Page 4 - LeMagFall2014
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The Helper Briard
                   by Juliane Essig

                                                                 	 Once on the bed (it’s a king) she’ll stand in the
                                                                 middle, and collapse with exquisite precision so some of
                                                                 her weight rests on my left arm. That’s how we sleep. She
                                                                 doesn’t fidget, snore, or bother me; I sleep just fine with a
                                                                 warm dog on my side.
                                                                 	 In the morning we stretch, smooch and then she
                                                                 walks off the bed with her front legs, dragging the back
                                                                 ones behind froggy style. That’s the only time she does
                                                                 this. Any other time or place, she’ll jump up or down;
Introduction                                                     	she’s  a  great jumper.
                                                                            Clearly Decibel
	 When I was asked to share some of my Briard ex-                                            is  something  special.  No  sur-
periences, I uttered an enthusiastic “I’d love to!” After all,   prise then that she is a Briard. And she is a big
I love talking about Decibel (more about the name later)         girl, in every sense – a big dog, and a lot of GIRL.
our beautiful Helper Briard (I’ll get to that, too).             She is a mixture of typical and unique.
So why then am I staring at a blank page?                        She was an easy puppy to raise and train… eager to
	 …Because it is difficult to find a good starting               please, but she didn’t like to be alone. This was neither
point. I could do this chronologically, but that means           ‘separation anxiety’ nor lack of practice – she just didn’t
going back four and a half years, and it feels stale to recap    like it, not one bit, and so she would perfect the art of
things in the order they happened. Besides, while I do           throwing a tantrum; the tornado-Tasmanian Devil kind.
that, Decibel keeps on doing her thing, and you’d miss           My – she could bring the house down!
out. Worse yet, I would miss out. This became abundantly         	 She learned the “dogs poop outside” rule in a mat-
clear to me when I reviewed Decibel’s photos and put the         ter of days. By week two at our house bounded
best into an album. I’m at number 422. That’s only the           through our double doggie door without much of a slow
best of them. If I clipped all these together in a flipbook,     down. Then came the day when she trotted over to her
you’d have to get popcorn for the movie.                         ‘brother’s’ crate (AWAY from the doggie door), and, look-
	 So maybe thematically?                                         ing straight at me, peed on his bed. Words failed me.
	 Or maybe I should do the polite thing and intro-               I had done all the right things, according to the manual…
duce us…                                                         took her outside frequently, praised for doing her busi-
…We live in the middle of nowhere, Kansas. Now that’s            ness, kept a routine, had her earn freedom in a room, etc;
redundant. We’ve had multiple dogs for two decades               surely this was a fluke? Then she did it again. On her own
now, and at least one Briard for almost that long. We have       bed, this time. Locking eyes with me.
a small farm populated by a variety of animals, resulting        	 I forgot the manual and threw a fit. I stomped,
in what I call the Baskin Robbins of manure… (31 flavors         scolded, chased her little highness outside and left her
of poopsicles).                                                  there for twenty minutes. After cleaning up I went in the
	 As I write this, I know what time it is without look-          backyard, called a very subdued puppy over to me, played
ing; about 8:30 pm. Decibel is upstairs on the bed and has       with her and finally we went back in together. She never
begun her evening ritual – a steady bark that would be           peed inside again. She almost instantly became ‘Daddy’s
soothing, if it were not so LOUD. If I ignore it, she will bark  girl’.
up there for half an hour, then she’ll come flouncing down       	
the stairs to join us again. I can easily stop her barking,
either by turning on a hallway light (if she is afraid of the
dark, then why not stay in the living room with us?) or
asking her what she needs. But usually I just let her bark.
	 If I go to bed before 10 I’ll have the bed to myself. 	
If I get there after 10:30 pm I’ll be wrestling for space and
blankets. Those are the rules.
When we go to bed, Decibel will join us five minutes af-
ter 	 lights out. That’s another one of her quirks. At this
time Decibel will perform a Briard magic trick: Weight of
the world. She will put her head on Harold and let grav-
ity take over, until he moves and lets her up on the bed.
Always him. Never me; she knows where success lies. Nor
does she take the easy way out and hop on the bed from
the foot end. No, not Decibel; that’s not her style.

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