Crawling for beginners

Pippin, the cat, still keeps telling me that he isn’t speaking to me after the tale I told recently. I pointed out to him that every time he tells me that, he is in fact speaking to me – he wasn’t amused! He said that I should be doing some crawling if I want to get back into his good books.

I know he meant it in the sense of being extra nice to him and not literally, but it reminded me that I have found it very useful at times to be able to crawl. I’ve already told you about being able to crawl through the dog gates at the side of some stiles.

I’ve been meaning to explain how I learnt to crawl. I said it was quite easy, but when I thought about explaining it I realised that it was only easy once I had the idea that my biped wanted me to shuffle forwards without getting up. It was then a case of doing a tiny bit more each time for the treat, but getting started was a little harder.

My biped asked a trainer for tips on how to teach me to crawl when I was still a puppy. The advice was for her to sit on the floor with her knees raised while I was in the down position.

Stick figure seated on floor

Like this, but both knees raised

She was told to hold a treat under her knees just out of my reach. There were only two problems with this! I was already too large to wriggle under her knees without knocking her over. And it was still tricky to be on the floor with me because I didn’t yet have the good manners that I have now! My biped tried a couple of times, but it was a failure and she decided to wait a while.

We had lots of short training sessions and I learnt lots of new tricks. One of my favourites was taking a treat when told! We also fitted in all the things I found boring, such as the “down” position.

Sphinx of Hetepheres

A sphinx demonstrating the classic “down” position
Attribution: By Jon Bodsworth [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

She would often bend over me and touch my shoulders or my back. If I kept still I would get extra treats, but if I tried to turn it into a game by grabbing her sleeve she would take her arm away and ask me to do something else.

A few months later she did start getting on the floor with me again when I was in the “down” position. She would offer me a treat but it would be just out of reach!

Cartoon dog and bone

Down with a treat just out of reach

My first reaction was to get up to get it, but that wasn’t what she wanted – I didn’t get the treat. She would put her hand on me when she saw me about to get up. We had a number of sessions where I was trying to understand. It can be quite frustrating as a dog when you want that treat and can’t figure out what to do to get it! My biped must have been watching my body language quite carefully because as soon as I started to get frustrated she would ask me to do some easy and fun things – guaranteed treats!

The day I decided to shuffle forwards a fraction to get the treat, I hit the jackpot! After I’d eaten the treat I was given a few more. She told me how clever I was and we had a game of football – that’s my favourite game!

From then on I was keen to shuffle forwards. She gradually expected me to move a little bit farther and added the word “crawl”. It wasn’t long before I could crawl a few feet. She would stand close to me when I was crawling to encourage me. Some dogs may find it intimidating to have someone standing over them and may need to practise together to feel relaxed before trying to learn to crawl.

It isn’t difficult to crawl – the hard part is understanding what the bipeds want, but that is so often the case!

See you next Wednesday!

Indecision

The female biped went shopping and left me at home with the cats. When she got back I heard her stop the car in the lane as near to the front door as she could. The only building beyond us is a farmer’s barn and he hardly ever uses it. A moment later she came in the door with bags of shopping. She told me to wait to greet her as she had some more bags to fetch before moving the car. Then we heard a lorry outside. She groaned and just put the bags down on the floor and hurried out to move the car.

The biped reappeared a couple of minutes later with more bags of shopping. During her absence Pippin had woken up and found the bag of meat. The handles were tied together, but he had made a neat slit in it with his claws and was trying to pull out a package of meat. I was standing there, unsure what to do. I knew he shouldn’t be doing that, but the meat did smell very tempting!

Pippin, the cat, looking innocent

Pippin, trying to look innocent!

The biped said, “Pippin, no!”

But Pippin didn’t stop, he started tugging harder on the package. The biped put the bags down and went across to Pippin. He was very naughty, he still didn’t stop. She took the meat from Pippin and went into the kitchen and put it on the work top, but Pippin followed her and jumped up. She told him to get down, but he wasn’t listening – she had to pick him up and carry him away and put him in another room and close the door.

She came back and said, “You are so good, Clowie! I didn’t mean to leave something so tempting right in front of you. I think you deserve a treat or two, before I check what damage Pippin has done.”

She gave me some treats and made a big fuss of me, then she put the shopping away. After that, she let Pippin out of the room she’d closed him in. He looked around to see if there was any meat left out – he has no shame! The biped gave me some more treats and we had a game together.

I never steal food, but they don’t make a habit of leaving tempting things where I can get them. I hesitated and the opportunity was gone. I’m still not sure what I should do if I get a chance like that again, so I thought I’d ask my friends for advice. I’ve set up a poll with some options and I’d be pleased to hear your ideas in the comments.

