Chapter 27
(October 2007):

The On-/Off Switch

Do you know what makes me tick? Starts my motor? Shuts me down?

Well, my humans have got my number now.

The “on” switch: I was watching Daddy make supper as usual, when he called Mummy, who had been ironing in front of the TV. Sliding onto her bench, she asked if Daddy remembered “Hogan’s Heroes” and to prove that he did, he barked, “Schulz!” I shot straight into the air, flew through the hall and the living-room and frantically clawed at the patio door, tore into the yard and did a security check, barking loudly to disperse the burglars, especially feline intruders. Since then my “on” switch is activated by any sh, ch, ss or tz spoken or whispered sharply like a POW camp Kommandant.

The “off” switch: For years I was the terror of the motorized community, going ballistic with Wheaten Whirls and maniacal, eardrum-breaking barking any time someone opened the car door to get in or out, until everyone was in with the doors closed. I even began whenever the car slowed down or approached its destination (see GPS). They consulted expert dog trainers, who suggested a crate in the back of the station wagon, covered with a blanket. Besides investing in a crate without knowing whether it would be the cure (see GPS), my folks didn’t really want to spoil my enjoyment of watching where we’re going and greeting dogs passing by. They tried rewarding any moment of silence, tossing cookies, most of which never made it through the barricade behind the back seat. Result: a back seat full of dog food. They bought a big water pistol. Result: a back seat full of wet dog food. Eardrums and nervous systems were still in danger.

One “happy” day Mummy happened to threaten with the Sh…. – word, referring to a wet torture cell in the bathroom, where water comes out of a telephone receiver. I clamped my jaws shut with a snap, stuck my tail between my legs and tried to hide in the corner. (Yes, you’re right; I am the dog that recognizes when her feet are dirty after a walk and heads straight for the Sh…, pushing the door open and jumping in to wait for the torture act.)

Three words can now be used to correct any undesired behaviour: Shower, Dusche (the German equivalent) and Dirty. The mad screeching in the back of the station wagon now belongs to days of yore. If I should happen to forget, one stern look or a little sh… is enough to switch my “off” button.

GPS: They first discovered I had GPS on our 2nd trip to Denmark. The moment we left the highway and turned west towards the coast, I was up and whirling in the back, all the way to our destination. Even after 2-3 hours of walking on the beach I could also show them which of the dunes would lead us back to our rented holiday house. Next it was on the way to Grandma’s in Bremen; even if I was asleep in the back, I knew when it was time to wake up and cheer for cookies as we turned into her street. Daddy got Mummy a navigator this spring and said, “This is for trips when Gráinne isn’t along.”

Memory: We hadn’t been to Denmark for several years what with other vacation plans. This year they decided it was my turn to choose again and of course I chose 40 miles of beach to run off leash on. First night we were here we did the 7-minute walk across the dunes from our lovely, light, thatched-roof cottage down to the Beach. I knew exactly where we were. Waves! Dunes! Run! They threw a stick into the smaller waves for me (I didn’t have my life jacket on) and I knew exactly what sport I had invented the first time in Denmark: duning. I grab the stick out of the waves, always keeping an eye out that a bigger one isn’t going to whop me in the face, trot off all the way across the beach to the dunes, looking back to make sure they’re still watching, scale the 30-ft. dunes, checking again and again that I am the center of attention) and disappear at the top to hide the stick in the tall grass. Every now and then I let them see the top  of my head so that they don’t come hunting for me. Then, mission accomplished, I shoot down one of the sandy chutes between the dunes, loping back across the beach and land at their feet for a treat.

Speaking of treats, Daddy found the best ones ever. He used to buy me Laksbøller (salmon cookies) here in Denmark, but they aren’t made any more. So he found salmon crunch. Now I tell you: that’s worth a special trip to Denmark!

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