The Sir Walter treatment
When Tudor was still a young Tudor, he was brought up as a complete
townie. Nothing but the best asphalt and the finest pavement would do
for him and even though he permitted himself to be walked over
terra natura in the country park, you got the feeling that the earth he
trod wasn't really thought good enough for a spoiled border collie of
All this abrasive terra firma, combined with his habit of doing everything at breakneck speed, had the welcome side effect that his claws were kept as short as nature would allow. A pedicure in the Pooch parlour would have been a total waste of time and money, as far as Tudor was concerned.
Then he moved to the country and things suddenly changed. The new house had wood effect laminated floors and at first there was no problem, but his feet had to get used to totally new conditions. Gone were the days of pavement and macadam - these splendid materials were replaced by mud, earth and endless acres of grass - all very soft by comparison, particularly as the correct way of sneaking up on sheep involves a slow crouched approach rather than his usual black&white rocket imitation.
All this resulted in Tudor's claws growing at a prodigious rate. This was a huge advantage in the great outdoors but a distinct handicap inside the house. Tudor never learned to walk on imitation wood! Carpets, linoleum - no bother, but the minute he set foot on the laminated plastic he started to slither over the stuff as if on ice.
This went on for a while and got more dangerous by the day. The problem was not so much the floor - because when Tudor wasn't concentrating he had no bother walking over it. But the minute he was in a hurry or realized that a slippery floor was under him he started to panic, his feet would fly like a mouse-chasing cartoon character and Tudor would be fixed to the spot at high speed - until he slipped and fell. Such an indignity is of course not to be suffered by a self respecting border collie and after a year or two of earnestly trying, he decided to give up. The main problems were the way from the kitchen to the dining room, and from underneath the computer desk to the hall.
Tudor has no problem walking into the kitchen - when his thoughts are all about food he glides over the slippery floor like Fred Astaire on a wintry day. The minute he wants to leave the kitchen, however, he suddenly realises what is ahead and underneath him, and comes to a shuddering halt. No endearment or bribe will persuade him to take a single further step: quite the opposite - he tends to walk backwards into the kitchen and stay there. Should this happen when he is on his own, he can be stuck for a considerable time until one of us finally realizes that the dog is nowhere to be seen and comes to lend a helping paw.
The rescue technique is simple but effective; it also has a lot of elegance because it is borrowed from the distant past. History tells us that once, when Queen Elizabeth was confronted by an unexpected puddle - what with the fleet away and no bridge in sight - Sir Walter Raleigh came to the rescue and gallantly spread his cloak on the ground so that his sovereign could cross the puddle in comfort - and the now useless cloak could pass into history.
We decided to use the same technique. Every time Tudor is stuck we spread a ready garment in front of him. He instantly walks over and away from it - sure footed and happy - not a slither in sight. The crazy thing is that once he feels the cape, he walks quite happily over acres of slippery floor beyond - even avoiding the safe anchorage of the carpet - with never a second thought. It seems that the problem is mainly in his mind!
It must be admitted however, that there is one great
disadvantage to this condition which wasn't apparent
straight off: the last time we came into the the house and surprised a
burglar, the criminal was happily rampaging through the house whilst
was standing on the bedroom rug - barking furiously - but too
nervous to cross the slippery space between rug and hall and take a
really good bite out of the intruder.
Just joking, of course.
Finally: to put some sort of vividness to this
tale, I present an example of a near daily routine.
It takes the form a three way conversation. The two
humans are upstairs in different rooms, the dog is downstairs, trapped
between kitchen and dining room. Which one is the dog? Figure it out
"Jochen, Jochen, is the dog with you?"
"Haven't seen him for hours. Wasn't he outside in the yard? Did you let him in?"
"Hours ago - I wonder what happened to him. Could he be? .... oh no, he must be stuck somewhere."
"Feep, feeeeep, feeyouauaauaueeep!"
"Where are you? Are you stuck, wee darlin'?!"
"FEEP-YOUUUUWHHH-YOUW-WHAUeeee -ROUGH ROUGH AOUUUUU FEEEeeeeep!"
"He is stuck all right. He seems to be down in the kitchen. Off you go Sir Walter. Do your stuff."
"Yes, your majesty."
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