Miss Stella has been known to want to carry things. If we are hanging out in the backyard, she usually has something. Most often it is a volleyball or if we are trying to play fetch, so that both pups have a toy to get, the loud squeaky ball we take with us to have two toys, one for each pup. It is not just hanging out in the yard though as Miss Stella has also been known to carry a water bottle on her walks. Not in a pouch or saddle bag, but in her mouth. We began to see this characteristic as maybe one of her ‘working’ traits shining through. Miss Stella needed a job.
Enter the basket. In an earlier post I shared that she started to Take and Hold a basket. I mentioned hopefully that she maybe one day would carry it, or even carry something in it such as the socks she was stealing from all of us!
Miss Stella took to the commands of Take and Hold fairly quickly and seemed to really enjoy having a basket. She is good about Give as well. The problem we began to see rather quickly was that even though she was not chewing, having been held in her mouth and riding across her bite, the handle started to have issues. We started to use tape to hold it together as I have not found the perfect sturdy basket yet.
We have gotten to the point now that Miss Stella will Sit, Take, Hold, Stay, and Ok (her release) with her basket while heading off the porch for her walks. Before she would do this with her empty water bottle. Now it is her basket. She will Sit and Stay staring at me with those eyes if I have not given her the basket literally waiting and saying basically, “I do not know what you are thinking, but we are not leaving this porch until you give me my job.”
She will carry it for most of her walk. She will sometimes drop it usually when we Sit and Stay as a car drives past or if we have had an unleashed dog walk (or sometimes run) towards us. Then she drops her basket when trying to greet the pup. Once the distraction is over and we begin walking she will usually nudge my left hip and look at me as if I have forgotten something. It reminds me of when you get that “Duh” look from one of your teenagers as if you have no clue. If it takes me a second to remember, she will nudge me again and maybe even try to nudge the basket in my right hand.
If the distraction is not too major and she has left the basket sitting on the side of the road, she will Take it herself and continue on our walk. Needless to say, she will get a few stares and provoke a few comments or even a question or two. The usual question is “What is that?” Miss Stella is known to start a conversation. I know if I saw someone walking a brown bear carrying a water bottle or a basket in the neighborhood I would have to ask questions too.
By the end of our walk, often Miss Stella is ready to relax. She will follow her last few commands we go through, her routine of sorts, look for a head scratch and find a cool spot to take a nap. Finding a larger ‘cool spot’ other than the marble in front of the fireplace is proving a bit more of a challenge because she no longer fits on her cool ‘slab’. For now, I think we will work on learning to carry something in the basket without chewing or eating whatever it is she carries. I wonder what will work best for her. Mail, flowers, school supplies, laundry, treats for the elderly we want to someday visit,… Hopefully this working goof~newf will have another new task to learn soon.