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Sugar is three today(ish)! In honor of that, I have a Sugar story for today’s post. Though sometimes Sugar does silly things, in most cases, she is quite smart. And manipulative. She also didn’t want to pose for pictures for this post, so most of these are older. Or of bad quality…

This was the best I could get her to do...

This was the best I could get her to do…

A little backstory for you:
Ever since we adopted her, Sugar has had… quirks… when it comes to eating. Toss her a dog treat, and she tries to catch it. Toss some “people food” her way- bacon, shrimp, cauliflower, whatever- and she will watch as it hits her between the eyes, wait till it lands on the floor, then eat it. Put people food in her dish and she’ll gobble it up. Put down a person dish with food on it, even if it is for her, and she won’t touch it without a LOT of encouragement. These behaviors have developed from the basic house manners training we did when we first brought her home.Sugar Birthday1She’s one of those rare dogs who can be free-fed without becoming overweight, so there’s usually food in her dish. One of her most common quirks involves the first bite of her food that she picks up. She will grab a couple of kibbles, bring them into whatever room we are in (even if we are in bed with the lights out), and spit them out. Sometimes she will come back and eat them later, sometimes I pick them up. She won’t eat the rest of her meal until that’s done, though. Mr. Gecko started calling them her “offerings”, and the name has stuck.

Sugar with her Christmas present from my sister.

Sugar with her Christmas present from my sister.

She will also “trade” me. She’ll bring me the plastic parts of her toys- eyes, squeakers, etc.- and I will give her a bite of treat or of my food, if I’m eating something appropriate. This is a behavior that I trained into her when we first started giving her toys and she was rapidly destroying them, and I have reinforced it by randomly rewarding it. It has been a great behavior, because I don’t worry (much) about her ingesting toy bits.

The unintentional result of this has been that she will bring me other things off the floor if she doesn’t have plastic bits handy. She’s brought me paper, tissue, twist ties, envelopes, anything small that she can grab, just in case I trade her a cookie, which I sometimes will. If she can’t find anything, she will casually walk past a table, knock something on the floor, then loop back and pick it up to bring it to me. That doesn’t get her anything.

Our snow fish before we started having unseasonably warm weather and everything began to melt.

Our snow fish before we started having unseasonably warm weather and everything began to melt.

Ok, so this has been more than a little backstory… I’m like I AM one of those crazy pet people who’ll talk about their dog forever.

Last week, Mr. Gecko and I were relaxing one evening. I was stretched out on the couch reading, having just opened a bag of peanut butter M&M’s (no sponsorships here, I just like them). I felt a gentle touch, and I looked over to see puppy dog eyes above a long nose resting on the couch next to my leg. In front of the nose was an “offering” of two kibbles.

I tried to give them back to her, but she nudged my hand and looked at the candy bag. I may have been anthropomorphizing, but it looked like she wanted to trade. I pointed it out to Mr. Gecko, and then we both watched in amusement as she licked and pawed at the single M&M I gave her. Given her reaction to the one she eventually ate, I doubt she will ask for one again. But I may have made her more of a spoiled monster than she was already…

IMAG0738

This is the Birthday Beast, some of her toys, and an offering. The moose ends up in a sitting position in random places around our house. Since his eyes have been surgically removed by Sugar, and he ends up ensconced “looking” at us, his name is  “Creepy Moose”. *Important note: I know chocolate is bad for dogs. The comparatively tiny amount of theobromine in a single M&M, given the minimum toxic dose for her size, weight, and health, is not going to cause any damage.

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