Rosie is a Red-Tri Australian Shepherd. At forty pounds, she's small for her breed but deceptively strong. After six years of being pulled around at the end of her leash, massaging my shoulder, I can tell you she's missed her calling as a sled dog.
We brought Rosie home the weekend after our youngest child flew the nest. She was one of five little balls of auburn, tan and white fluff, so cute it hurt your heart just to look at her. We knew she was the one because while the other pups tussled with each other or fell nose first into their communal food bowl, she walked over, sat on my husband's foot and started eating his shoelace. She's been sitting on our feet, and the feet of anyone else she wants to feel at home with our pack, ever since.
We'd retired from our day jobs a month before we brought Rosie home. With all that extra time for training, we had high hopes of raising the perfect pup. But Rosie had other ideas. At six months, after her puppy shots had taken effect, we started going to the park to socialize with other dogs. She loved it! But unfortunately they didn't love her so much.
She wanted play long and hard; they didn't quite have the stamina. She had no nerve endings and couldn't understand why the other dogs didn't want to go full out mauling, growling, and salivating all over each other. I think we could have worked on it, but I started feeling the chill from the owners of the other dogs. We were persona and canis non grata. We tried one more time when Ro was a couple years older. By then she'd learned at least the concept of moderation. It was all going pretty well until she peed on one of the other dogs' tennis ball. The owner looked horrified (for goodness sakes, it was just a little pee). We slinked away and haven't been back.
When people come to visit, Rosie gets overly excited and barks in this ear-splitting frequency for about ten seconds. That doesn't sound like a long time, but even I admit it can be annoying. She doesn't mean to be annoying, she's just overcome with anticipation. She loves people. Some of our visitors have misinterpreted her barking as a sign of aggression, but that's the farthest thing from Rosie's thoughts. (Rosie's thoughts: "Oh boy, people! I love people! What could be better than people!") A bark collar has been suggested, but how can a loving dog-parent be expected to rain on that kind of enthusiasm and good humor? People of well-trained dogs, please don't answer that.
So I say what any mother of an Incorrigible would say, "She's blessed with vim and vigor. She's precocious, you know, really smart, which creates a lot of energy that's difficult for her to contain. I'm certain she'll outgrow it and be an accomplished dog, certainly a dog among dogs one day. Probably get a scholarship and play in the big leagues, putting all her energy to good use . . ."
But when you all aren't looking, she is my shadow, my constant and devoted companion. She brings me my slippers and helps me with the laundry, picking up the pieces I drop on the way to the machine. She herds my car into the garage by barking and walking behind it in figure eights, certain that I can't maneuver it in without her help. She warms my feet when I watch TV and rests her head on my lap, gazing up at me as if I'm the best thing since peanut butter stuffed in a cow bone.
Now, what mom of a fur-child would not love that?