Sunday, May 08, 2005

All about Ally Woo

Ally Woo Posted by Hello

Ally came to us eight years ago from Florida – I remember I was out of town somewhat frequently doing the Promise Keepers logistics conference thing and my wife’s (Becky) friend had access to a AKA certified pure bred Golden Retriever... having a dog for companionship seemed like a good idea. When we went to pick her up, she looked like a 100% Labrador to us! Apparently her momma had a boyfriend who hopped the fence one night.

Her brother came to Tennessee also and his coat is all spotted (his name is Gator). Ally and Gator from Florida (pun intended).

Watching Ally grow up we thought she was part Florida goat, as she would chew on coke cans and plastic milk jugs. Later she acquired a taste for chew bones as most dogs do.

Becky has a passion for American Sign Language (ASL) and over the years, Ally being the incredibly smartest, sweetest, obedient and most human dog we have ever been privileged with, has picked up a sizable vocabulary of ASL signs.

With Becky’s patience (and the power of cheese), Ally knows how to sit, stand, lay down, roll over, stay, come, bark, talk, get the shoes (to go out for a walk), ride (she loves to go for car rides), fetch the paper, ask for water, eat, shake (left hand or right hand), night night (time for bed) and a bunch more! She watches us and picks up a few things on her own, like self serving ice out of the ice dispenser to chew on.

For instance, to get the newspaper, Becky would sign “paper” and “go” and after Ally brings it back, she would get rewarded with a piece of cheese. If I’m rewarding her, I’ll ask her to give the paper to Becky who may be in a different part of the house. Ally is more than happy to oblige for another piece of cheese!

Ally Woo - out standing in her field Posted by Hello

When Ally is out and about, she’ll scratch on the aluminum front screen door, making a horrible scratching noise with her toe nails (like fingers on a chalkboard). We taught her to go to the back door instead… she was a bit puzzled, once we open the front door, why didn’t we just let her in then! So after telling her “back door”, we just went to the back and call for her. Now all we do is tap on the front door to signal her that we acknowledge her presence, and she will simply head for the back door!

One more item of interest – I remember an old Little Caesar’s Pizza commercial with a man and his dog that verbalized “I love you”. We had a sweet dog before Ally; Abby a homeless terrier, that we adopted who passed away from diabetes. God, we miss her. We taught her to say “Hello” like “hell whoa” or “Hi”. Abby would greet people at the door with a long “Hi” which sounded like a verbal yawn when translated, sounded like “Hiiiiiiiiii !” One day, Becky was talking to a door to door salesman, when Abby came around the corner and said “Hiiiiiiiiii.” Definitely freaks people out – especially my mother in law – Helen - who is not terribly fond of pets, notably cats. Some dogs are afraid of her! Becky and I were sitting watching TV when we heard Abby say “Hiiiiiiiiii” and Helen said “Well, hello to you too Abby!” which cracked us up!

My point is Ally, when signaled to talk, lets out a loud passionate howl like “Ah Woooo er er Woooo mmmh.” My daughter Megan with Ally, recorded a telephone greeting on our home phone that went something like, “Welcome to the - Ah Woooo er er Woooo mmmh - residence, we’re not home, but leave a message and we’ll call you back!” Unfortunately, I was out voted on the long term novelty of the message, so it was replaced weeks later.

As you can tell with my series of postings (in honor of Ally’s eighth birthday), I love dogs, especially homeless ones. Dr. Doolittle was an influence on me as a young child (the books, not the Eddie Murphy films…). At one time, I actually pursued the seriousness of being a veterinarian but that’s another story. Over the years between Becky and I, the dogs in our lives included Barney, Jackie, Polly, Joni, Abby, Bijou and now Ally and Diggy. One day, I have a desire to fund a dog park and I just may organize a Barkitecture fund raiser either in Nashville or Chapel Hill for homeless dog (cats too) adoption.

Happy eighth birthday Ally!

Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting Posted by Hello

Hugh Lofting's tale of an English country doctor (who practiced in a small place called Puddleby-on-the-Marsh), has become a favorite of kids all over the globe. You'll want to meet the good doctor who not only can hear animals talking to him, but he can speak their language back to them!

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