I share this tale not to frighten you, dear reader, but to serve as a Public Service Announcement.
Am in the shower believing that I'm the only one in the house because Husband and Son are at work. I am enjoying the well-earned ecstasy of hot water cascading down my spine after a bone-chilling morning doing barn chores when . . .
. . . . cue music from "PSYCHO."
. . .
. . . the shower curtain is ripped open!
. . . from the bottom.
It isn't Norman Bates, but it is a psycho.
A red and white furry face appears. Trace the Troll Dog has his green Kong dumbell. He smiles at me and drops his toy in the shower. It rolls to my feet and rudely bumps my toes. He stares at me like Obi Wan Kenobi.
I wait for the adrenaline still coursing through my body to settle while he grins impatiently, then I reach down and toss the damned thing out of the tub.
. . . aaaannnnd a monster is born.
I don't even have enough time to reach for a bar of soap before he reappears in another cold blast of air. He tosses the cold green toy at me and disappears behind the curtain. It rolls to my feet again. I know what I've done.
The cold hard reality is bumping against my toe. And just in case I was uncertain, the shower curtain is ripped back again and his laughing psychotic little eyes order me as deliberately as a Jedi Master to a Star Wars Storm Trooper.
"Throw it," he whispers.
And helpless, with the cloudy mind of the feeble, I bend over, and toss the toy out of the tub.
The subject HAS BEEN TRAINED!
I take a sidenote here to point out that the subject being trained here is not the dog. Life with a clever dog involves lots of patience and persistence on both sides. Be keenly aware that if you live with a Border Collie, they will spend as much time shaping your behavior as you spend shaping theirs. It is a fact of life. Don't fight The Force.
And here is the really sick part.
I stand in the shower, well aware that I've created a monster, or more precisely, I have just been trained by a monster and have cemented this behavior firmly into his repertoire of annoying yet charming job skills. After all, who doesn't want to play fetch while taking a hot shower?
Even as I toss the toy again I consider how I will explain this to the other members of my household. The toy reappears at my feet. I let it lie there as I shave my legs and consider the implications of my error. Obi Wan Kenobi runs out of patience and climbs into the tub himself to retrieve the toy. He then flings it up in the air and out the tub. I listen as he plays fetch with himself outside the shower curtain before it is ripped back again, and the toy once again rolls to my feet.
The little red leprechaun stares at me with laughing eyes. I know what he's doing. He's counting. How many times must he roll the toy to my toes before I toss it? At what angle must it hit my big toe before he is rewarded? He is playing with the variables in his head. I continue shaving my legs. He wriggles into the tub, grabs it again, and flings it out. There is more bumping around as he sets himself up for his next try. He is a Tiger Woods on tour. He studies the slope of the tub and the position of my feet as I shave the other leg, and slowly, ever so slowly, he opens his mouth and takes the shot. It bumps my foot and I toss the toy out of the tub.
He is now both a mathematician and a pool shark, counting tries and converting perceived angles in his head. I waste hot water and play fetch with him while I wash my hair. And even as I create, shape, mold, and fire the monster in the kiln of a hot shower, I am charmed. What a delightful little creature! What a terrifying little psycho!
What a mess we made on the bathroom floor!
So the lesson here is this:
If you don't want to be the trainee as often as you are the trainer, don't get a Border Collie, but if you are charmed by a leprechaun-pool-shark-mathematician-clown-into-world-domination, run, don't walk, to your nearest Border Collie rescue organization.
And if you do, buy lots of Kong toys and bath towels.