Let me just begin by saying that I have a dog who is mostly Border Collie. You’ve seen her around the blog. This is the part where you all go “ahhh………………….”
Because she is mostly Border Collie this means she is a mostly smart dog with a current vocabulary of about 37 words. It would be larger but well, I’m lazy when it comes to that sort of thing. She is also a very quirky dog that I rescued from the pound when I lived in New Orleans. Back then she was skin and bones and covered in bugs. I brought her home and decided she was part kangaroo because every day I came home from work I could barely get my stuff put down before she would bounce up and down in front of me until I caught her. Now she is older and much more refined and doesn’t do that sort of thing, least ways not when I’m around to see her.
She’s lived with me in two apartments in New Orleans (where she loved to herd the neighborhood children) then drove with me back home to California (where she attempted to spend most of the trip wedged under the accelerator petal, encouraged, I am sure, by the tortuous sounds coming from the cat who did not think the cross-country trip with him trapped in a carrier was a very good idea. In California she put up with a tiny little 2 bed/1 bath no backyard of her own place for about 5 years. She spent many a day perched on the cedar chest looking out the window waiting for me to come home. (Then she injured her back and we had to keep her from jumping anymore.)
Then we moved to our last house with a huge yard of her (where she quickly set herself up as chief squirrel chaser and guardian of the newspaper.) She slept wherever she wanted to which meant that she spent part of the day on the mat in the bathroom, part of the day on the floor in front of the patio door and all of the night on the floor by our bed. If something scared her, she would hide under the desk in my husband’s office. Notice that there is no mention of any time spent in my office in the old house. I don’t know what was going on there but we couldn’t get her to go into that room. Correction, she’d go in and quickly walk back out again. It had hardwood floors like the rest of the house but for some reason, even with throw rugs down for her, she wouldn’t stay. I could be in there for hours looking at books, filing papers, rearranging things and she, the dog who is always underfoot, wouldn’t stay. I’m not sure what it was about the room but I soon learned that I didn’t like it either. I never wrote in that office (though we lived there for 3 years) and instead moved to the living room couch where I worked with the laptop balanced on my lap and the dog, once more, at my feet. I guess there was something wrong in that room that I just couldn’t see but that Chelsie somehow sensed. (I actually think it was just really bad negative vibes from the owners of the place.)
So you’d think I would have learned to trust my mostly smart dog when it comes to things like that, right?
You’d be wrong.
We bought a house. As soon as I got the keys to the new house I took Chelsie over to get acquainted. We walked around the block a few times and then went into the empty house. I walked her from room to room to room. We went upstairs together, only once because she quickly decided that going down the stairs hurt too much (she’s had back surgery) and we went outside. It had been raining, a lot, and the grass was wet and mushy. I know she doesn’t like that so I wasn’t surprised when she stayed on the patio and just hopped onto the dirt real quickly when she needed to take care of business. I figured once everything dried off she’d be racing around the backyard just like at the old place.
I figured wrong.
Now maybe it’s that I just wasn’t paying attention or maybe it’s just that, as she’s gotten older, Chelsie has gotten even more quirky than before. She can’t stand the tile in the dining room, entry hall and kitchen which pretty much stinks because she gets fed in the kitchen and has to walk across a long expanse of tile to get to her food and water. She expressed her distaste for this by going on the starvation diet plan until I moved her food and water halfway across the room. Now that I have done that she, of course, spends much of her time in the place where her food and water USED to be.
Based on this sort of quirk, I wasn’t too surprised when she decided that the only way she was going to go out in the backyard and walk around was if she was able to walk on the thin row of bricks that lined the rim of the house or in the dirt along the back fence. She absolutely, positively would not step on the grass. And if she did, if she slipped off and landed on the grass she would do a little deer jump back to her chose path.
I thought she being a prissy dog who didn’t want to walk on the wet, mushy grass (we have a bit of a drainage issue.) I never thought it had a thing to do with the flickering lights in the house. (Now we get to the house tales part of the story.)
But it did.
Since we moved in we’ve been suffering with flickering lights. At 5 am when the only thing running was the refrigerator and the alarm, I would take a shower, turn on the blow dryer and the lights would go off and then come back on again. If you had the kitchen lights on and turned on the dishwasher, the same thing would happen. We figured it was a combination of it being a 44 year-old house and the “creative wiring” techniques that had been applied with all the earlier remodeling that had been done to the place. The first electrician said pretty much just that. The second electrician walked in, saw what was going on and said, “That’s not just a flicker.”
It’s a good thing my husband was the one to hear that and not me because I am sure I would have freaked out. (I still did, but it was a delayed reaction which was probably a good thing.)
The electrician went to the panel and ran his tests. (Don’t expect me to remember the exact numbers because, well, they’re numbers and I don’t do numbers.) Whatever was supposed to be coming in via the two lines was not the case. There was more and then there was less and oh yeah, there was a bunch of electricity in the ground. IN THE GROUND! In the grassy area where my mostly smart dog would not walk.
