Saturday, 29 August 2009

Friday, 14 August 2009

Backseat drivers

It’s taken patience, perseverance, and a lot of cheese, but at last we’ve been rewarded for all of our efforts with a trip to the beach!

Yes, that’s right: at last we’ve made some headway with Bingley and the Bingmobile, although it’s required a compromise of sorts. For the time being he’s going to be staying on the back seat with Jane where, once he’s finally climbed in, he seems to be content to lie across her lap, keeping very still and watching the world go by.

More than that, unlike some backseat drivers I know, he keeps very quiet! The short journeys, of course, weren’t a problem in that regard; but even on our slightly longer trip to the beach he only whimpered ‘are we there yet?’ once, and that was as we were reaching the coast.

Of course we bought an estate car so that we’d have a boot big enough to hold a Bingley. But that’s okay, we now have oodles of room for all our picnic stuff! And in time I’m sure that Bingley will be confident enough to reclaim that space for himself.

Meanwhile, we're just happy to have the Bing back in the Bingmobile again!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Bingley Two-step

Given Bingley’s fancy footwork on the football pitch, I have no doubt that he could easily master Cajun dancing. He might have a bit of difficulty with a waltz, but the two-step would be right up his street!

But really the full title of this post should be: two steps forward, one step backward - the continuing saga of Bingley and the Bingmobile.

It’s quite amazing, I’ve discovered, just what can be achieved with lots of patience and an inexhaustible supply of cheese. Carefully combining those ingredients we soon had Bingley jumping into the car as though there’d never been a problem. In fact he now tries to squeeze into the boot as soon as I touch the door handle!

The rest of the car is no different: open a door and tell him to jump in, and it’s done. He’ll happily sit on any seat and wait for his treat. He’ll do sit-stays without any complaint even with the door shut, and having the car engine running doesn’t put him off at all.

So where’s the problem? I can hear some of you say; after all, this is Bingley, so by now most of you know that things are never going to be entirely straight forward!

Well, the problem at the moment (and this is the last hurdle, we’re hoping) is one involving context. Bing will do all the things I’ve described as long as the car is in the backyard. But move the car out of the backyard and it’s a different dance altogether: he won’t jump into the boot for any kind of reward, and asking him to even think about climbing onto the back seat just sees a return of those sticky paws that will not move.

Sticky paws: the final impasse. Even cheese didn’t help with that one and for a while I was crestfallen. But that still left patience, and instead of cheese we decided to use cunning. What would happen if we snuck in a sneak attack? Caught him by surprise and didn’t give him time to think.

With that in mind I drove the car out to meet Jane and Bingley on the way back from one of their walks. One minute Bing and Jane have the playing fields at Gateshead Stadium to themselves, next minute there’s the Bingmobile pulling into the car park – what a coincidence! Hey, Jane, there’s Rob and the car! ‘Yes I know, isn’t it exciting?’ It is, it really is. ‘Let’s go over and say hello’. Yes, yes, lets, I can’t wait. ‘Hi, Bing, how’re you doing; fancy a lift home?’ Yes please, Rob, that’d be great – don't tell Jane, but I’m a bit tired. ‘Just jump into the back then.’ Okie dokie!

It really was that easy, and we were even able to repeat it a couple of days later. But it turned out that the trick would only work in one direction: homewards. Bingley still wouldn't get into the car at the beginning of a trip, so unless we wanted all of our car journeys to be one way we still had work to do.

Patience, time, and yet more patience; but today we finally managed to complete a full there and back journey! After a long backyard session with Bingley climbing into the car without complaint, I let him watch me drive the car out of the yard. Needless to say he was giddy to discover what was going on! I parked the car alongside the house and Jane, holding the lead, got into the back seat. Would Bingley follow? Well, the last few times we'd tried this he hadn’t; but by now we’ve put in a lot more preparation. We were also determined to wait him out – let’s see who moves first.

I’ve got to say, he almost won! But eventually he climbed in alongside Jane, and then once the door was shut he lay across her lap as I drove the car along to Gateshead Stadium. Once there we played football for a while, then (after another long wait outside the car!) we returned home.

Just a short trip, but it’s a start; and given Bingley’s recent behaviour I think that this qualifies as a significant breakthrough. It’s certainly a relief! But can we repeat this? Well, Jane has the week off work; and although this is an odd way to spend a holiday, it could have long-term benefits.

We’re going to try another short trip tomorrow, then build on that during the rest of the week. We’ll keep you posted!