Ray is a routine driven dog. I understand that this is typical of most, if not all, canines but I am convinced that Ray is above typical!
Just make a minor change in his routine and he is totally confused, and it is not simply by changing the timing of something. His routines are very specific events where the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why) all come into play. Change just 1 W in the morning, and he will wander around as if his day is just finishing rather than just starting!
Many of you will know from earlier Posts that Ray’s morning generally starts with Carol taking him outside to take care of his personal “business”, after which he gets his breakfast followed by a piece of rutabaga. I come upstairs and give him a biscuit, after which I go into my bedroom and boot up my laptop. Because I had my breakfast around 5:00am, I am now ready for another coffee and usually have a piece of toast.
The first sign to Ray that his world was crumbling around him was when I came upstairs before Carol had woken up.
(“Oh no! What do I do now? I could go into my den so that Colin will give me my biscuit, but I haven’t had my breakfast yet! Where’s my rutabaga? I haven’t been outside yet!”
I invited him outside and then followed Carol’s routine. This has been happening quite a lot lately and Ray seems to have adjusted, until this past Tuesday. Ray didn’t want to go outside so, based on the assumption that his personal needs were not currently a high priority, I gave him his breakfast.
Ray is an inhaler when it comes to food so, in order to slow him down a little, he gets his meals in two stages. The first container he gets is split into numerous sections so he has to move around a bit to empty it. His second container is a standard dog bowl. I gave him his sectional container and then started to prepare his rutabaga.
A rutabaga is not easy to cut as it requires a large rigid knife, a flat surface, and some degree of force. As they seem to be always covered in a “plastic” type of coating, they must also be scraped clean before eating. All this is not a major challenge, but has to be planned hence my focus on getting it ready while he was eating.
When Ray decides that he wants something, his routine is to stand and make eye contact (he is the best at eye contact!) and, if that does not work, he will sit and maintain eye contact. I had just finished scraping his rutabaga when he came to see me and looked at me as only a Shepherd/Rotti can. Politely demanding! Clearly he wanted his rutabaga so he was duly given it. When he came back, and given that the next event would be his biscuit, I signaled him to go into his den which he did. I then gave him his biscuit.
While this was going on, I was also making my 2nd cup of coffee and waiting for the toaster. My toast popped so I prepared it and started eating it in the kitchen with Ray in hot pursuit as a small piece of my toast is the finishing touch to the start of his day.
I then went into my bedroom to catch up on the Blogosphere and emails and no sooner had I sat down when Ray wandered in and stared at me. He was obviously confused (my assessment!) because I had already eaten my toast, but that was in the kitchen and “the routine” clearly included me eating toast in my bedroom! I was just deciding to ignore him when he turned and did his “follow me” routine. I followed him right back into the kitchen and there, where I had forgotten it, was his bowl containing the other half of his breakfast!
Now I have to contemplate who was the most confused with today’s routine? Him? Me?
After finishing his breakfast (and going outside afterwards), his day returned to normal!