Given that Ray is my first experience of living with a dog, a number of his idiosyncrasies I simply put down to probably typical rescued dog behaviour. These would be situations like laying at my feet when I am preparing food; staring at me while I am consuming food; standing behind me hoping that I’ll trip over him and drop some food; climbing into the refrigerator (figuratively speaking of course) with me, just hoping that his mouth will bump into food.
One odd habit that our Ray has, is to lay down in the most inconvenient locations. If I am down in the basement, he will lay down (and probably fall asleep) right alongside the gate at the top of the basement stairs. Opening the gate is quite impossible, as is trying to nudge him gently with it. While that would sometimes get his attention, he would then just look at me as if I shouldn’t have got myself into that situation in the first place!
If he happened to be asleep, then I had a whole new problem. Apparently he has “startle response”. Having experienced Ray’s “startle response” twice (I guess I just didn’t get it the first time), I have a whole new perspective on the saying “Let sleeping dogs lie”. It may have very broad applications but, if you live with a Ray, you take it very literally. Do NOT touch the dog!
In this situation, there were two problems to resolve. How do I wake up a sleeping Ray? How do I get him to move? Both situations could be resolved with some planning. I could simply call his name and then drop a good treat just beyond his reach. He would get up in order to get his treat. This was guaranteed to work, however it meant that I had to remember to take some good treats with me whenever I went down to the basement, and they had to be good treats. If I relied on his regular menu (which is stored in the basement) to solve the problem, I would be down there for the rest of the day.
I could phone a neighbour and ask them to ring our door bell, or I could simply wait until around 4:30pm when Ray moves to the back door mat and waits for Carol to come home. Getting him to move away from the gate without some form of bribery was a hopeless venture! You cannot gently nudge a 75lb Ray and expect him to move, and a more forceful approach clearly caused displeasure which I chose not to escalate!
A solution was suggested by Ray’s friend (from OMHS) Heather, and Ray quickly learned that “Excuse me please” (with a wave of the arm) meant he was expected to move. Once he had moved, he expected a “Thank you” and occasionally a good treat but this was no longer an issue because I could now get a good treat for him! This has been used since on many occasions with complete success, which means that I can now go down to the basement whenever I want! Freedom to roam the house at last! Now I am working on his separation anxiety so that I can get out periodically!
I was just reviewing this post and had a thought. When I eventually manage to get out, how am I going to get back in if Ray is asleep on the other side of the door? I must remember to take both the front and the back door keys with me!