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by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


Fluffy, up until this point, hasn't been a particularly useful addition to the family. Not that Shmogg is, but thats a different story. She's bright and enthusiastic, and cute as a button, but she seems to create havoc wherever she goes. I'd never get rid of her, but she doesn't seem to do anything else besides destroy stuff. Even when she's being affectionate, she tends to ruin clothes by jumping and pawing at them, and although she doesn't do it as often, she still occasionally nips us as she's smothering us with doggy kisses.

Because Fluffy is an inside-outside creature, it seemed a bit unfair to still enforce Shmogg's indoor-only incarceration. Besides which, if I leave the door open to encourage Fluffy to use the grass as the toilet rather than the carpet (perhaps it was a bad idea to get green carpet?), I can hardly prevent Shmogg wandering outside too. At least its an enclosed space, and it would be very difficult for either to escape. During the day, when no-ones home, I'm sure that Shmogg (on the inside) alternates between "Nyah Nyah, I'm on the inside" to Fluffy, and "its not fair, how come you get to be outside", while Fluffy looks in and has the opposite thoughts.

I let Fluffy out of the garage just before I go to work, as my morning preparations are much simpler with being constantly licked and boinged upon. Before I open the garage door, however, I usually open the back door so she can fly straight out and into the backyard, in the vain hope that she'll get the idea that she's supposed to go outside in the mornings. Usually Shmogg pays no attention to the open door as he's still inhaling his breakfast in the laundry. But sometimes, he finishes his catfood quickly and has snuck out the back door while I'm still trying to extract my self from Fluffy's energetic affection.

On the weekends, Smogg can wander in and out to his hearts content, but not on weekdays when the caffeine hasn't hit the brain cells and I'm already late for work and have to get the cat in and the dog out before I leave. Since Shmogg would have just snorted his breakfast, me rattling a can of premium cat food doesn't have the attention getting power it does just before dinnertime. As all you cat lovers know, calling to him is just an exercise in futility, and chasing him down in the hope of catching him may provide me with my exercise for the week, but does not bring me any nearer to putting the cat back inside. Fluffy, of course, thinks its all a great game and runs around me madly, keeping Shmogg at bay and doing nothing to encourage the cat back inside.

But I am cunning. (Besides which, the caffeine is at work and if I don't get there soon, I'll die of withdrawal symptoms). Fluffy is supposed to be a working dog. Being half border collie and half Australian cattledog, she's been specifically designed to chase things down, round things up, and usher them to the exact place her owner wishes them to be. Shame she's a few snags short of a barbie, but perhaps I could try anyway.

"Fluffy!" I call her enticingly, to stop her digging her way to China. "Fluffy!". At the sight of Fluffy, Shmogg does a mad dash to anywhere that doesn't have a Fluffy. I've watched sheep trials of TV, I know what to do. I begin to whistle. Mind you, I'm not real good at whistling since I've had my teeth fixed, but at least I can push a monotone screeching sound through my lips that gets Fluffy all excited. "Fluffy!" I say in my most commanding tone, and point at Shmogg. Fluffy, sits down and looks at me enquiringly. I whistle again, hoping not to shatter the windows. She boings up and down at me, while Shmogg slowly sinks into the long grass, trying to turn into a chameleon. "Fluffy!" I try once again "Shweeeeeee-up!"

Now I know I can't do all the fancy whistles they do on the sheep trials on TV. I know I've never trained Fluffy to do this sort of thing, and I'm also aware that Fluffy went for seconds in the "cute" queue when they were handing out brains. But, sheesh,. Dog, you are supposed to chase cats. It should come naturally. You dig holes, you chase balls, you drool, you piddle on the carpet. Do something doggy-like!

In exasperation, I fling my arms in great windmills, trying to show Fluffy what she was supposed to do. "Come on Fluff", I said, gesticulating wildly, "round 'im up".

You could almost see the cogs move. They were squeaky, needed a good clean and some WD-40, and some of the teeth were missing, but Fluffy's mental gears were actually going around. "Aha!", she barked in dog language "I get it!"

She bounded up to Shmoggleberry, who of course did his usual smacking of her jowls. He hissed, he spat, and he fluffed. He tried to belt her a good one, and instead of his normally sheathed claws belting her on the nose, he was at full spike. But Fluffy was now rounding up an errant, if unusually malignant sheep, and nothing was going to stop her. I suspect it was more instinct than brains, but although Shmogg hissed at clawed and was generally a spiteful as a cat can get, Fluffy ran ring around him, literally. She nipped and barked and snapped and ran, until both bolted into the house at top speed.

Well done Fluffy! Bravo! You've done a good job! Good dog! Shmogg was firmly ensconced under his "Fluffy is too big to get under here" chair, and Fluffy was jumping about excitedly, still trying to her the recalcitrant and funny looking sheep.

Of course, I'd solved one problem - the cat was back in the house - but had gained another. Fluffy was also back in the house. However, that one is very easy to solve, and we'd figured it out the day after we go her. To get her out of the house, all we have to do is wave something, anything, in front of her nose, say "Go get it, Go get it" excitedly until she starts snapping at it, and then throw it out the door, and shut the door firmly before she's come back in. Easy. Dealing with the puppy dog eyes of the Fluffy being abandoned isn't so easy, but I shut the blinds.

Bye Shmogg! Bye Fluffy! Bye Joel! See you when I get home from work!


Editor's note:

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