Woo / Anti-Woo


We’re boarding Max over the holidays.  He is the Anti-Woo; where Woo is small, Max is large.  Where Woo is orange, Max is white.  Where Woo is curled up on a dog bed in the living room (with his other self:)box-1-15

Max is laying on a dog bed in my bedroom wishing he, too, could come into the living room.

Alas, TWooie will not let him.

This makes TWooie a rather bad dog, but it does serve one useful purpose … Max wants to eat my cats, so they are curled up on the dog bed with the WooTWoo, where Maxes dare not tread.  So in the spirit of Living Cats, I have allowed TWoo to be as much of a dick about the living room as he likes.

Besides, he learned to JUMP! for a cookie today, little Batmanesque arm fringes flapping in all akimbo in the breeze, and that makes me happy.

Nothing about TWooie makes Max happy; the only thing that would make Max happy would be eating my cats.

What would make me most happy about Max would be if he would shut the hell up.  He spends all his outside time obsessing over, chasing and barking at Dexter (who alternates between being oblivious and hating Max for being irritating) and if you ask him to stop doing that and try and focus, he starts spinning in circles.  Max is an anxious fella – he was adopted from TDBCR and returned several months later, his adopters citing that he was pathologically shy and needed (of course) “a home in the country, where there aren’t a lot of people.”  Still waiting for that magical country home that so many problem dogs seem to be looking for.  Besides MY home I mean!  I’m full, dammit!!

Anyway, Max’s original foster mum is waffling about keeping him permanently but was traveling over Christmas, so I offered to dog sit to make things easier for her <insert evil grin here>.

Besides the cat thing, he’s pretty easy to have in the house, mostly because he can’t leave the bedroom.

Anyway, I don’t think Max is pathologically shy – he’s definitely nervous of people he doesn’t know, though he can tolerate them in small numbers.  I mean he doesn’t really know me, but he was my new best friend within minutes of (re-)meeting him.  He’s got a pretty highly developed startle response, but I think with some effort that could be pretty easily redirected to a training response.  I got him a head halter, which I think will go a long way toward refocusing him when needed, and if I wasn’t so lazy I’d take him out with it today and work on Look At That.

Alas, I *am* very lazy today, and waited too long, as now it’s storming outside.  I spent the morning with my new life partner, Kemore Von Suckenshtein, who is known affectionately ‘ round these parts as Kenny V.

Kenny V was my Christmas gift from my family, and I *heart* him!  My last vacuum cleaner went to the big proverbial sucking void in the sky about 6 weeks ago, and life has been hell ever since.  The gift was probably inspired by me sobbing hysterically into the telephone at my mother, as I tried to free my area rugs of hair with an old clothes brush (I exaggerate – but not by much!)  We celebrated Christmas on Friday, as I had to work at the shelter on Saturday and my sister, who is married, has two families competing for attention.  So this morning I was very excited to get up close and personal with my new friend, and we spent the morning vacuuming pretty much any surface in the house that could tolerate it.

Now all I need is one of those floor washing Roomba guys, and a tiny trained monkey that can climb walls and eat cobwebs, and my house cleaning routine would be all sorted out!

The mud factor increased by 17% with the addition of Max The Walking Toupee.

…who appears to have stolen Wootie’s missing Flamboyance™.  Look at this sad, scraggly little thing :(

Grab your big hairy coat and go home!

The real Christmas miracle around here though, is the new, somewhat more well behaved WooTWoo.  I did say somewhat, but it’s better than nothing!  I decided, after some deliberation, to try a different approach (because hopping up and down with rage wasn’t getting me anywhere) to their training.

The first thing I did was accept that the WooTWoo is a single entity, and stop trying to train them individually. If I want one of them to do something, best just to ask both of them to do it.  Most of the time, at least one of them will comply, which is a 50% higher success rate than neither of them batting an eyelash at the sound of my voice.  It may or may not be the one that I asked initially, but at least one of them always does it.

The second thing I did, which flies in the face of all conventional dog training, is to start rewarding the behaviours they gave me even if I had to ask for the behaviour 3 or 12 or 71 times.  For example – if I want the WooTWoo to cease hunting and return to me, I whistle the WooTWoo Whistle.  Initially I may have had to whistle until my lips were permanently puckered, but when they eventually showed up, I showered them both with cookies, swallowed my intense irritation, and told they they were a Wonderful WooTWoo.  Surprisingly, this worked really well.  After just a few days of this, they almost always return after a single whistle now.

(Please note what you see in the upper left corner of this photo, which was supposed to be of Dexter)

If they don’t, usually Woo shows up on his own.  And after a few more minutes, TWooie eventually comes pounding down the road with his Flambe™ going all furious-like.

The third thing I started doing, and this may or may not be a total coincidence, is picking TWooie up when I return home from somewhere.  He likes it when I pick him up, so he’s started standing up on his hind legs and putting his front paws in the air so I will lift him up and give him a big hug, and let him snorfle my ear, which is his version of a smooch.

