We have a visitor.

12 Jan

My parents have gone on a vacation. They are in Bonaire. They are undoubtedly enjoying tropical things — eating fish, snorkeling, relaxing on sandy beaches.


While they are gone, however, their Pembroke Welsh Corgi resides with us. He’s a beautiful dog — for a Corgi. They are one of those breeds that is pretty odd to look at until you get used to them. Loooooong back and short legs. They are big dogs in small packages. They are breed for herding cattle so they must be strong and determined but short so that kicking cows tend to miss their hard little heads. Ushki is a handsome dog. He was a show dog washout — a monochryptichord. My feeling — although I am far from a Corgi expert — is that he would have been a washout anyway. He is a big Corgi. Big, strong, muscular. A lot of that is from being a mountain dog, going on hikes regularly, and living a very active life.

There wasn't anything under the tree for me?

Evidently there are a couple of basic personality types in Corgis. Many are goofy, silly, social lovebugs. Others are dignified, disapproving, and full of a sense of their own importance. Ushki is the latter. He is also an indulged Corgi — he is pretty sure he’s a person and not a dog. My parents indulge this belief of his in many ways — they adore him and that’s a wonderful thing.

Isn't hiking, FUN, Ushki?

I, however, tend to treat dogs like dogs. When I showed Labradors, I had too many to indulge them they way I do – oh, say Ruby! I am a firm believer that dogs must know their place in the family and their place is firmly below the human members of the family — or the pack as Cesar Milan would say. So, when Ushki comes here, there is always an adjustment period where he gets used to being a dog. That said, while my stepfather loves to think that Ushki has a rough life here, Ushki is actually quite happy here. He hangs out with Greg (Cheeseman) during the day. He hangs out with me at night. He sleeps at the foot of our bed and dogs me through the house at all hours. It’s not the life he’s used to but it’s a good life. I expect him to sit for his dinner and wait until I give it to him. I expect him to go outside when I tell him to go outside. It’s a rough, rough life here. But he lives up to those expectations pretty well.

Hi there Cheeseman!

He — amazingly enough — gets along great with Ruby. Ushki is a very dominant dog and while well socialized with other dogs can have real issues with them. He used to continually dominate my Labradors and once went after my old blind, deaf 14 year old Rosie with a mean vengeance. But he finds Ruby to be a mystery. They play together sometimes, he ignores her other times. Ruby, thankfully, is not at all dominant and is an old enough puppy (1.5 years) to have pretty good manners. Ushki is absolutely the type who would feel justified in teaching a puppy a lesson it’d never forget. He doesn’t even seem to mind that he can’t get on the furniture but Ruby can. You won’t find them curled up together but they do get along for the most part.

There are a couple of things though that are problems about Ushki. The first is that he does not like children very much. If they get too close or too rowdy he will feel absolutely justified in snapping at them. You can imagine my reaction to such a move on his part. My children are very well behaved with dogs and have known Ushki all their lives — they aren’t pulling on ears or poking fingers in eyes so he can just keep his snappy comments to himself, thank you very much. 🙂 Momma Bear says, “No!” When they were babies, however, he was really cute about them. My favorite Ushki story is from the first few visits to our house when the kids were little. Ushki would hear one of them wake up from a nap and give a wail. I could not have moved fast enough for him — he literally herded me to them. You could see him thinking, “Get a move on woman! That baby is crying and you are the only one who can fix it. MOVE!” He would sleep in the hallway between all three bedrooms to make sure we were all safe at night. Now, he sleeps in our room — I guess the kids are on their own!

The other annoying thing is the barking. He firmly believes that houses are under constant threat of invasion and that it is his job to alert us to any strange noises, smells, sights, sensations from the other side, whatever. If someone should knock at the door, he barks his head off about it. If someone should ring a doorbell on TV, he barks his fool head off about it. If someone should raise their voice as if they were welcoming guests into the house, he barks his fool head off about it. Well, I live with a nearly 8 year old boy and strange noises are something we experience on a regular basis. You’ll be glad to know that I am alerted to each and every strange noise. My favorite story was yesterday. I came home from work. Ushki was standing on the other side of a glass door barking at me. He could see who it was but he felt that he should alert Greg that I was coming. Hilarious (and annoying!)

