Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Gator Girl Turns Five

The Roly Poly Gator Girl at five weeks of age

So today is the Gator Girl's fifth birthday. To celebrate the dogs' birthdays, we go out to Burger King and get a cheeseburger. It's a little difficult, I think, for the dogs to understand that today is different from other days because they tend to get a cheeseburger on Sundays too.

Yes, my dogs are a little spoiled. I am aware of that.

Anyway, so it was five years ago today that the Gator Girl was born. Joe and I had made the decision to get a Belgian Malinois because Carl's Malinois, Cosette, was absolutely a perfect vision of a dog. So sweet, so well behaved, she was everything we wanted in a dog (not to suggest that Big is not sweet and well behaved. He is. Especially when his Mimi's around.). Carl assured us, and continues to do so, that the Gator Girl would grow to be just like Cosette.

Carl may have over stated things a little.

Appearance wise, the Gator Girl strongly resembles Cosette. They really could be twins. On more than on occasion, I do a double take in class wondering how the Gator Girl got to Carl's side when she was supposed to be sitting at my side. Carl's done the same. Once, Carl and I switched dogs, trying to see if we could trip up Joe with a little switcharoo but it didn't work out. Why? Because the Gator Girl, all of a sudden, possessed the ability to sit still.

The Gator Girl on the day we brought her home

We have a sunken living room with two steps leading to either the hallway or the dining room. When we brought Big home, we were able to use the living room as a playpen because, for a while, Big was unable to figure out the stairs. It's not uncommon for puppies to have trouble navigating the stairs. So when we brought the Gator Girl home at eight weeks of age, we were operating under the assumption that we would be able to use the living room as a playpen again. But whereas it took Big a couple of months to feel fully confident on the stairs, it took the Gator Girl a couple of hours.

She's always been very quick on the uptake. Once, I put her in the back of my wagon on a trip to the post office, a mile away from the house. By the time we got to our destination, she was sitting in the passenger's seat, having managed to wriggle her way between the dog gate and the back seat, over her brother and console so she could take her place as my co-pilot. She's never looked back since.

Dog is indeed my co-pilot.

She's also a cookie thief. I know many of you have heard of the Gator Girl's cookie stealing exploits but I beg an indulgence as I relate the tales in honor of this special day. When we brought her home, we had no idea just what a little criminal genius we were taking in.

There's a cupboard in our kitchen where we keep the dog cookies and cat food. The Gator Girl, ever food obsessed, worked out a way to steal the cookies and avoid being caught except for one fateful afternoon when Joe happened to walk in on her right when she least expected him to. She would open the cupboard door and open the cookie box. She'd remove a select number of cookies and make a little pile of them on the floor. When she had all she wanted, she would close the box. Yep, that's right close the damn box by flattening the flaps with her paw so that at a quick glance, one would never notice it had been opened. Then she would close the cupboard door and enjoy her not so little smorgasbord.

When we caught on to what she was doing, we set a trap. And by 'we', I do mean Joe. Joe set a trap. The Gator Girl is sensitive to noise and so he propped a cookie sheet up against the cupboard door so that it would fall onto her and eventually the floor if she opened the door. It was good in theory but in actuality, the only one ever caught by the trap was me. Yeah, I know. Even after I wrote myself a note saying "TRAP!!!" and stuck it to the cupboard door, I still managed to set off the trap.

Three months old

But not the Gator Girl. No, she managed to work around the trap. She'd open the door just enough to nudge the cookie sheet over so that it was propped up by the cupboard's lip and then make a break for the cookies. I know this to be true because I watched her do it one day. Carl says we really need to film her doing this. I never seem to have the presence of mind to get my camera out though.

She broke into my glove compartment one evening. I had been down visiting the family and we had all gone out to Friendly's for dinner. Big and the Gator Girl waited in the car. I had put a treat bag filled with cookies in the glove compartment to keep it safe from the Gator Girl while I was inside. Cookies are an essential part to a successful car ride because the Gator Girl (and I'll talk more about this in a moment) likes to attack things. A lot of things.

So while I was in Friendly's, the Gator Girl managed to break into the glove compartment and remove the treat bag. She shredded it and ate all the tasty goodies inside. Then she put the remnants of the bag back inside the glove compartment and closed it. I didn't even know anything had happened to it until the next day when I went "Oh! I forgot to grab the treat bag out of the car!"

Those are the times when Big looks at me as if saying "Don't ask me. I never asked for a baby sister."

And what a baby sister she is. She's food obsessed, ball obsessed, and a downright bitch in every sense of the word. She tags Big for smallest infractions and spends almost every minute in the car searching for a target. Semis, school buses, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, baby strollers, other dogs, mailboxes, bridges (yes, seriously), name it, it freaks her right the hell out when we're in the car. In the home, she attacks the dishwasher (ask my mother...she's witnessed it and learned to neither open nor close the dishwasher when the Gator Girl is in residence) and oven door. She'll go after the pots and pans when you take the out of their cupboard. She used to be afraid of the vacuum but screwed up her courage enough to start blinding attacking it and since she comes from a line of hard hitting working dogs, she can hit a lot harder than her sixty pound petite frame would suggest.

She's a jumper. Not on people so much, not without an invite, but MAN, can that dog jump. She excels at obedience (although I understand how the previous paragraph may make you wonder about the validity of that claim) and agility. She's also an excellent tracker. She's a neurotic never ending tan blur of anxiety and energy.

This makes her a perfect jogging dog. I've been running a lot lately and she runs with me. We run around the neighborhood and when the weather is less than cooperative, we run around the house. She always runs in a perfect heel position, even when there's no leash involved. Especially when there's no leash involved even. Just one of her may quirks.

And she loves her people. She loves to sit on the couch with me in the evenings and cuddle. She loves to get in bed with me in the mornings after Joe's gotten up. When she lays down in the car on our way home after a long day, she'll lay her head in my lap. She was supposed to be daddy's girl because Big is such a momma's boy, but it didn't work out so well. Maybe the next dog, Joe...

So here's to the Gator Girl's first five oh so colorful years. Can't wait to see what the next five will bring...even if it scares the hell out of me.

The Gator Girl today

I'd also like to make a shout out to the Gator Girl's newest and biggest PIC, Brewster the Bruiser who is also celebrating a birthday today. If you haven't read about the Gator Girl and Brewster's exploits together, then you are really missing out. My couch hasn't been the same since but boy, you should have seen Heather's face when she saw the barricade I built around it. Anyway, Happy First Birthday, Bru!!

The Birthday Bernard