I say it may or may NOT be a coincidence, because while it doesn’t seem to be a training thing, it has had the rather remarkable effect of breaking through TWooie’s “I don’t offer behaviours to stupid humans” life philosophy.  But ever since I started the hugging thing, TWoo seems to believe that I’m not totally thick, and that maybe I can, after all, learn to communicate with him.  Previous to this, I could have stood in front of him all day with a cookie and I would have gotten a “sit” – occasionally he would have stood up, wagged his tail, and sat back down again staring at the cookie, or the bait bag, or my pocket, and it could go on for literally hours.  But now he has started offering me some other stuff; he’ll try laying down, moving to the left or the right, or offering me a paw.

And just the other night, I taught him to walk a few feet away from the cookie and hop up on a footstool!  He has to actually turn his back on the cookie to do this, so it’s really a major accomplishment for TWoo and me.

He’s doing so well, I started teaching him the tunnel.

ha ha.  Just kidding.

Teach me something now!  Now!  NOW!  Must learn!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We wish you all the joy of learning to speak the language of someone you love.

But not you Max.  Shut up.


  1. Happy Merry Christmas to you too Sheena. And to all your crazy wonderful photogenic and endlessly entertaining doggle-ies.
    Looking forward to many more shenanigans…
    (and I am jealous of your vacuum…. if you find a mini climbing cobweb eating monkey, let me know)

  2. Susan Bassett says:

    Thank you for that and all your other wonderful blogs. Yay for WooTWooo!!!
    Happy Holidays!
    Susan Skye Makana and Bear the cat

  3. I’m so glad you had a good Christmas and congrats to you and Twoo! Its so nice to hear of him making progress. So I ask again… when are you changing the name of the blog? =) There have been more than 4 members of your household for quite some time now. 4 woofs and a Woo? 3 Woofs and a WooTwoo? Just a couple suggestions… haha.

  4. Janice in GA says:

    WooTwoo PHOTOBOMB!

    Happy New Year to all y’all!

  5. Max looks so familiar – like I was wanting him (so cute!)
    Did his name used to be something that started with an “s”?

  6. Nope. I’m wrong. I went to your FB rescue page. It was Simba I was thinking of and now that I looked, I see it’s not the same dog. Max is very cute!

  7. Merry Christmas to you and your furry 4 footers

    I am so glad to see that you have had a break through with Twoo, sometimes training is just thinking outside the box,

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
    Patricia, Banny, Liam & Jake from snowy & cold Edmonton

  8. Laughed until tears were present – thanks!!

  9. Merry Christmas, FL, WooTWoo et al! As I read your post, Jake, my massive border collie, was stretched out on the bed next to me. When I snorted out loud he looked at me distastefully, sighed, and rolled away so all I could see was his back. (Apparently my enjoyment of 3WaaW is not as deeply appreciated as I’d expected by my canine companion.) Though we did go tobogganing today, and apparently he enjoys that: 70 lbs of long-legged black and white border collie on a slippery, deactivated road? God bless us, every one :)

    As a Christmas splurge last year to make up for having three hairy brutes, (and my dog–my father is among the hairy brutes) my mother got a Dyson vaccuum to replace our ancient Kenmore. I love it, despite the fact that it looks suspiciously like a colourful piece of lab equipment, designed by a mad scientist…

  10. Huh. I don’t know why it *isn’t* conventional to reward them when they finally do what you are asking. Seems to me that you might have a hard time conveying what you wanted them to do if you *didn’t* reward them for finally doing it.

  11. Merry Christmas to the wootwoo gang! I’m in the reinforce-every-recall-no-matter-how-much-you-call camp too.
    West went on his first car ride (since picking him up, of course) today. No vomit, no real stress panting, got in voluntarily

  12. The Food Lady says:

    “Huh. I don’t know why it *isn’t* conventional to reward them when they finally do what you are asking. Seems to me that you might have a hard time conveying what you wanted them to do if you *didn’t* reward them for finally doing it.”

    Because the WooTWoo already knows *how* to come when called, they simply choose to disregard my request when I make it, in favour of more pressing needs (ie hunting). Conventional obedience suggests rewarding for a promptly executed command only, when the dog knows what you’re asking for, and that rewarding for being called 12 times is reinforcing a recall that involves calling them 12 times first. However, the WooTWoo seem to think that payoff is deserved always, so when I start to vary the rate of reward, they start to ignore me. If it means I travel through life with a supply of cookies, so be it!

  13. It sounds like “conventional dog training wisdom” only works on “conventional dogs.”

    Congratulations on the communication breakthroughs! What an exciting Christmas gift.

  14. Ruth Hansell says:

    Ah, yes, the old ‘go with what works’ ploy. I actually really, really like it when conventional wisdom doesn’t work, and something novel does. Experts scoffing, then being reduced to mumbling things like, ‘but that’s what they always told us’ is one of my favorite sounds.

    Good for you, and the WooTwoo as well, for using your collective noggins.