Turns out we had a mostly broken, dead and dying neutral from the power pole to the top of our roof and it was arcing and doing all sorts of not-very-nice electrical things. The very nice guys at the power company came out and replaced the wire. I came home from work, turned on all the lights in the house and then turned on the blow dryer and NOTHING HAPPENED. Well, nothing except that hot air came out of the blow dryer like it was supposed to. So I ran downstairs, turned on some more lights, and then ran the dishwasher. And nothing flickered. Nary a whit.
So of course (you know what’s coming, right?) I ran to the back door and called Chelsie outside and she, being the mostly smart dog that she is, ran outside and promptly sat on the grass. Then she ran around in circles on the grass. Then she rolled in the grass. Twice. And now, every day, she’s prancing around the lawn like there was never any doubt that her mostly smart humans would eventually figured things out and fix her yard for her.
And we did.
Score: House 2, Susan 0
Don’t you love dogs??? When my oldest was a toddler, he got stuck between the inside and outside back doors. I was downstairs in my office and didn’t know…but the dog came and herded me!
Oh my goodness! That’s a great dog story too! I would be lost without a dog in my world. Right now we are trying to figure out how to add another one. Chelsie isn’t the most dependable when it comes to being around other dogs.
Hooray for Chelsie, leading her humans to the solution!
Can’t wait to meet your adorable and smart dog! I’m so relieved you got that fixed! I was just thinking about you and the arcing yesterday! see you soon! (I’m in Move Hell now.)
Ditto. I wonder if we can get them to play together? As a rule, Chelsie loves little dogs, it’s my hubby who wants a bigger one.
My Trixie plays well with other dogs, but it takes her a while to warm up (she’s a scardycat). Would love to try a playdate! 🙂
Chelsie sounds very impressive!
Thanks. I don’t think I’ve been giving her nearly enough credit.
Okay, that’s really impressive! Even though I was sort of worried when I was reading it, because I somehow convinced myself that your pooch was actually seeing some sort of ghost in the backyard and that one dark and stormy night you’d look out the window and…you get picture.
So glad that everything is fixed, and that Chelsie can enjoy the (ghost free) backyard!
I was SURE that’s where she was going with this story, too. A ghost in the office and now a ghost in the backyard!
I’d much rather think of a ghost in my old office where I don’t live anymore than in the new yard where I do. 🙂
I would laugh except that I am pretty sure that’s the issue from the old house….I burned white sage and did all sorts of things to try and shake the feeling but couldn’t.
WOW. That’s terrifying. What if you had babies who wanted to play in the grass! Ah!
Chelsie deserves a bowl full of dog treats.
Oh that is so so right. Even more scary to think about if my grandson had been visiting. Whew!
Chelsie sounds to me like more than “mostly” smart. 🙂 She’s adorable as well. Glad y’all got the problem found and fixed with nobody injured and nothing incinerated!
Thanks, and I’m glad too!
Chelsie’s a modern-day Lassie, isn’t she?
This story made me smile. 🙂
I’d like to think she will always come to my rescue….and I’m glad every so often something happens to keep that thought alive.
Yay for border collies! So much smarter than the humans!
ain’t that the truth!
Chelsie’s more than “mostly” smart!
Those herd breeds are brilliant! What a wonderfully cool story! Thanks for sharing.
PS – I love your dog. She looks a lot like my oversized Sheltie!
Who’s a clever doggie? You are, yes you are.
Oh, Susan — sorry, didn’t expect you to be reading this. That last bit was for Chelsea, of course.
Yay for Chelsie! Aren’t we glad they allow us to live in their world?
Yes we are.
I love sheepdogs! Congrats on figuring things out in time!
You do know there is an incredible article for a kids’ animal/nature magazine here, right?
Re: Dog Heroine
Uhm, no. I hadn’t thought about that but you are probably right. Ack – great idea but where to start?
Re: Dog Heroine
I think you’ve already got the structure in this blog entry. You tell your pup’s basic bio–much simpler, obviously, and with more summary, but emphasize her history of times she’s known what’s going on. Then focus on her attitude with the grass and make it a “mystery.” The other mystery is the flickering. End with something like, if your pup could have talked, she’d have solved it for you much more quickly than the humans!
I haven’t done much nonfiction, just starting on it, but I think you’ve really got something here!
Re: Dog Heroine
But Becky, I panic so well. 🙂
Thanks for the encouragment.
Whoa. Good doggie, Chelsie!!
Very, very good dog.
Shouldn’t it be Chelsie:2?
Yay Chelsie! And I’ll bet she’d have warned you if that wonky wiring was going to hurt you guys- but thank goodness you didn’t have to find out!
I’m glad we didn’t have to put that to the test.
What a smart, cool doggie.
My cat is constantly meowing at me to open up various closets for her. Often I find one of her toys that has been batted beneath the door. Once I found a bug. The times I found nothing, I wonder if I just didn’t see it.
Oh cats are smart too. When my cat was alive, he and Chelsie would team up to get food off the counter and out of the fridge and open containers so they could have a snack.
Whoa! Yea for Chelsie!
That is quite a story . . .