Friday, September 4, 2009

Button Pushing (or "Going out of your Way to Tick People Off")

Have you ever noticed that there are some people who truly seem to enjoy pushing the buttons of other people? I mean, it's fun for them to see how aggravated, irritated, or upset they can get someone else. It's ridiculous!

My current "button-pusher" (well, the main one ;)) is not a person at all. No, it's my golden retriever, Mollie, who has taken the fine art of pissing people off to new heights. She's an ambassador of annoyance.

Here's a picture for you:



Just a ball ... pretty harmless, right? Hahaha! Not where I'm sitting. No, Mollie uses this circular piece of rubber as the equivalent of a medieval torture device.

Let's say you get home from a long day at work. The idea of taking the dogs out for a run sounds pretty appealing, right? Even more fun--since they're both retrievers and have a natural love of fetching--would be a nice game of ball.

Hmm.

What usually happens is that Mollie picks up her ball, charges outside, and starts running laps (the Invisible Fence concept is a great invention, by the way). Sonja usually joins her, and it's great that they're getting their energy out plus it's pretty cute to watch. At some point, however, Mollie comes running up to you and starts saying, "Would you throw the ball, please? A nice game of fetch sounds like fun." (Anyone who says dogs can't talk has never had a dog) So you tell her to drop the ball so you can throw it--and she just gives you this look of defiance. Sonja, who's generally laying under a tree at this point, comes over because heck, fetch is a great game and she wants in.

And then Mollie won't drop the ball. She'll sit there dancing around with it in her mouth, sometimes dropping it then snatching it back up before either myself or Sonja can reach it, but she will not put it down. At some point, I usually try to take it out of her mouth just because the whole thing is so aggravating and poor Sonja clearly wants to play fetch even if Mollie wants to be a twit (and yes, we have multiple balls ... you can probably figure out what happens when we try that). Yeah ... she draws blood when you try to take her ball away. Not pretty.

But in the great scheme of Mollie as a Master of Masochism, that's nothing. No, she has far more devious devices for that freaking ball.

Although she WILL NOT drop the ball for you outside, she somehow thinks that inside the house is just the perfect location for playing fetch. She will drop her ball--slimy with dog drool and smelling unbelievably bad--into your lap and, if you don't throw it, will take it out of your lap and then drop it there again. Over and over and over again. If you do throw it, she'll fetch it perfectly and bring it to you to throw again, the very behavior you want her to do outside. Here's a visual of the great ball drop according to Moll:



I saved the best for last, though. Mollie's latest and not-so-greatest trick is that she will push her ball under a piece of furniture and then scratch at the floor, whine, cry, and otherwise drive you bonkers until you get the ball out. Doesn't sound too bad, right? I mean, how hard is it to lift the end of a couch end up or use a yard stick to swipe under a hutch? Well, one would think so, but only if that person didn't know Mollie ...

No, Mollie has figured out which furniture cannot be lifted--and that's where she focuses her energies. I have had to empty out my bureau twice since I couldn't lift it any other way and, when the yardstick doesn't work with the hutch (it's all about angles--definitely not my forte), that's an adventure too. Furthermore, she has started a new habit of hiding her ball under Belle's bed and then scratching all around it, jumping all over it, and just being in general a loud, obnoxious nuisance when Belle is asleep.

The thing is, that dog is smart. Like, ridiculously smart. She gets ample attention, has people around happy to play with her, and went through extensive dog school training. She knows right from wrong--she's just a button-pusher, and I've never met one of the canine variety before. If it wasn't so darn annoying, it would be really funny. And there's not a lot to be done--I mean, we tried moving every single ball outside, and ... well, you can probably imagine what the door looked like after that.

But smart as she is, conniving as she is, Mollie is a dog. I also have to say, to be fair, that I love her dearly and that she's wonderfully gentle with Belle and Addie (especially Belle--Addie is not a fan of dogs in general and Mollie in particular). Belle is the only person Belle will play fetch appropriately with outside. And, of course, there's this:



So how do you deal with human versions of Mollie?