    And how sweet, the Twoo likes to hug you! Can you get a shot of him snorfling your ear with great affection?

    I love my Dyson! Enjoy your new BFF, treat him well and he’ll be with you a loooong time.


  15. I LOVE that TWooie wants you to pick him up for a hug when you come home!!!!! How adorable is that?!?

    Also, I’m jealous of your vacuum. We have a small, sleek, cordless silver vacuum (to fit in our minuscule apartment) and it looks like something from the Jetsons (we named it Rosie) but runs for about 4 minutes on a full charge. ANNOYING!!! But good ones are so darn expensive! I’ve been thinking about Craigslist, but I’m scared of getting a vacuum full of someone else’s dirt. Yuck.

  16. The Food Lady says:

    “I’ve been thinking about Craigslist, but I’m scared of getting a vacuum full of someone else’s dirt. Yuck.”

    You should be scared of getting someone else’s BEDBUGS which is exactly why I didn’t get one off of CL ;-)

  17. TWooie snorfling your ear! How sweet is that?

    Speaking of dies, Giz goes through several tricks, one of which is often dying (you know, bang-bang), in order to get his meals. He is pretty sure he’s magically cured before his head reaches the floor. He now knows “all the way” as one of his commands – you can imagine why. He is the most alert dead dog on the planet.

    Happy Holidays, FL and crew (Hi, Donut!), and a prosperous New Year!

  18. Ooops, my **dies** was edited out. I died from cute at the snorfling!

  19. Yay for new vacuums and new training breakthroughs! It sounds like an exciting weekend all around. Even though he sounds like a pain in the ass, I think I am in love with Max and his floofiness.

    Thanks for the laughs!

  20. I love Dexter’s photo leaning on you, he is adorable (insert lots of “ohhhhss” in here).

    In the WooTwoo front, I think it’s great you have found a way to “communicate” with them and it’s awesome that Twooie wants hugs and give you “smooches”. Forgive me if you already said anything before, but I haven’t read anything about Twooie having more issues with that rash he had during summer, I assume it was cause by the heat if he no longer has it.

    I’m sorry to hear Max it’s a bit “difficult” but I guess you or someone in the rescue centre can do something about it, as he is a really cute dog and looks very alert.

    Happy Christmas and at the risk of being thrown virtual tomatoes and stones via the browser and inspired by your present, I leave you a link to WebUrbanist about old adds for Christmas present. I hope you enjoy it and don’t throw anything to me via the browser.


  21. Conventional wisdom, should be abandoned in cases where it just doesn’t work. I believe that’s the corollary to the definition of insanity – doing things the same way, and expecting a different result.

    We have a modified version of the command for one is the command for both here. The new dog is soooo eager to please, she does whatever is asked of any dog in a 100 yard radius. That has varied results in larger groups.

  22. Merry Christmas Doglady and gang…and BTW does it take long to starch Dexters ears? LOL

  23. Regarding treating after calling 12 times:

    This is the secret to training American Eskimos, as far as I am concerned. I have gotten much better results with this technique than any other. After all, if they know how to come, you call, and they don’t come – what then? They aren’t punished by NOT coming when they are doing something more fun. They don’t care that they didn’t get a treat because they were busy out hunting. But if you treat them anyway when they do come, and keep doing that, eventually they will start to come more, especially if you treat them and then send them off to hunt and play some more.

    My first Eskimo was trained using conventional techniques, and they just don’t work – she always took her own sweet time to come. My mistake was not knowing enough to insist that if something wasn’t working we try another way. My current Eskies are doing great with the more rewarding methods. Believe it or not, eventually you will get to where you don’t even have to have a pocket full of cookies!

    IMO I consider Eskies very similar to BCs, but without the desire to please – they really have to do it because it pleases THEM somehow. So they are just as smart, but a lot more challenging! I still subscribe to the theory that the WooTWoo may have some Eskimo in them! Merry Christmas and Happy new year to you and your troop and all the dogs you’ve helped over the year! I look forward to enjoying your adventures in the new year :)

  24. You are cruel. How can you post something like this:

    Max wants to eat my cats, so they are curled up on the dog bed with the WooTWoo

    Without providing photos?!

    Every time you post about Twoo developing it just makes me smile so much. How that little dog’s life has turned around!

    Hope you had wonderful holidays and wishing you good luck, good health and good dogs for the new year :-)

  25. I love the photobombing WooTwoo marching in step behind Dexter!

    They have to be littermates! LOL!

    Happy New Year to you!

  26. Happy New Year, Food Lady – to you, your crew, and all the lucky dogs who have passed through TDBCR and your home. And thank you for so many wonderful posts and pictures. I do have to confess that I fear the day you post a picture of the TwoWoo when their meld is complete and they truly are one dog. I love them.

  27. Caroline & Lucie says:

    Happy New Year Sheena and crew ….

  28. Happy New Year to you and your family – two and four-legged! May 2011 be another fabulous blog year with many great new stories and pictures… :-)

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parelli Central

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