Sunday, April 26, 2009

Windsor aka Wheezy aka Cheese Dog!

So when I was about 6 years old, around first grade, our family made the big move from a particularly nasty area of inner-city Detroit to the suburban wonderland that is Dearborn, world headquarters for the lamest owner in sports, William Clay Ford, but I digress. Now we had room and needed a dog, of course. So Dad found an Old English Sheepdog at some farm that I recall being somewhere west of Ann Arbor, though I can't be sure as the memories are fuzzy now at my advance age. We got a puppy that we dubbed Barney and he was a great dude that I took much care of until he left this mortal coil around my junior year of high school. He developed some varied health issues and needed to be put to sleep but he lived a full life.

Fast forward about 15 years without a dog and the ex and I have acquired our first house in Portland in mid-1996. As we settle in we settle on the fact that we need a dog particularly since our house already came with a completely fenced in yard. I can be convincing at times and the choice was made to acquire another OES. Early spring of 97' rolls around and I am on the hunt. I locate one in the want ads of the Oregonian and the deal sounds too good to be true-$100 including a large transport crate. Heck, those things ran about $150 new back then.

We visit the couple with the OES (she's got papers and she goes by Elsie-yuck!) and the story is that they got her as a puppy from a respected breeder after the last of their kids went off to college. Turns out, bad planning as he is a building contractor and she is a real estate agent they don't have the time to care for her and train her properly as she now approaches age two. At first I was hesitant. Yes, it was clear that they didn't have time to take care of her-in fact, they had her coat sheared and she looked goofy all buzzed. Second, she seemed a tad rambunctious. Well, I thought, I am always up for a challenge. They liked the fact I knew the breed and even arranged to drive across town and drop her off. Oh my...

It was very apparent immediately that Windsor (as we dubbed her-gotta keep with the British Isles names) had almost no training, no barriers at all. She was bonkers to say the least. All energy, all random action. We didn't know what to do and Cyndy was openly distraught. Well, after a month of this chaos, we learned about this ex-Marine dog trainer who did things differently. Instead of paying for a set of classes or by the class, his deal was you paid a one time flat fee. Not cheap. But he guaranteed success no matter how many sessions it took until you were happy with the results. If it took 10 sessions, so be it. If it took 50, fine. Well dang, it worked after about 15 sessions. Of course most of the training was training us what to do. That was fine. I was only interested in results and it worked.

Shortly thereafter we took Windsor on her first trip with us for a week for our first time all the way down the glorious Oregon coast camping and rafting and then inland for hanging/hiking at Crater Lake NP. She did alright for the most part (except for the time she jumped out of the car with the window rolled down while we were crawling through the campground-she was fine-and the time she accidentally nipped my nose all open and bloody while barking at a semi trailer truck loudly going by while she was leashed in the back seat) and it looked like a long term match for sure.

In short time, she developed into our greatest bud. Curiously, she loved other people but had almost no tolerance for her canine peers. She learned to roller blade (well, as in, I roller bladed down the street as she pulled me with all her might while I veered back and forth like a was water skiing holding her leash-it was the neighborhood sensation). And she even learned to fetch instead of herding, a genetic trait she would roll out on occasion that cracked everyone up.

Through thick and thin she has always been there for me with a big wet tongue, her prancing antics and ready for a lay on-the-back belly rub with her back legs kicking. I am writing this as she turns fourteen today which is marvelous and almost unheard of for OESs and almost all other breeds of her size (she once weighed 85 lbs. but is down to 77 which is normal at her age). Essentially, she is in great shape and usually very healthy with no illnesses. Yes, of course, she is suffering from the vagaries of old age (her hearing is diminished, her eyesight is down to about 25% which is not a big deal for dogs as they don't really rely on sight so much anyway and her joints have gone downhill in the past two years-she's on a joint medication prescription which helps but she can still smell her beloved cheese from across the room). She can hardly run anymore but she tries when we hit the nearby park-she's a trooper and I adore her. Something tells me she still has another year or two left in her-as long as I am around to lift her off the Spanish tile that she prefers to lay on despite the fact that I have large area rugs for her around my house-I guess being English she is a bit stubborn, particularly in old age.

1 comment:

LYZ KAREN said...

Happy birthday to Windsor...