So What's New With Shasta? (Warning: Cute Dog Picture)

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So we’ve now had a little black dog for three weeks, and life is adjustment.  I have to get up earlier to take her for a walk (or Gini does, but I try to take that shift).  We can’t leave the house quite as spontaneously.  And, of course, Shasta is watching you pee:
(For the record, I took this photo while I was flossing. Regardless, that’s totally her “Whatcha doin’?” face as she sticks her head into the bathroom.)
Shasta is incredibly bright, but she’s also the least food-motivated dog I’ve ever seen, which makes it incredibly hard to train her.  She doesn’t beg for people-food; she barely seems to notice its existence.  So while she loves positive feedback, it’s hard to get her attention to a specific part of you, whereas other dogs will snap to attention when you hold up the Beggin’ Strip.  Still, we’ve gotten her about 70% of the way to a consistent “sit,” and she mostly doesn’t yank on the leash, but still.
She’s also still got a ton of separation anxiety, but that seems to be working its way out of her.  We leave the house and there are accidents, but she no longer whines when we go into a separate room and shut the door, and doesn’t immediately freak out when we go outside to, say, put out the garbage.  Still, she’s wired for company; we’ve trained her she can be up on the furniture if her red towel is there, and she pretty much refuses to be anywhere else.
She’s also less barky.  Cesar Millan helped with that; he said that there’s the lead dog, who chooses what the pack is hunting for, and then the top dogs are at the front of the pack, ready to fight.  It’s the dogs at the back of the pack who are on guard duty, barking if there’s any potential danger.  So if your dog barks a lot, she may think it’s her job to alert you – and you yelling “SHUT UP!” is just louder barking to your dog, who becomes convinced you’re glad she’s alerted you.  So we took the approach of not even reacting when she barks, and that instantly calmed her down.
She’s a dog, not a human.  Go figure.
It also doesn’t help that I’m reading Mary Roach’s “Gulp,” which has a whole chapter on dog food.  Dog food is like Cheetos; basically styrofoam with an intense outer coating of sniffy-flavor designed to get a dog to put it in their mouth.  Which is an uphill battle, because dogs don’t eat pellets in the wild.  The biggest issue with pet food, however, is the owners, who have to be convinced that their pet would like the food, even if the flavors of, say, decaying rabbit are completely appetizing to a dog.  But you have idiotic owners who are like, “My cat wants to be a vegetarian!” and so the pet food companies completely lie to you.  That tuna flavored cat food?  Pretty much the same as the chicken.  Cats want more consistency in food, but their owners are convinced they’ll get bored, so they swap labels.
Which makes sense.  The dog is not a human.  The dog has some adorbs traits, but I try not to map my own consciousness onto her too much.  It’s more fascinating to me to try to see how she thinks, and wonder how different her wiring is, and yet she’s every bit as complex as I am.
That’s pretty amazing, really.

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