Murphy just met the UPS man again today. This time, we were in a back room when I heard the UPS truck's horn. I acted all excited, and Murphy picked up on it, first with a curious "Wurf?", and then with some serious barking as we ran to the front of the house and he saw the truck down at the road and the driver walking up the hill to the house. "Good boy! Go get!" I let him out on the deck, and he ran to the rail, thrust his head through, and began barking loudly at the driver. I gave him some praise and once Murphy realized that he was supposed to bark at people in the yard, he really got into it. So enthusiastic was he that he was actually somewhat of a hindrance as the driver tried to hand me a package through the rails without getting nipped. And to his credit, Murphy was really trying to get at him. I'm just glad that he didn't realize that ten feet to his left, there was nothing blocking him from the steps but a couple of deck chairs and a cheap baby gate.
And as the UPS man gave me the box, he paid Murphy a great compliment indeed.
"Wow, I thought that this one was going to be all nice, but he's turning out to be as mean as that last one." By "the last one," he, of course, meant Lagniappe.
I laughed and told him that Lagniappe was a friendly dog when he was off the deck and out on the street, and that this one would be, too. The driver looked at Murphy, head jammed through the deck rail, hair up on his neck and teeth bared as he barked furiously. "I don't know..." he said. "I hope I never have to find out."
Murphy got more praise and a cookie. Hopefully he'll be as discriminating as Lagniappe was, ignoring anyone down on the street but warning anyone coming closer and taking more direct action against anyone who ignores the warnings and attempts to gain entry into the Lair. Realistically, that's why he's here and that's his job--to alert me to visitors when I'm here and to deal with intruders when I'm not, without getting excessive, of course. And I like what I saw today. I'm as proud as the father of a Little Leaguer who just saw his kid hit a bases-loaded home run. He's still got a lot to learn, though. But he's getting there and making real progress. And as I write this, he's now running around the house with a big strip of bubble wrap that came wrapped around the M60 barrel assembly that was in the box. He's loving that bubble wrap. Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
He's coming along well in other areas, too, although he is developing a few harmless quirks. He's fascinated with my leg, and when I go to put on, he's not above grabbing at the liner, sock, or the leg itself, trying to get them from me. It's cute, but he's earning raps on the nose every time he does it and I'm waiting for the day that he dares to try to run off with it. I've told him that he's not too big to fit in PetCo's night-deposit box for adoptable pets, but I'm not sure he buys it.
He's also acquired a fondness for beer bottles, it seems. Three times now, I've caught him walking around with one in his mouth, or lying on the floor peeling the label off one. So why exactly did I spend all that cash on high-end pet toys? It seems that he's just as happy with bubble wrap and the odd beer bottle.
We're also working on his habit of bum-rushing me when I open the door to leave without taking him with me. He wants to accompany me so badly whenever I leave, that if I'm not quick at the top of the stairs, he's past me and dancing around down in the basement by the walk-out door in a second. Then I have to chase him back upstairs and shut the door on him to cut off the anguished cry of abandonment that often follows. Now he's learning to sit at the top of the stairs as I open the door. I have some treats there, and if he waits nicely, I will either summon him to come with (depending on where I'm going), or reward him with a treat and some praise. And agian, he's getting it. When I summon him to join me, he races downstairs to the door and he often grabs his leash from where I put it and brings it to me. I did NOT teach him that, but it still makes me laugh every time he does it. Smart dog.
He's doing so well and he fits in so nicely that it'd hard to believe that he's only been here a month and a day. I think I'll keep him.
Here! Trade ya this $20 aardvark for some bubble wrap!