing that, she’ll go really wide and end up on the grass that’s further in on the sidewalk! No! That’s not all for you! She’ll do it all subtle and stuff, just sort of edge over…until I’m telling her no.

While we’re out there, her curiosity gets the best of her sometimes, and she will freeze and look at someone coming down the sidewalk. She will just fixate on them, until I either get her to sit until they walk by, or remind her why she’s out there.

While in the house, she’s getting sneaky too. If she’s about to lick some part of the floor hoping to find food, if we catch her at it, she will run to us and wag her tail as if to say, “Who, me? Lick the floor? Innocent little waggly me? What would ever make you think I would do such a horrible thing as to lick the floor?” Oh, I don’t know, Trixie, maybe some past history.

I always knew Trixie was smart, but there are some things she does that just solidify it for me. One time, there was a truck blocking a whole bunch of the parking lot. Trixie looked at it, surveyed the area, thought for a second, then dragged me up onto the grass until we passed the truck and then went back to the parking lot. How cool is that?

Then there are the not so cool moments when you realize how smart she is. I think she’s starting to not like the vet so much. The other day, she pointed out the parking lot. But as we crossed it, she decided she was going to make it hard for me. Instead of intuitively knowing how to go around the cars to the door I wanted, she decided to take me straight as an arrow to a wall and then I had to tell her to make all the little turns to get to the door. She was going to make it as hard as possible to get in there. Note to self, must remember to give more kibble at the vet door.

This weekend was cool. Trix and I went home to mom and dad’s for Thanksgiving. Trixie got to ride in my brother’s funky jeep! I think she enjoyed the trip. Everybody loves her…everyone but the cat. Ah, the poor old, cranky, almost xenophobic cat. She does not like new people, and she likes new canines even less. I tried to introduce them, and the cat thought a fine introduction would be a nice, healthy, hissssss! So, the poor cat spent the weekend in hiding. I think she was happy to see the dog go.

The dog enjoyed herself quite a bit, and I was so happy that she didn’t get in any trouble. One night, Trix even put herself to bed! That’s when you know you have a cool dog.

Remember how I said that because of Trixie, I remember all the kids’ names in the building? Well, now I’m starting to remember the names of dogs in the building, and whether they like or don’t like Trixie. There’s Oliver, who loves everyone, and Trixie would love to come meet him. There’s Jacks, who I wish would hurry up and grow up, because he runs in front of my feet and he’s so small that I’m afraid I’d crush him. There’s Precious the pug who doesn’t really care about Trixie. There’s Daisy who does not like Trixie. There’s Teddie the confrontational lab puppy. There’s Mable the dog that someone called a pit bull and then said, “Er, sorry. English Bulldog!” Um, that’s a big difference. There’s Morgan the schitzu who knows how to wrap my legs up in his leash. Then there are the ones I know by their bark but not by name. There’s one who likes to bark at us when we go play, whose bark sounds like some kind of robot. There’s one whose growl sounds like a cross between a pull toy and Winnie the Pooh’s stomach growling. Yep, that’s an odd description, but it’s an odd growl. God, I could go on and on. The point is I couldn’t identify a single dog in this building before, and now I know a bunch of their names!

Remember how I also said that people say Trixie’s name before mine? Well, here’s a new spin on it. I was on the bus when at one point, the bus driver said, “Hey! Trixie’s owner! What stop do you want?” After telling her, I laughed and told her my name. She said she felt guilty, but wanted to ask me before the stop went by, and couldn’t think of my name for the life of her.

In that post, I also mentioned people’s extreme attitudes on corrections. Well, I’m finding the same thing goes with her work. Some people are absolutely astonished that she knows to stop at steps, or can follow them. This seems impossibly good. Um, that’s what she’s for. If she was just a dog and wasn’t trained to do those things, well, I’d be a human projectile and that wouldn’t be good. But if she does one bad thing, the reaction is “I thought they weren’t supposed to do that.” You’re right, they aren’t *supposed* to do that, but they are dogs, and they will try. Can’t we meet in the middle somewhere?

Then there are the people who, no matter how many times you explain to them how much training, including obedience, and temperament-testing goes into finding guide dogs, think they can go out and buy a puppy and it will end up being “a Trixie.” My neighbour keeps saying “I want a Trixie!” To that, I say, are you ready to do a whole hell of a lot of training? “No, I can’t do that,” she says. Well, your dog won’t be a Trixie. She seems to think I’ve done all the work. Oh no. No no no no no. It started long, long, long long long long long, before they even knew the two of us were to meet. I’m just trying to keep up all of their hard work. And then there’s the issue of whether the puppy she went to get from the store was the right temperament. god, how many dogs are dropped from the program because they just won’t do certain things? A whole ton! So, it’s not easy to get a Trixie. I’m lucky to have her.

And I think that’s about it for another edition of Trixie updates. I’m sure I’ll be back sooner rather than later with more. That just seems to be the way things go.

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