Tessa and Cody came into our lives in April of 2007. They were the cutest little fluff balls you ever did see. Tessa was this sweet, perky little number, always ready to go and Cody was a sleepy, relaxed number who had to be carried home on walks because because he would just lay down in the middle of the road, too tired to put another paw in front of him.
Tessa was the model dog, loved being with people and taught Cody a thing or two about obedience. That is, until her teenage years struck. All day, everyday, you could call Tessa and she would promptly come. And then twilight would strike. And something would click off in her. And she would become the devil dog.
Not that she did anything bad. It’s just that she wouldn’t come. You could call her until you were hoarse to no avail. She had a thousands things on her mind and listening to you was not one of them. This caused somewhat of a problem. My family is pretty easy going and so we didn’t take the proper action to get Tessa inside before twilight struck. We’d just hope that the evening would go better than the previous. Not the best plan of action.
The area behind the Ranch is a perfect place for a dog to roam and explore and let me tell you, did Tessa ever roam and explore. We’d hear her bark way off in the distance as we ate dinner or visited in the family room and would look at each other and groan. When it was time for bed, Dad and I would equip ourselves with a leash and spotlight and go out for a hike. We would walk, sometimes for up to a mile, just following Tessa. She’d be about 30 yards ahead of us and she’d occasionally pause and look back to see if we were still there and then continue on as we hoarsely called her. And then, her will would break, and she’d turn around and trot meekly over to Dad and I. And we would hike the mile back home. It was seriously the strangest thing.
As you can see, these excursions didn’t wear just the humans out. (Davey you were so cute).
In an effort to break her of this habit, I spent many an evening with her out on an extremely long rope and we’d wander all over. I’d let her get as far away from me as she could, then call her. And she’d promptly come. But the second I let her off the rope was the last second I saw her.
When the evenings ran too late and we couldn’t even hear her bark, we’d all just go to bed and hope for the best. The best didn’t happen too often. At around 2 in the morning, dad would page my room. ‘Kelsey, your dumb dog is out there barking her head off. Come down and try to get her.’ I’d groan and pull on some clothes and stumble down the stairs to meet dad in the courtyard.
Tessa loves to be around action- particularly action that involves balls. She doesn’t necessarily like to catch them but if she can be right next to you as you throw them, she does this crazy little back flip. So at 2 in the morning, Dad and I would be outside on the lawn playing volleyball. Bump, set, spike. Bump, set, spike. Over and over again. Then Dad would mutter, ‘Kelsey, she’s on your left.’ And then we’d continue to play bump, set, spike, to show that this wasn’t an attempt to trick her, we were merely playing a nice game, until she was close enough to pounce. Then one of us would pounce, and off to bed we finally all would go.
If volleyball wasn’t working, we’d try golf. We had a little set-up where you could tee off in the courtyard and aim for a flag in the left rear. Tessa loves golf. She likes to be as close the club as possible (which has earned her a black eye) and then does a back flip as soon as you swing. So over and over again, Dad would hit golf balls and I would hide in the shadows waiting to pounce on her.
We finally learned that if you just got in the crusher and went cruising down the back 40, she’d come right to the car and hop in. We couldn’t believe the simple solution and shook our heads at all the effort previously taken. Lots of good quality father-daughter time though.
Tessa has been trained with the electronic collar and is no longer a devil dog at any time of day. All you say now is ‘Tessa, its time to go to bed!’ and she runs to her kennel. It truly is amazing to see the difference in her. And while we may not have fully appreciated the humor of playing volleyball out on a frozen lawn at 2 in the morning, we do now and the laughs we share now about capturing the devil dog are too priceless.