I'm getting a portrait of Chelsie done for Rob for Yule (from the talented & awesome Moonvoice, of course). It has me thinking about her enough to realize I haven't written about her much.
Chelsie is a Catahoula Leopard dog mix, and she's just over 2 years old. Since we adopted her from an animal shelter, we don't know her exact DOB, only that she was about 4 - 5 months old at the time. We don't know exactly what she's mixed with, either, but the shape of her head, her lines & size make me & Rob think greyhound is probably the most likely candidate. We ought to get her DNA tested, just to find out, but a part of me worries that if we find out she's part pit bull it'll make me like her less.
I've been around dogs pretty much all my life. All the dogs I've known have had character, all of them have had weird little quirks & unique personalities, but Chelsie is without a doubt the biggest character of any dog I've known. Most websites that talk about Catahoulas emphasize that they are working dogs
. They've been used for hog & bear baiting, treeing 'coons (they can climb trees) & working cattle and other livestock. They're a feisty, active and intelligent breed who need lots of space and 'something to do'. Chelsie is a pampered house dog. I've worked with her on 'sit', 'lay down', 'shake' & 'high five', and she's housebroken, but that's about it. Her primary job, if any, is to keep Rob somewhat saner than if he was stuck in the house all alone all day while I'm at work. Chelsie's been excellent at that because she doesn't want to be left alone. She can't entertain herself for very long unless food is involved. She needs to be engaged, given attention and has to play with someone. She still acts like a puppy, even though she's a little over two. Most sites say that Catahoulas mature quickly & act like grown dogs before they're out of traditional puppyhood - but Chelsie is definitely not. She's still a big baby.
She needs routine in her life & doesn't do well with unexpected change. We have a dinner routine & a bedtime routine. The bedtime routine's been disrupted since I switched from days to graves, and as a result, the poor dog's been sleeping about 18 hours a day. At 'official' household bedtime, I turn off my computer & the 'ding' of Windows shutting down alerts Chelsie that it's bedtime and she goes out. Rob sets up the coffee pot for when we wake up, we both get cleaned up - brushing teeth, washing faces, going to the bathroom, shaking out bedding. When we're done, Chelsie comes in and gets to pick a rawhide chip from the baggy (it makes her deliriously happy to pick her own chewy chip). Rob lays down w/me & Chelsie starts out w/her chip on her blanket on my bedroom floor. When she's done with it, she jumps on the bed to inspect me & Rob. She jumps off & does a round of the house. She comes back, jumps on the bed for goodnight kisses & jumps back off. She goes into the kitchen to her food bowl, gets a mouthful of food, brings it back into my bedroom, spits it out onto her blanket & eats it piece by piece. She does this like, three or four times before she stays in the kitchen to finish her food. Finally she comes back in, jumps on the bed & lays down. If her second blanket isn't set up on the foot of my bed, she will pull it into place & lay on it. I tell Rob every night is a three-dog night because she gets on the bed three times, every night/morning/whatever bedtime is.
At dinnertime, I set up plates for Rob & myself, and we get the tables set up for eating. Right before I sit down, I give Chelsie a little bit of whatever we're having. If it's something like chicken, she will bring it into the living room piece by piece to eat it. It cracks me up every single time because she does it with her dogfood, too. She's like a hamster or something - stores food in her cheeks for later. If I pick up the pieces & throw them back in her bowl, she'll go get them out again & it starts all over. I'm not about to put her food dishes on the carpet, and mats don't work because she'll chew them or drag them around, so the dishes are as close to the living room as the tiled entryway allows, but she still wants to eat in the same room with me & Rob. She is very good while we're eating, but when the plates are empty & the tables get pushed back, she wants her second helping & will sit and grumble at me until I get up and give it to her. If I ignore her grumbles, she will sit on the couch next to me and put her paw on my arm softly, as if to say, "Please feed me for I am starving to death and wasting away and barely have the strength to lift a paw".
If she's acting like she wants to go out, but really doesn't, when I open the door & ask if she wants out, she runs over to the couch & hops up on her spot. If I persist, by walking towards her, she starts pinning her ears back & waving at me with one paw, like, "please, don't make me go out there!" If I reach for her collar, I get the full-on submissive belly-up roll. Sometimes, if I'm on the couch next to Rob watching Netflix or reading or whatever, she'll act like she wants to go out, and once I get up she runs over & gets into the place where I was sitting. Chelsie has also named me & Rob. Rob is 'hrumph' and I am 'hrumph-hrumph'. If she wants to get my attention, she sits behind me & starts making her 'hrumph-hrumph' noise. It's also how she wakes me up if she needs to go out - standing by my bed with her nose in my face saying, "hrumph-hrumph!" For Rob, since we have separate bedrooms and he keeps a gate in front of his room because he doesn't want to be startled by Chelsie in the middle of the day/night, she will stand at his gate & call to him, soft at first & then louder if he doesn't wake up.
She is a paw-y dog. I can see her working heritage in that. When we play she will hook an ankle with her paw to bring her prey down, and both Rob & I have suffered because of that. She also opens doors & drawers, grabs arms and hands & uses her fifth toe to grasp things as thumb-like as dogly possible. She holds things in her paws to chew on them or inspect them. If Rob & I are holding hands, she will use her nose and paws to pull our hands apart, like we're hiding something from her. If I lay on the floor, belly down, and hide my face in my arms or hands, she will use her paws to move my hands and try to roll me over. If she can't get me to move successfully with her paws, she'll grab my hand in her mouth & try to roll me over that way. I don't know if she thinks I'm in distress or if I'm hiding things in my arms. She just doesn't appreciate me laying face down on the floor & will stop at nothing to get me to move. She treats Rob the same way, which is why he won't lay down on the floor anymore. When she plays, she does this thing where she'll act like she's about to lay down or roll over, with her head on the floor & her butt in the air, and she'll push herself after your feet or toes. I've tried to get photos of her doing it, but she sees the camera come out & runs.
With Rob, she's usually just attached to his hip. Her latest game is to sit on the couch next to him & stare at him until he gives her a dog biscuit. They also play 'lazy man's fetch', where he tosses a ball into the air over her head, she catches it & hands it back to him. It takes place in an area about 2'sq, right in front of Rob's spot on the couch. That's why it's 'lazy man's fetch' - no one has to move, unless Rob mis-throws the ball & it ends up in No Dog's Land, which is anywhere near cables or the bookshelf. She's pretty athletic, though - she'll jump her own bodylength into the air to catch the ball. Rob wears these fitted bandana caps (I always called 'em 'Do-Rags' but whatever) & Chelsie will go to great effort to try and snatch them off Rob's head. She's not a big fan of his long hair, either - if he has a ponytail in, she'll try to snatch that off his head, and she pulls his bangs out of it a few strands at a time.
It's not so much the things she does as it is her overall personality. She's a complete clown & we're completely puppy-whipped.