They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. What words come to mind when you view this photograph? Maybe . . . sweet, cuddly, fluffy, attentive and well-behaved . . . cute, obedient, well-trained?
I thought it would be “nice” (another one of those words) to take a picture of our schnauzer girls in front of the tree. It’s been raining and the snow is melting into a mud bog in their yard. They would have to be bathed. I captured Toto after a short pursuit, carried her into the bathroom and set her in the tub. As I was adjusting the water temperature out she jumped and, of course, shook muddy water all over the tub, the vanity, the previously clean towels . . . and me. She was unable to out maneuver me in the small confines of the bathroom and I returned her to tub. I stoked my motivation with a pep-talk, reminding myself how much better this was than the recent skunk episode. Now it was time to lather . . . rinse . . . and repeat. She was really slippery after the lathering and escaped before the rinse. After a sudsy shake I manged to get her back in the tub for the rinse, and said to hell with the repeat. I wrapped her in a wet towel and tried to begin the drying process. She thought this was a wonderful wrestling game wiggling, jumping and barking the whole time. Finally, it was time to open the door and let her out. Without hesitation, she dashed from one end of the house to the other rubbing up against any and every soft surface she could find . . . such fun!!!
I allowed myself only a brief moment of self-congratulations. I was only halfway home. Izzy (the smart one) had quickly sized up the situation and established a defensive position behind Lynne’s recliner in the livingroom. I went left . . . she went right. I stopped . . . she stopped. Then, in a flash of brilliance, I remembered the “chase instinct”. I did a 180 and ran toward the kitchen. Sure enough, Izzy was right on my heels. I did a quick pivot and drop, and she skidded on the kitchen floor right into my arms. I scooped her up and carried her, snarling in protest, to the tub. She seemed more resigned to her fate than Toto, and allowed the lather, rinse repeat without incident. The toweling dry was another writhing wrestling contest . . . the drier she got . . . the wetter I got. She escaped and did her own rub-a-dub-dub all over the house with Toto joining the fun. Terrier owners are familiar with the term “FRAP” . . . Frantic Random Activity Period. We now had two schnauzers frapping from one end of the house to the other. Thank goodness my job was done . . . oh wait . . . this was all part of a plan to take a Christmas photo.
I called for back-up, and Lynne joined me as my assistant for the shoot. First we had to lure them to the tree in the living room, but after the bath experience they weren’t having any part of it. I had a flashback to puppy kindergarten and canine good citizen classes (which are all about training humans). We needed a bait pouch. I loaded my pockets with treats and set up the camera. Lynne was doing a great sheltie routine herding them down the hall into the photo studio living room. “SIT” I barked in my best command voice. They immediately stopped and looked at me. Lynne responded to my command and collapsed in the recliner.
The girls knew that a firm command was often followed by a tasty reward . . . so after some hesitation they reluctantly sat on their haunches to see what would happen. I rewarded them with glowing praise . . . and a tasty treat. They allowed me to position them in front of the tree, and I again ordered them to sit. Again I rewarded them and moved to the camera . . . and they followed me. Reposition . . .”SIT” . . . reward . . . camera . . . follow . . . Reposition . . .”SIT” . . . reward . . . camera . . . follow . . . This was not working. I decided to set up the camera and give Lynne a quick tutorial. I set shutter speed, aperture, automatic exposure bracketing and handed her the camera. “Don’t worry if you get me in the shot”, I said, “I’ll crop it out after.”
I had envisioned them looking directly into the camera lens, but 42 shots later this was the best of the batch. When I suggested we reshoot, Lynne gave me a look that was worth a thousand words (none of them terms of endearment). “Okay”, I said, “We’ll go with this one.”
“And now you know”, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”
Merry Christmas Everybody.