Other news

Oscar from My Three Moggies  has been injured in a fight. The good news is that he has been patched up and is at home again, recovering from his ordeal. He’s receiving lots of love and tuna, but I’m sure he’d like some visitors.

I received a parcel yesterday from Easy. I was one of the winners of a contest on his blog. There was a toy for me and treats. He even put in some treats for my cats! Wasn’t that thoughtful of him? Thank you, Easy! I don’t have any pictures yet. If you don’t know Easy, be sure to pay him a visit. There’s always something entertaining and amusing going on at his place.

See you next Wednesday!

The chair scare

Mulberry, the cat, likes to take some exercise most days. He runs as fast as he can in one direction, when he runs out of room he jumps and spins and runs in another direction. When he’s feeling adventurous he likes to pretend he’s a ninja cat and he bounces against something to change direction.

Mulberry, Persian cat

Mulberry, relaxing in the doorway to the terrace

There used to be some plastic garden chairs left on the terrace and he would sometimes bounce off those. Then one day he discovered that if he jumped against the back of the chair he could knock it over. He thought that was great fun!

He played this a few times and then one day we heard a chair fall over and then there was a terrible wailing noise. I have never heard such a loud noise come from a cat! I leapt to my paws to go and see what was wrong. The female biped hurried out onto the terrace and I followed her.

She went across to where Mulberry appeared to be fighting a chair. She spoke to him in a soothing voice to tell him she was there and then she bent down and held him by the shoulders, saying, “Keep still!”

plastic garden chair

The villain

Mulberry stopped struggling and he turned the volume down a little. His leg was caught in one of the gaps in the back of the chair. The biped felt his leg and tried to slide it up to where the gap was wider, but that made Mulberry wail very loudly again so she stopped.

The male biped had been getting the car out, but he’d heard the racket that Mulberry was making and returned.

“What’s that noise? What’s happened?” he wanted to know.

The female biped explained that Mulberry’s leg was stuck and how she’d tried to move it, but she was worried about harming Mulberry. He nodded and started pushing and pulling at the back of one of the other chairs. I waited a moment. He must surely see his mistake! He didn’t, so I nudged him gently to get his attention and looked towards the chair that was the problem.

He patted me and said, “Thank you, Clowie. Do you think I should try this on Mulberry’s chair?”

He told the other biped that he was going to flex one slat forwards and one slat back and she should try to slide Mulberry’s leg again. Mulberry gave one of his loudest wails, but his leg was free! The biped held onto him, looked at his leg, and then put him down gently. He disappeared as fast as his legs would carry him!

The male biped said, “He’s using all four legs, I think that’s a good sign!”

They left Mulberry to calm down for a little while and then rattled the treat container and called him. He was pleased to get a cuddle and the bipeds checked his leg more thoroughly. The chair had done Mulberry no real harm.

The bipeds made up a little song that they kept singing for weeks.

A cat is stuck!
Where?
There in the chair!
Where in the chair?
Right there!
A cat who wails so loud
Well I declare!
Wailing and wailing, he’s stuck in the chair
Oh yeah

They took inspiration from the chorus of this song. It’s the sort of tune that sticks in your head for the day!

Mulberry wouldn’t go near those garden chairs after that, but he isn’t scared of any other chairs!

Mulberry, Persian cat on footstool

These chairs are much safer!

See you next Wednesday!

Throwing in the towel

Pippin, our cat, needed to take some tablets recently. He had to take one in the morning and one in the evening for a week. The biped would put him on the table and open his mouth and pop the tablet in and hold him until he swallowed it. Pippin was very good about this for three days.

Pippin on the terrace at home

Pippin on the terrace at home

But on the fourth day he decided he was feeling better and didn’t need to take any more medication. When the biped put him on the table and opened his mouth, he put a front paw up with all the claws out so that the biped couldn’t get the tablet to his mouth. She pushed his paw down and tried again. One of his back paws came round with all the claws out! It’s amazing how flexible a cat’s legs are!

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Slip sliding away

Before I tell you today’s tale, I have a couple of things to share with you. My friend Basil, in North Yorkshire, England, is looking for a home for a young cat. Over at Doggy’s Style they are concerned for a man who is missing, he is from Santander, Spain. Update: Good news – the missing man has been found alive.

Now for my tale:

It was a lovely day and we went to a spot by a very pretty mountain stream that we’ve been to quite often. The bipeds were having a picnic and I was enjoying splashing about in the stream. We were near waterfalls that have worn the rock into all sorts of strange shapes and there are lots of pools. The stream wasn’t as wide as usual as it was near the end of summer and there hadn’t been much rain for a while. There was a deep pool at the side of the stream that had very slippery rock all the way around it. It had become stagnant as the stream wasn’t flowing into it.

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