The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sassy Signal Intelligence


Going to the bank in her Lincoln Town Car.
She waits for me with the windows open when the weather is cool.
Everyone loves to see her at the wheel.


Sassy wants me to take her on her morning walk, before the sun is up. I would like some coffee first, so I am going to list her funny, interesting, and compelling signals used to communicate with me and manage my day.

Sassy does not want to wake up Mrs. Ichabod, so she flaps her ears. She is super-quiet in the morning and tries without success to hide her enthusiasm for a walk.

Sassy knows how to signal staff for her needs.

She looks for signs we are going. Shoes? We are going. Hat - oh, this is certain now. At the door she is ready to burst. I open it and say, "Well, let's go." She tears off down the block, runs back, jumps around, and barks happily.

On our walks Sassy must ask permission to cross a street. She is very good most of the time, but every so often I hold her head, look in her eyes, and talk to her softly about street safety. The drivers are extra courteous and some open their windows to smile at her and wave.

If Sassy wants a longer walk than I plan, she simply stops and looks at me with a big smile. "You must be kidding!"

To walk down a new street, Sassy stops, looks down that street and smiles. "Do you want to go there?" Big grin. We head down together. We found a street where all the sidewalks slope toward the street - great for drainage but difficult to walk on.

Sassy enjoys garage sales and inspects all the stuff out in the yards.

We often find friends along the route, even at 7 AM, when people are going off to work. The ones who really love Sassy call out to her. She wiggles toward them and collects the love. Our helper's wife asks, "Where is that happy bark?" Sassy lets out a series of very loud, cheerful barks. Yesterday Sassy rolled over for a tummy rub.

Our Army Ranger neighbor adores Sassy and buys her treats. He used to say, "Get out of the cat food!" Sassy would munch a few and grin. Instead of faking guilt, as many dogs do, she enjoys her little pranks. Sassy has been chatting up the Army Cat for three years now, the same one who chased a Pit Bull back across the street. They are now friends.

If Sassy sees Army Ranger from a distance, she trots over and begins a special howl, "Arrr, arrr, arr."
When we spend too much time talking, Sassy barks orders at me. I ask, "Do you have an appointment? Are you in a hurry?" She barks, "Yes! Yes!"

In contrast, when we see John and his wife, I sit down with them and Sassy takes up her guard dog duties. She sits facing the houses and streets, listens to everything, and changes position to have a better scan of the area.

At home Sassy will rest, ask to go out, and collect some attention from time to time. If I am in the middle of a sentence, she drags her claw slowly down my spine. I want to finish the sentence and she wants immediate action. "Let me finish!" The claw is pressed deeper.

Every night she says goodnight to us by sticking a paw out. I talk to her and pet her while she grins. Then she sticks a paw out at Mrs. I - "Your turn." If I say "Tuck and roll," Sassy will roll over onto her back for a tummy rub, grinning. I am supposed to pet her with both hands and talk to her. Chris is also expected to pet her and talk to her. If not, Sassy whips her head around and looks at her, expecting more. I add to this by saying, "Come on. Three hands petting her, two people talking to her." Once Sassy's lovey batteries are charged up for the night she goes to the foot of the bed and sleeps next to Chris.

Sassy is very expressive and uses a lot of different sounds. Army Ranger said, "I never saw such a talkative dog." Sometimes she uses her Cattle Dog voice, with Dingo Dog yelps, singing, yodeling, clucking (to dog friends), and so forth. The yodel is her warning sound. Some animals on TV make her a little alarmed, so she barks at them. Some get warned away - not the same bark. When she sees a herd on TV, she issues a warbling "Woo woo woo woo."

That was especially funny when we stopped at the vet's office for some medicine. Sassy stayed in the car with the window down. Usually she barks at me and grins when I turn around. At the vet's, she stuck her head out the window and warbled "Woo woo woo woo."

Her ears enhance all her expressions. When she wants something and I am not sure what, I ask, "Outside?" She runs to the door. "Treat?" Her ears respond like two exclamation points. "Walk?" She goes crazy at that suggestion.

She loves the bank where we always withdraw one doggy treat. If they do not pay attention to her as they ought (new tellers) she barks her loud German Shepherd voice into the PA system. That wakes up everyone in the bank. It is not a request but a command and works well. I thought it would annoy a new man there. He came over and grinned at her and said, "What a smart dog." She got three treats that day. Her favorite teller is a woman who adores dogs and Sassy especially. That usually means three treats. I chat it up, "What's this in the envelope, Sassy? Oh, treats! Thank you."

Best of all, one UOP driver has a big MilkBone for Sassy. We do not always get him, but Sassy knows his truck engine. She goes crazy before the truck stops. One package - one big MilkBone. He turns around at the end of the cul-de-sac, so I wave at him as he leaves the street. By that time Sassy has the MilkBone in her paws, sitting in the middle of the front yard, where she can watch for poachers who might take her treasure.

Our granddaughter fell backwards, laughing and not hurt.
When I got the camera, Sassy stepped into the photo to grin at all the fun.