So, I've been doing a little tweaking. I was afraid to host the new background images on photobucket, for fear that I'd run out of usage and the blog would be black with red type. So I had to create a bellsouth homepage and host the images there, but I can see that it's taking longer for some browsers to load them. What is going on at your house? Is it black with ugly red type? Or are you reminded of that lovely peach living room I used to have? Please let me know if it looks crazy. IE (I know!) doesn't always do the best job of letting me know these things.
And now, here is why, at my house, we tend to yell the words cheese and night-night a lot.
When Gonzo-bean was a little boy, I tried to be a responsible parent and take him to dog school. He was only a year old when I got him and he was obviously very bright, so I figured that it would be no problem, shelled out the 60 dollars and started taking him to Petsmart every Tuesday night.
Gonzo did not like the dog school. He did not like the other dogs. He did not like being in such close proximity to great quantities of food that he could neither eat nor pee on. He did NOT like the teacher. In fact, every single time the instructor tried to speak, Gonzo would begin barking as if the teacher were at that moment breaking into his home and harming his family.
The teacher was game, of course. He tried to use Gonzo as an example of excessive barking and demonstrated to the class that when your dog barks at the door or at a passerby, you should shake a tin can full of beans at the dog. This will startle the dog, redirect his attention, and teach him, over time, that barking is not acceptable.
Gonzo took the beans as the greatest possible insult. I think in dog language, the teacher was calling his momma a ho. His barking only increased 10 fold, as if he were trying to drown out the sound of the insulting beans.
After three weeks, the teacher took me aside and indicated that Gonzo was a disruption in the classroom environment. In short, my dog was kicked out of dog school.
I've never had a really big problem with that. If you've met Gonzo, you know that he is crazy-laid back, doesn't bark a lot and is obsessed with the rules. This is not a dog that will eat your underwear or chew up the bathroom trash. He feels bad if he throws up in the house--he's certainly never going to do anything else. He sits only on the furniture on which he is allowed and seems to know instinctively which pieces those are. He is a good dog. And he's small. So if he's doing something I don't like, I can pretty much just pick him up and move him.
His sister Gert is also small. However she is often found on the furniture, eating pencils and pens, and pooping in the corner. I pretty much didn't bother to take Gert to dog school because Gert, God love her, is dumb as a post. It doesn't matter what you say or do, Gert will never follow the rules because Gert cannot remember the rules for more than 25 seconds. She's just a lump of cells in the shape of a beagle, and a better natured dog you will never know. She adores people and turns into a pile of tummy shaped mush in their presence. She almost never barks or makes any kind of sound except to snore. She's amazing. But if you say "come" or "stay" to her, she'll just roll over and show you her tummy again.
In our house, when we want the dogs to come, we yell "Cheese!" Both of them know exactly what cheese is, and woe to the man who tries to substitute carrots at the last minute. We do, in fact, occasionally yell "Carrots!" into the backyard, but we've learned (our education continues, though theirs has ended) that there is a higher success rating with "Cheese!"
When we do not like what the dogs are doing, or if they begging to go outside during dinner or up too early in the morning, we yell "Night-Night!" We can be routinely found yelling "Night-Night!" at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Night-Night! (tm) means go to your chair and lay down. Both the dogs recognize it as a command and though sometimes they look around like, "really?" They almost always obey it.
Thomas and I were laughing the other day about how we've trained the dogs by accident, though I don't think they could get a diploma for obeying our commands.
In further news of animals learning to associate different stimulus and response, I've found that because the previous tenants of our house had cats that liked to pee into the radiator vent, I've begun to associate the smell of cat pee with winter and Christmas and lovely warm evenings indoors.