By Sue Murphy
I saw a T-shirt the other day that said, “One day, I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am.” I don’t know. Some days, I’m not sure my dog’s opinion of me is all that good.
Oh sure, Dave loves me. I know that. But, there are times (a lot of times) when it’s obvious that Dave questions my judgment.
If it is raining and I open the door and say, “Let’s go outside,” Dave gives me a look that says, “Seriously?”
When the UPS truck thunders down the street and I attempt to quiet Dave by saying, “Everything is OK,” Dave continues to bark, believing I am in serious denial. I used the same line every five minutes the day that the workmen power-washed the house and it was clear that Dave thought I had lost my mind.
When I have cheese and crackers and I say, “These are not for dogs,” Dave considers me blatantly selfish. When I tell him that one rawhide chewy is enough even though it is obvious that the chewy container is still full, he thinks I am just being mean.
When Dave nudges the back of my leg with a squeaky toy and I say, “Sorry, buddy, I have to do some work,” he stares at me thinking I have no interest at all in his happiness.
I do have some successes. When I say, “Do you want to go to the park?” Dave is filled with doggie joy and runs directly to the closet that holds his carrier. But on days when it is raining and a trip to the park is ill-advised, there is no explaining it to him. He sniffs the door of the closet and looks at me with innocent expectation. “Not today,” I have to say. Meanest dog mom in America.
Now, I know a lot of you are rolling your eyes right now. I am supposed to be the Alpha, Dave the docile subordinate in our little pack, but our pack is just the two of us, and that’s not how I want my house to feel.
I did not hesitate to point out to Dave that I did not like him pottying on the living room rug. I was quite direct in my correction when he chewed on the legs of the dining room table. It’s only fair that he be able to voice his displeasure about my actions from time to time. We will work it out. Or maybe I’m reading too much into his raised eyebrows and little doggie sighs. Maybe he gets it completely and is just trying to push my guilt buttons, but I have raised two daughters and shepherded 12 classes of kindergartners, and I have been guilted by the best of them. It’s not going to work … very often.
With a child, you can console yourself with the idea that someday your unhappy offspring will have children of their own and will come to understand that you were not being mean, you were being a responsible parent, but with a dog, not so much.
At the end of the day, when I finally sit down on the couch, Dave jumps up next to me where he has a scheduled chewy treat (just one) and then he falls asleep on my lap. It’s snuggly and peaceful, and I love it. But sooner or later, I know I will have to get up, disturbing his sleep, and I’ll be gifted with a half-lidded stink eye.
I’m sorry, Dave. I really am. I’m trying.