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Posted on Dec 8, 2014

The Canine Saboteurs

This post is for all the dog-owners out there (cats are a whole other can of crazy and we will ignore them for now …. which is really how they prefer it 99% of the time, anyway).

Do you ever feel like your dogs are trying to sabotage you?

I have the sneaking suspicion that at least one of my dogs (if not more) is plotting something at any given time. Even when they’re sleeping.

For the most part, I think my dogs are the greatest/cutest/sweetest/most innocent little four-legged creatures to walk the planet.

And then sometimes, I think they are the most devious little geniuses.

Take today, for example. I wanted to take some Christmas photos of them to put in our Christmas card. My dogs are so used to me snapping away with my camera that it doesn’t phase them one bit, and typically, they do pretty much whatever I ask (maybe not for as long as I ask but hey, they try.) Join me, won’t you, for our fun-filled photo session?

I drape a blanket over our ottoman and position it strategically in front of our tree, ready to crank out these photos quickly.

First up, we have Ella. Bless her heart, she’s the youngest and while she is certainly whip-smart – she hasn’t quite figured out how to play the game just yet. I ask her to lay down, she does. I take her adorable photo, she gets a treat. We’re done. Wham bam, thank you ma’m.


Next up, we have Wally. Wally is more cunning than Ella (at least for now). I ask him to sit. He sits for approximately 3 milliseconds. He then pops back up, looking for his treat. I ask him to sit again, he sits, and I give him a treat to reinforce the sitting. I snap a photo but I’d really like a different angle. All of 1 second has elapsed and Wally has jumped off the ottoman. I ask Wally to get back up on the ottoman and sit down. He stares at me blankly as if I’m asking him to jump over the moon. I sigh and pull a treat out of my pocket, then ask him to sit. His little beagle butt promptly sits down, I click the shutter, and he gets his treat. Unfortunately, at the precise moment I click the shutter, Ella catches on and decides that treat is meant to be hers. She beagle-bombs the photo.



Repeat all of this about 13 times until finally, holding Ella back with my free arm, I’m able to get a quick shot off.


Eager for her turn, we now have Sasha. I tie a little Santa hat on Sasha and ask her to lay down on the ottoman. Sasha is easily our most obedient and generally well-behaved dog. Her method of subtle rebellion is all in her ears. Yes, her ears. You see, Sasha has total control over how she holds her ears. When she holds them normally, they are perfect hound ears and she is a truly beautiful dog. But other times, she decides to look like an extra cast member of Dumb & Dumber and holds them out in the weirdest, most unflattering way. It took me a long time to figure it out but I have now come to the realization that she does this on purpose for photos. She knows that I will wait and wait and wait for the perfect pose, all the time bribing her with treats.


I naively switch out her santa hat for a scarf, thinking maybe she just doesn’t like the hat.Ha.


She throws in a few ‘I’m bored so I’m getting up’ maneuvers and manages to score more treats for laying back down.


And of course, the classic looking anywhere but the camera move.


She’s a genius.

What she doesn’t count on today is that I will be so frustrated by the two beagles trying to steal treats out of my pocket that I accept that her ears will just have to look weird. I can almost see the shock on her face when I ask her to get off the ottoman.


Next, we have Annie. Her method of sabotage is different. She obeys immediately and lays down on the ottoman. She gets a treat. I turn around to grab my camera, fending off the greedy noses trying to get to my pocket of treats. Like a flash, Annie jumps off the ottoman and runs into the hallway, peering around the corner suspiciously. She is playing her ‘rescued shelter dog’ card – the one that implies that even though she has lived with us for over a year, enjoying a pampered and comfortable life, she is obviously being lured into some malevolent trap on that ottoman. The card that says, ‘I don’t trust you on this, Mom, so earn my trust …with treats.’


Well-played, Annie, well-played. I, of course, do exactly that, and we get a photo.


Finally, we have Sawyer. Sawyer is the most devious of them all. He has been with us the longest and has carefully refined his ability to ruin photos.


You may think I’m harsh but this dog knows exactly what he is doing. Whether he is yawning, squeezing his eyes shut or, his preferred modus operandi, looking as utterly pathetic as possible, he knows exactly how to take a terrible photo.




If I ask him to sit up, he lays down. If I ask him to lay down, he sits up. He looks hopelessly awkward. I think to myself, my goodness, has this dog forgotten everything he’s learned in his entire life?? And why does he look like so darn sad? Is he hoping that other people will see his pathetic state and send him care packages of dog biscuits and toys? He looks so handsome in person and I am determined to get a good photo of him. So, I treat him as if he is starting from scratch and he ‘learns’ how to sit and stay all over again, all the while eating up treats he gets for positive reinforcement.

We both know that he already knows all of this and has outsmarted me. Sigh.


I finally accept defeat, settling for a photo where Sawyer at least doesn’t look like he’s Harry Potter and I’m Uncle Vernon relegating him to his tiny little cupboard under the stairs.

Sasha immediately jumps back onto the ottoman as soon as Sawyer gets off, sitting just as pretty as can be.

Nice try, I tell her, but it’s not going to work this time.

And then, because we both know how this ends, I take the picture.


I laugh, tails wag, and the dogs discreetly tick off another win.

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