The final annoying habit is that of rolling in stinky things.  When he is hiking with my parents in the Sierra Nevada mountains, he usually rolls in dead animals.  But, evidently, he’s willing to compromise his standards. Yesterday, he rolled in poop.  Dog poop.  Lovely.  Greg said to me, “He stinks.”  I looked at him and thought, “Well, yes, when one has rolled in poop, one will stink.”  He did not enjoy the bath but he was well behaved about it.  I was kind and bathed him indoors in the tub — not outdoors with the hose.  He didn’t seem to understand how blessed he was by my kindness!

Yes, I am.

But, while Ushki wishes to be elsewhere and we wish that Ushki wouldn’t bark and could really like our children, he fits in surprisingly well. He has been particularly endearing lately. He’s been very glad to see me when I come home from work — despite barking at me as though I were a threat to national security. And, when I’ve sat down to cuddle a child or help with homework, he’s been plunking himself down next to me and leaning into me. He’s a good dog and clearly doesn’t mind being treated like a dog. 🙂


8 Responses to “We have a visitor.”

  1. robin andrea 12 January, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    You’ll have to stop by my house some time and teach me how to treat my cat like a cat. He has me wrapped around his little paw and wakes me at all hours of the night to come and give him a little pet while he munches on some kibble. Ushki sounds like an interesting critter to have around on a temporary basis. All that barking would be hard to handle after a while. We almost had a dog that was half Corgi and half Siberian husky. A handsome, but weirdly short dog. We gave him up after one night. Turns out we’re not really dog people after all. Good luck with your doggie house guest.

  2. Liza Lee Miller 12 January, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    I don’t think anyone can teach cats much of anything unless they want to learn! 🙂 Ushki is interesting and I like him just fine — as you say for the short term.

    It’s important to get a dog that is the right type for you. I am still surprised that after years with Labradors a Rat Terrier turns out to be the RIGHT dog for me. Who knew?

  3. jayne 13 January, 2008 at 5:24 am #

    It’s my fantasy to have a relationship with a dog like Cesar Milan. But, with Sam’s allergy issues, for now, I’ll just have to enjoy posts like this about your Ruby and Ushki. Glad they can get along well enough to make his visits enjoyable!

  4. Tom 13 January, 2008 at 5:47 am #

    My own corgi, although exhibiting the same intractable sense of duty about keeping us safe from anything – ANYTHING – that moves, is one of the “formers”: a goofy, silly lovebug (.). However, he does have a rather alarming penchant for the black bears which roam our realm. To see a 25 pound furry sausage streaking down the trail and flinging himself at the hindquarters of a 300 pound fleeing bruin is almost surreal, not to mention frightening if you’re the owner.

    Although, despite the potential consequences of that particular hobby, his equally rapacious obsession with rolling in their (very large, unbelievably pungent) poop may be even more alarming to those of us who have to bathe him afterwards.

    Loved your story and pics! Thanks for the laughs 🙂

  5. Miz S 13 January, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    I LOVE corgis! He is adorable. And it sounds as though he is resigned to living a dog’s life until your parents come back.

  6. Liza Lee Miller 13 January, 2008 at 10:34 am #

    Ushki normally lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains and has chased a black bear or two in his day.

  7. mary 13 January, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Ushki is a dog with a job to do and he does it well. And, he is smart enough to know who is the alpha in the house – YOU. I think dogs appreciate knowing exactly where they are on the totem pole. They need to know it!

    My daughters’ two – Mr. Biggins and Bam Bam have been deciding lately who is the dominant. For a few months, Gina broke up the fights. Then she did some reading, like the Dog Whisperer, and learned to let them fight until one of them succumbs. Dogs handle it themselves. Very well. We thought Bam-Bam was the dominant one for a long time since Mr. Biggins is such a sissy dog but now we see Bam backs down.

    Great post, Liza! Ruby has a guy friend!

  8. mon@rch 13 January, 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    What a cute dog and sure sounds like an interesting time! It is amazing what an additional animal can change everything! I bet you can’t wait for them to return!

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