Marty’s photo of the day #4243: Sometimes even sweet Nellie can be a bad girl. Because we live on 25 acres of protected mountain forest (affectionately called the Essen Wildlife Refuge), we have mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, porcupines, skunks, and other animals around that Nellie shouldn’t mess with. And the only safe way for her to learn that is via a firm reprimand when she’s naughty. Swatting her isn’t the answer, so I have instituted a timeout system, just like my wife and I had done years ago with our son.

For timeouts we put a kennel in the front hallway that we had to use for a previous rescue dog that would rip our house apart if we left her alone. (Oh, and I should be clear here and mention that our son went to his room, not the kennel, when he was bad.) So if Nellie chased an animal, I would scold her and then send her to the kennel for a short timeout. Soon Nellie learned to head directly to the kennel when she knew she was in trouble.

Fast forward to earlier this month. Nellie had been such a good girl for such a long time, that I had removed the kennel from the front hallway and stored it in the garage. Then a deer refused to move from the circle of Nellie’s territory around our house. It was just too much. Perhaps it was a deer from a few years ago, remembering the slow, geriatric black dog that guarded the house. It was time for that obstinate deer to learn that the fast black dog was now in charge.

So off she charged. I yelled, but Nellie had gone temporarily deaf. She and the deer were approximately the same speed, so Nellie couldn’t gain on the deer, but she sure as hell escorted it to the edge of the Essen Wildlife Refuge!

When Nellie returned, I scolded her and she apologized profusely. I brought her inside, thinking that was the end of it. Fifteen or so minutes later, I couldn’t find Nellie anywhere. Normally during the day she is in my lap, doing her best to keep me from writing, or underneath Deb’s desk, keeping my wife’s feet warm.

Finally my search brought me to the front hallway. The timeout-kennel was no longer there, but that didn’t stop Nellie from giving herself a timeout in the same spot the kennel used to be! Hugs and dog cookies followed without delay.