The fenced-in backyard is her play area. Sometimes she would rather go out front on a leash to do her thing. One of my co-workers said she was like a mullet: Party in the back, business in the front.
Getting her to actually come in from the backyard is another story. Although we’re making strides on obedience from a distance at her school, GymDog, when Daisy Duke is having fun, she’s tough to catch.
When she runs by with her nose on the ground, you can hear her sniffer making a popping sound as it absorbs every odor it can, like a bloodhound does. Every so often she raises her head when she gets a whiff of something new. Then it’s off to the races.
Only recently have we discovered something that gets her attention enough to get her to come up the steps. It’s a harmonica. When she hears its sounds, she howls like she’s never howled before.
Some people think she’s singing along, others think she’s singing in protest. Either way, we’ve only tried it a couple of times so we’re not sure it will work forever.
One thing that works like a charm is her red pillow. She turns into a bull and we are a matador. All we have to do is wave the pillow and she comes running. As she goes by, she leaps. If we’re on our game, we can catch her quickly and lead her into the house.
Daisy Duke has recently discovered she is tall. All of our dogs’ toys are kept in a box on our fireplace mantle to prevent brawls from breaking out. So far, that’s been a good place. That is until Daisy Duke realized she can reach it.
We caught her stretching up, craning her neck, almost getting the toys. Then, one day, she stepped onto an ottoman that was left too close to the mantle, stretched out looking like a basketball player reaching for a rebound, and took a toy down.
Now she looks up there all the time, reaching and scratching. We keep the ottoman away from there now.
When she plays, especially in the house, it’s not all fun and games. She means business. An 85-pound, clumsy hound with huge paws can be trouble even when she isn’t trying to be. When we get out her toys, I sound like a referee at a boxing match, reminding everybody in the room to protect themselves at all times.
When she gets to playing, she shakes her head, flinging her toy around and turning it into a weapon. We’ve been hit in places you can’t mention, and that’s when the fun stops.
Playing with a dog who packs a punch can be a dangerous challenge. If you’re not careful, she’ll land a left hook and knock you senseless. She’s very “handsy” when she plays and we’d put her punching power against anybody else in the 85-pound weight class.
The excuse “She didn’t mean to” doesn’t make the punch feel any better.
Through all of this playing, we have realized you can’t lose a tug-of-war with a big dog on hardwood floors. She just can’t enough traction and it really makes her mad.
One recent day, she finally slowed down enough to sit on the couch with me. She reached up with one paw and then the other. I was getting a hug and I thought we finally had a cuddly hound on our hands.
Then she began to gnaw on my ear.
So much for that.
Just refilling her water bowl can be dangerous, too. If her head is down when you’re placing the bowl on the ground and she decides to quickly look up, you get a powerful head-butt directly under the chin. Your teeth clatter together and you could swear you see stars. After this happens once — OK, three times — you remember and become more careful.
Then she’ll drink the water, get all slobbery, and give you the look that made you fall in love with her in the first place.