Anne’s Review: Yay! ——- Note: she also sent me information on a dog training program.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ▪ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
With a deep sigh of resignation, I remember what led me to being on my knees at 2:23 in the morning, in supplication to the creature under the bed. I wanted this I remind myself. Well, maybe not this exactly. I wanted the sweet beast. I yearned for a canine companion that would fill the void of an empty nest. I wanted cuddling on the couch and long, spirited hikes. I wished for all the good stuff, not remembering the work. The aggravation. The cleaning up. Puppy love, I recollect, involves a massive shift in priorities.
Lesson 1: The Pee and Poop Report
Not since my son was a toddler have I been so immersed in the minutiae of another being’s eliminations. I confess this is solely in the name of house defense. The discovery of a hidden piddle puddle feeds the conversation wheel between my husband and me. This topic has dominated our interactions as much as if an alien spaceship had landed in the backyard. We are curious, cautious and on our guard for any signs of back end deliveries.
I am one of those organized persons who thinks keeping a written log would be a good idea. It’s disgusting and morbid, I know, but how else will we communicate with one another when certain deeds have been done. We pass on the information verbally yet continually ask each other, “When was the last time she went out?” and “Did she go?” and “How does this crate training thing work?”
Lesson 2: Destruction 101
As seasoned experts (we’ve had other dogs) we know what needs to be protected from a curious, fire-breathing, tyrannosaurus puppy. Everything. Not all the inner doors in our house actually close and latch properly. A determined pup on the prowl is easily able to breach a sort-of-closed door. Dogs have no vested interest in keeping the home neat and intact. Anything that is chewable: pillows, footwear, area rugs, fancy bathroom wicker trash baskets, visitors, couches, tea towels, backpack straps, plastic storage bins, ukuleles, tablecloths and everything in your recycling bin will need to be placed above the reach of the animal. Also, power cords, toilet paper and human hands.
By the time we were done rearranging the home, it resembled the style of decoration we employed during the period of impending flood. It looks as if a low-flying band of locusts has stripped the lower three feet of our living space. We try not to drop the remote.
Lesson 3: A trained dog is a good dog
If you teach a dog that she will get a treat when she responds to your command to sit, she might just be smart enough to insist on getting more if she keeps sitting. The sit command has turned out to be quite entertaining. She won’t budge. Until I walk away. Now we are working on stay and come. Treats are miraculous. A dog will do just about anything for one tiny, liver-flavored cracker except get into the crate at 2:23 am, after a rousing potty trip to the backyard. We resist her need to play chase the mutt when the hour is a small number and we are weary. I assume we will soon be reduced to lobbing a T-bone steak in there if we want her to do That Which Must Not Be Named.
I need to have a well-trained dog. I don’t care for pulling on the leash or biting my hands. Or jumping. I really hate jumping and being scratched by doggie toe nails. Excitement is our enemy. People entering the home, people walking by on the street (especially if they are attached to a dog), anything that moves or makes a noise or comes back from a short time away will incite my dog to riotous behaviors.
The command “down” has been turned into rolling over for a belly rub. We’ve read that this is a good thing, a sign of submission. We’ve become purveyors of free doggie massage so complete is our submission. It does calm her down, until we stop. She has also responded a bit to our attempts at calming by petting her gently and saying “sweet,” though I am still defensive of my shirt sleeves, new down coat and lunchbox when I walk in the door after being away at the office.
Lesson 4: The Backyard is High Adventure
I don’t know if my dog is looking for an easy passage across the continent, but she could be a leading member of the Corps of Discovery for all the exploration that goes on out there in the back yard. She whines to go out the back door. All The Time. She loves our yard and its many wonders, from the dogs in neighboring yards to the wonderfully-chewable sticks and the deliciously-compelling compost pile. Rabbit pellets are also a strong attraction. Mummified dog poop, found under the deck, is her all-time favorite despite our attempts at getting it away from her. Or maybe because of it. She will come in after doing her business only to turn around and ask to go out again. Either she is incontinent or she prefers the delights of the yard to the barren three-foot high boundaries that constitute her in-home environment.
It is winter and the temperature is well below freezing in the mornings and evenings. We worry she will try to jump the fence from the launching pad of our raised garden bed, so we go out with her to make sure she hasn’t found the remains of the turkey carcass left near the swiftly-abandoned possum shelter under our patio, and to keep her out of the garden, gateway to the top of the fence. For the warmth of the kitchen and a hot cup of tea, we are slowly trading over some trust that our little dog will not be enthusiastically looking for a means of escape…and find one.
Last but not Least Lesson: Rewards
Our dog loves us. Or at least displays what passes for love—attachment. She wants to be in the rooms we are in. She whines when we go out to dinner and leave her in the small, nasty box from which there is no joining us. She will leap onto our laps (also our full bladders), scratch our bare skin and lick us until we wonder if she has some kind of licking affliction. She is a small animal in a pack of three. Her acceptance of us was nearly spontaneous. It’s easy to forgive the accidents and wild-wolf behaviors when, as we lounge on the couch together, she lays her chin over my thigh and closes her eyes. That kind of trust is touching. This is not so evident when we are attempting to lure her out from under the bed in the middle of the night.
My couch will never again feel the same (or as clean and tidy) as it was pre-dog. It is also now the guard tower from which all marauders are announced. If you are coming to visit, please text us before you approach our front door so we can restrain the hound. Unless you are amused by the outlandish barking and jumping, or don’t mind being nipped in the back of the leg! It seems our dog loves you too.
Who let the dog out?…did she go?
Guest Editor Anne is the best person to edit and review my story about a dog. She has a couple dogs of her own, which she generously allowed me to dote upon. She also understands that in my excitement when writing about my own pooch, I left out some very important words!