I don’t know when I first realized that I was not in charge. It wasn’t long after we brought home the first puppy. She was so cute, so helpless. As any proud new parents would do, we fawned over her. The first few nights when she would wake up in her box and start to whimper, one of us would go pick her up until she went back to sleep. And during the day, we followed her around, picking up the messes (opps, I mean mistakes. She was to cute for messes) that she made. Of course, we would scold her, right before we told her what a good girl she was. Did I mention she was cute? If she even looked hungry, a bowl would be provided. Over time, it contained different types and flavors of dog food (ok, ok, and table scraps) while we narrowed down her favorites. After all we reasoned, if we didn’t give her what she wanted, she wouldn’t eat it. Then we would (can you say quilt trip) worry that she was going to starve to death. It was, we said, all just part of the training process. And it was. Ours.
Our whole vocabulary began to change. We found ourselves constantly saying things like “Isn’t that adorable” and “look how smart she is”, and “oh no, she didn’t. Not again.” Housebreaking took a while, but we finally got the hang of it. She didn’t, but we did. You just kind of hung around and watched her until she started to sniff the furniture. Then you grabbed her “adorable” little body and ran for the door, hoping she didn’t spring a leak on the way. And of course, we had to take her for walks so the neighbors could admire her too. These were not scheduled, but instead occurred whenever she decided she wanted to go.
We also discovered that puppies like to chew. Anything. So we bought her the obligatory toys to destroy instead of the furniture, however that only worked to a degree. If you saw a toy lying near a chair for instance, it served only as a marker to draw your attention to the teeth marks on the legs. Saved us a lot of time in the discovery process.
Over the years, we have had eight dogs, most of them rescued from kennels, including the current residents shown here. And the only thing about them that is the same, is that they are all skilled in the art of manipulation. We walk them when they decide they want to go. We feed them when it is “time” (a period defined entirely by them, during which you drop whatever you are doing to fix them something to eat), you put them out whenever they stand near a door, you move over on the couch when they stretch out, you walk around them or step over them so they don’t have to move, you scratch and pat them whenever they give you “the eyes” (a look consistent across the whole canine spectrum and instinctively understood by anyone with a dog), and you run around throwing (and frequently retrieving) their ball purely for their enjoyment. We had one that would wait for my brother in law to get home from work so they could lay on the floor watching TV and share a beer. Scooter, our Cocker would keep you up all night if you didn’t put him on the bed to assume his rightful place between us. And we call this “ownership”. Really?? REALLY??
We once had a veterinarian tell us that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, she wanted to come back as one of our pets. You know what? So do we.
I’m afraid I have to wrap this up. It is 3:00 P.M. and they Always go out at 3:00 and they get a little surly if I’m late.
Originally published Feb 2013