Shake It Off

Another wave of rainstorms hit the Pacific northwest this week, meaning a few more mornings of getting soaked at the park. Portland has now racked up 21+ consecutive days of rain! This week most of the serious rain happened outside the Portland area, but another flood warning was issued for our neighborhood waterway. It hadn’t yet completely recovered from last week’s deluge.

Portland has a reputation for being rainy, and winter has plenty of what Oregonians call liquid sunshine. That is why I’ve been working on a new command with Rain: shake off.

Imagine it’s 7:15am and light is just getting through thick rain clouds. Rain and I are getting home from a half-hour jaunt to our local park. This included getting rained on and squishing around in the grass. Not a dry inch remains on Rain’s fur. The clothes underneath my Columbia raincoat are dry, but water is dripping from my hat and hair, soaked into my raincoat, and the bottom quarter of my pant legs are soaked.

We arrive at the little covered area in front of my front door. I put the key in the door, then remove Rain’s leash and harness.

“Shake off!” I say.

Rain, her wet fur unencumbered, gives her whole body a long shake to get as much water off as possible.

As you might imagine this little move can help keep the inside of one’s house drier in the short term, and cleaner in the long term.

This command began with Rain’s Uncle Atticus. One morning when he shook out standing at our front door after a walk. I praised him, and then started encouraging the behavior when we arrived at our doorstep. It’s a natural dog behavior, so it was easy to teach. Sometimes when he didn’t shake off by himself, I’d help get him started by taking the fur between his shoulders and lightly moving it side to side. Sounds strange, but it usually worked!

So when it started raining this fall, I started the same habit with Rain. It’s going pretty well so far. She gets a training cookie when she shakes out on command. If she shakes out on her own before I’m ready, I try to get her to do it again. It just makes her cleaner before coming inside, and practice makes perfect!

She has certainly had plenty of practice the last two weeks.

If the title of this post had you thinking about a certain pop song with a certain spunky video, here you go.

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