Oh, the Things You’ll Chomp!

Ophelia loves to learn. Here she is excited to work on jumping through the hoop. (Photo by Monica Waterston)

Last night, Ophelia “graduated” from her Shy Dog class at the Hollywood Zoom Room last night, and I couldn’t be more proud of her and all the progress she’s made.  Going to her class at the Zoom Room, plus the work we’ve done with our personal trainer, the fantastic Rebecca Setler, has made such a huge difference for her.  When I first got Ophelia, I read that it takes about 3 months for a rescue dog to really settle in and get comfortable enough to let their true personality show.  We’re about 5 months in now, and I feel like I’m only just now starting to see the true (and awesome) Ophelia.

Of course there’s an adjustment phase for any dog, but I think for Ophelia, it’s not just that she’s getting to know me and be more comfortable here at my place, but that she’s getting to know herself, in some ways.  I have no idea what her life was like when she lived in Taiwan, except that she was abused pretty badly.  It makes me so sad to think about the picture of her on the day that her old owner broke her femur so badly it required a metal plate that is still in there to this day.  The image is forever burned in my mind, and it just breaks my heart to think of some horrible person treating such a beautiful, intelligent, and special animal like that.  I feel so lucky every morning when she wakes me up (even if it is an ungodly early hour), or when I get home and she makes turkey noises because she’s so happy to see me, or when she gets excited and chomps.  I can’t comprehend how someone could have such an incredible dog and not feel so honored that they have the best, smartest, sweetest dog, much less beat the shit her.

In any case, now that she’s in a safe and happy home, Ophelia is developing quite the personality.  Here are some of my favorite things about Ophelia:

  1. Ophelia is goofy.  She loves to play, and she even seems to have sort of a sense of humor.  For example, while I was in the process of changing my sheets awhile back, she came in and started to jump up on the bed.  I told her no and she seemed to get this devilish look in her eye.  She kept sneaking around the bed, pretending to jump up from a different side.  She totally knew I didn’t want her to jump up on the bed, and she was totally screwing with me.  It was hilarious.  Of course, being a science librarian, I did a quick lit search to see what I could find in terms of research on animals and humor, but I couldn’t find very much.  Perhaps something a UCLA researcher should look into!
  2. Ophelia is loyal.  While she’s not super into meeting strangers, once you make friends with Ophelia, she will love you and remember you even people that she doesn’t see all that often, like my parents (Turkey Grandpa!) or my Dallas friends.  She’s also very protective of me.  I live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but still, it’s a big city, and you never know – so at first the thought of having to walk her at night, in the dark, for potty breaks, seemed daunting to me.  However, if anyone even remotely looks like they might try something, Ophelia will bark and let them know they’d best keep away.  As a single woman in the city, I feel much safer knowing that my girl would protect me no matter what.
  3. Ophelia is wicked smart.  She’s got intelligent eyes.  I like watching her work stuff out.  This also makes training her a snap.  She loves to learn, and she picks things up so quickly.  Most commands, she’s been able to learn in five minutes or less.  It also helps that she really, really wants to please.  And on the rare occasions when she does something bad (honestly, I can really only think of a couple times she’s done anything bad – once she got into the trash, but that’s about it), she seems so upset with herself at disappointing me that I can hardly bring myself to discipline her much.
  4. Ophelia is athletic.  In spite of the plate in her femur, the dog loves to run, especially if she’s chasing a ball.  I’m sure my neighbors below me absolutely hate me for playing catch in the apartment, but Ophelia has so much fun doing it that I can’t NOT let her play (anyway, they play their music too loud, so I feel we’re even).  She also loves agility.  We’ve had a little agility instruction in our Shy Dog class and are going to continue going to the Zoom Room to learn more and hopefully compete in their tournaments.  Last night, she was getting so into it that she didn’t even really want to stop for treats.  I’d offer her a treat after she did something right, and she’d kind of look at it, like, “okay, yeah, that looks good, but let me run over this ramp first!”  I can’t wait to see how she’ll do when we actually start learning and doing it for real.
  5. Ophelia is a chomper, but of course I knew that from day one.  Everyone who sees this is greatly amused by it, including her trainers.  Last night, our trainer at the Zoom Room was determined to get a video of the chomping for YouTube because she thinks it would go viral and get millions of views.  Unfortunately, Ophelia was a little too amped up about training to really chomp properly, so her YouTube fame will have to wait.

Obviously, I love this dog, and I’m so happy we found each other.  I can’t believe it’s only been about five months since I got her, and I can’t wait to spend lots and lots more time together and find out what other little personality quirks will come out now that she is in a place where she can fully express herself and just be.

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