Monday, June 09, 2008

About my dog, Bertha

Growing up, my dad always had 10 big dogs or so at his house, and whenever I wanted to see him, my short little self had to battle with 10 dogs that were bigger than me. So, for a long time, I didn't like dogs. My mom and I had a couple growing up, but I never developed any kind of relationship with them, because I've just never been a dog fan. In college I had a dog-it was the worst dog in the history of the world, and she destroyed so many things that it was unbelievable. That was a pretty bad experience. So, I was all set to have no dogs in my adult life.

Then I met Bertha. I was visiting my friend Mark Maason (I can't find a link or a picture, but this man was BEAUTIFUL) in Boone when I'd first moved to Hickory. His neighbor had this dog that the landlord had found out about. They had to find her a home, and quickly. This owner wasn't the orginal either...she had gotten Bertha from a dude that had found her at a concert. I fell head over heals in love with her in the 10 minutes we got to play. So, we took the dog home.

Bertha has always been a relatively good dog...but she was wont to crap on the floor or tear up the garbage when she got pissed at me. And because she had been abandoned, she had a real fear that we would leave her too. So when I say "when she got pissed at me"...for a while, that was every time I would leave her. But even when dealing with that, it was worth it. This dog has more personality than any dog I've ever known. She's really like a little person...a mute person, but still a person. You always have the idea when you're looking at her that she is thinking some deep thoughts, and when I talk to her, it seems, and has always seemed, that she understands a little too much.

When Satterfield and I split, he took the dog and left the cat. This was terrible on the dog and I, because she's always been a mama's girl. Ultimately, S took her to live with the mother of a girl he was dating. If found out and raised holy hell, so he brought her back to me. That whole fiasco brought a new bout of abandonment issues, but was she ever happy to be reunited with me.

A note on Bertha-she lives to play fetch. Any version of fetch, with any sort of thing to throw. When we don't have a ball, she'll bring a tiny little piece of bark, and completely expect for us to throw it for the next 30 minutes. She has been this way the entire time I've known her, which is adorable...but what about when you get tired of playing fetch? Well, she's not done. She's just going to keep bringing the bark and dropping it at your feet. Until you go inside, and then she'll bring you a stuffed animal to throw. This is irritating.

Since Jon has moved in with us, Bertha has really blossomed into a totally good dog. Maybe it is the stability of having 2 responsible parents she knows she can count on...maybe it is because Jon's expectations were higher than mine, and she rose to meet them...who knows. She hasn't torn into the trash in months. And in the last 3 months, we've only found one poo pile, and I'm pretty sure that was an emergency. She is more cooperative when cutting her hair/nails/cleaning her ears etc. She seems to love me even more, and loves Jon as much as she loves me. She has learned so many more words and word phrases, which thrills me. A partial list of things she understands:

Come here.
Bring me the ball.
Find the ball.
Drop it.
Put it in my hand.
Give me a kiss.
Where is your toy? (She knows the difference in toy and ball.)
Let's go out.
Go potty.
Let's go to Matt's. (Where the pool is that makes her so happy.)
She knows the names of me, Jon, Allison, Matt, My mom, Jon parents, and she forgets the others, but remembers them when I teach her.
And my favorite new thing she's learned? That when we're playing fetch, and I sit the ball down and look away, we're done. Now, she just takes the ball, goes and sits down, and licks the ball.

She also has a great deal of stuffed animals. Does she tear them to shred like most animals? No. She carries them around like little babies. She licks them, and pretty much always has one with her. She has a chair in the living room where she keeps her pillow, a stuffed bear rug to lay on, about 2 balls, and as many stuffed animals as are out at the time. And she loves to come sit on the couch with us, but only if she can have a stuffed animal in her mouth.

I know I'm going on too long about my dog, but a word or 50 about the pool: This dog loves the pool. She loves rivers and streams too, but the pool keeps her wildly entertained. At first, she had to always go down the stairs to get in. Then, she finally figured out that she can jump in anywhere, although that still isn't her favorite. It gets her head wet, and she likes to avoid that. But on Friday, we taught her how to use a float. What follows is perhaps the best minute of video ever shot with my camera. Notice how focused she is on the ball. It's impressive.

In short, I never thought I'd be one of those people who loves their dog more than most people. But I am. I love Bertha Eckard.


Lovey said...

When thinking of the talents of Bertha, this will make you laugh!
My mom came to stay for a week. During her stay, she determined something: Barley doesn't have a large vocabulary. How I wish hers matched Bertha's!!

Jenelle said...

I love my grand-dog! Can't wait to see what she thinks of the ocean! What is wrong with her leg?

Allison said...

Bertha is a great dog. I wish my mom's dogs were that smart.

AmyD said...

Oh good, I'm not the only one who thinks my dogs are THE BEST and who views - and treats - them like their own children. :o) Bertha sounds absolutely darling. I'm bummed that the video wouldn't work for me! :o(