Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

It's not something I worry about worry about, but I do wonder whether Sheba has enough to do during the day. I mean, not that she acts bored, or gets into the trash or tears up the furniture or whatever it is that dogs are supposed to do when they're bored. I just wonder if she's gotten, y'know, dumb, 'cause we never ask her to roll objects around with her nose until food falls out, jump over/through/around a series of small obstacles, or solve crimes with the neighborhood children. It's possible that I'm projecting: assuming she must be bored because I would be bored if I had her life. Maybe I'm projecting even more than that, and I'm just bored with my life and this has nothing to do with Sheba at all. I don't know.

In any case, we tried, this week, to give her something a little more challenging than usual. I cut a hole in a milk jug, and put tennis balls inside. Why tennis balls? They're one of the few things she pays attention to. If one rolls under an object and she can't reach it, she'll flop down on the floor and stare at it pointedly until someone retrieves it for her. If it's particularly urgent, she'll even whine a little, though that's rare.

Okay, so there are tennis balls in this thing. Huh.

And it sort of worked, in that she was interested in the milk jug, but she's not much of a creative thinker, I guess. Her first strategy was to stick her nose directly into the hole and attempt to get the balls out that way, which failed,

If I could just get a little bit closer . . .

and then the backup plan was to stare at the husband and me in the expectation that we'd deal with the problem for her.

No. Seriously. What the fuck is this? Give me my balls back.

When we didn't take the balls out for her, she lost interest; when we put a rawhide in the milk jug, she regained interest; when she couldn't get the rawhide out either, she lost interest again. Possibly this was too complicated for a first attempt at mental enrichment crap, especially since the relevant actions (rolling the jug over, picking it up and shaking it around) aren't things she typically does with anything else.

That's pretty much the whole story, but while you're here -- I'm interested in maybe trying to do some clicker training with her, but we looked at clickers the other day at the pet store and they were sort of ridiculously priced. (Considering that its only function is to make a noise -- and not even a pleasant noise -- $6 seems unreasonable.) I know there has to be something we have around the house that could be used instead, but I'm having trouble thinking of it. (Sheba's not the only one here with the occasional failure of imagination.) Any suggestions?


Jordan in Oregon said...

Those lids for baby food jars? They might be loud enough. The same kind on jams and stuff, the 'clicks when you break the seal' kind.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't have to be a click noise; any short-duration consistently repeatable unique sound will work. A whistle, a particularly loud clicky ink-pen, jar lids as the previous person mentioned, any electronic that makes a beep sound when you press a button, or you could make a tongue cluck or even a short sharp verbal "YES". Clickers are just convenient because they're small, portable, and usually cheap. (I agree $6 is a lot for a plain ol' clicker, esp because you don't live in a big inflationy city where everything costs more.)

You can sometimes find them for less than $1 if you look for "toy cricket" type keychains/kids stocking stuffers at 5&dime/junk/second-hand stores. Once found a bunch in an old Jeopardy boardgame, since that was how you "buzzed in".

Good luck! I don't primarily do clicker training for basic manners/etc, but it's a fun mental game and a good way to learn weird tricks.

- Chris in Chicago (swap/sale plants doing great, btw! :) )

Anonymous said...

How's Nina? I was thinking of her at work today. There's a little anole that has claimed the cactus light stands as it's territory. I saw it perched on the adenium this morning. Why hang out with the cactus when there's tons of nicer spots in the greenhouse? Beats me.


mr_subjunctive said...


Nina's the same as ever, I guess. Got a new cricket shipment Wednesday, so she's been focused on that. I'll tell her you asked about her.