At least with the dogs inside there are fewer surprises being brought in from outdoors.
Tucker, the oldest, one day a few years ago came bounding into the house happy as a lark and jumped into the air landing on my visiting editor's lap. Fortunately, she is a dog lover. She happily petted him and then asked what that smell was. With Tucker, who knows.
I instructed him to get down and when he did we noticed something on my editor's shirt. Upon closer examination we realized it was the entrails from a rodent. Yep, that's right, my sweet adorable little westie rolled on top of a dead mouse...they just love the perfume of a dead animal. So, embarrassed, I helped clean mouse guts from my editor's shirt. What's a little kidney or liver bits to a dog lover.
My cat, Echo, loves to get onto the dining room table and play with small items like paperclips, pens, pencils, or anything else small enough to play table hockey with. But eventually she misses and onto the floor it goes. Emily, my little girl westie, has an oral fixation issue. She must always carry a toy or stick around in her mouth. She's the first one to find the items on the floor. Have you ever seen a white westie after it chews up a black ink gel pen? Not a pretty sight, nor is anything she may have recently rubbed her face on.
I used to chase her around the the dining room into my office, back through the dining room, into the kitchen and back again trying to get her to release the stolen object. Frequently, she would run out the doggie door and then I'd have to search the grass for whatever it was that she was carrying around.
Then it hit me. The magic word...."cookie" would cause her not only come to me, but drop at my feet whatever she had in her mouth to snatch a delicious dog cookie from my fingers.
The game was on.
Emily would bring a stick into the house to chew to bits on the carpet, but if I asked her to bring it to me for a cookie I could toss the stick into the trash and avoid the mess. Then she learned to just bring the stick directly to me at my desk while I was writing my latest book and she would get a cookie.
Over several months she brought sticks and twigs, rocks, paperclips, pens, pencils, erasers, bread twist-ties, marbles, anything she could find for a cookie reward.
I was so proud of my little girl. I bragged to my hubby each time she traded her find for a cookie.
One day I was deeply involved in a scene I was writing when she came to me. She sat patiently at my feet with something in her mouth. I told her to wait. I kept writing. She whined. I wrote faster, looking deeply into my screen trying to get my thoughts down before they slipped from my mind.
She whined and stood up to my leg scratching it with her paws. I patted her head and told her to wait once more. I kept writing. Then she leaped into my lap and dropped a live baby mouse. If you have read my other blog entries you know I don't like mice. I screamed. She wouldn't take it off, she wouldn't get up so I could stand and this little mouse was running around my lap heading up my shirt. I screamed louder and my hubby came running in, grabbed the mouse and disposed of it. All the while Emily was waiting for her cookie.
Of course my hubby laughed and blamed me for teaching her to bring her prizes to me. After I regained my composure, I went to the kitchen and rewarded her with a cookie.
She gobbled it up and ran outside. She quickly returned through the doggie door and raced to my feet with another gift. This time I stopped typing to look. There, hanging out the corner of her mouth, was a mouse tail. I stood on my chair screaming and my hubby coaxed the mouse from her mouth and I, of course, gave her a cookie.
Moments later we repeated the scene. I'm screaming, my husband is laughing and Emily is happily wagging her tail.
It appears she found a nest of baby mice and brought a total of five live mice to me in exchange for five cookies.
Emily continues to bring items to me in exchange for cookies, but I have learned to be extremely cautious. If you've ever owned a westie you'd understand how clever and full of surprises they can be.