Dogs are man’s best friends and devoted companions. And if they had fingers, most of us would be wrapped around their littlest one.
Our dog, Sally, is a master manipulator. Here’s a typical evening at home.
We live out in the country and Sally, a frisky, 3-year-old black lab, has been (pretty much) trained via electronic collar to stay within 90 feet of the house. When she wants to go outside we open the door and out she dashes. No matter what doggy business she’s engaged in out there, however, her 6th sense alerts her if a family member heads toward the kitchen. She’s back on the deck in a flash and she wants in. Now.
Her “let me in” routine starts with a little whimper. It quickly escalates to DEFCON 1, a high-pitched whiny cry so pathetic a 1-year-old child would think such babyish tactics beneath him. Anyone hearing Sally would assume we are inhumane monsters who have driven this poor animal out to freeze in a snow bank. Never mind that it’s a balmy 75 degrees, and a mere 10 minutes earlier she was doing her, “How can keep me cruelly trapped in this dungeon?” bit to get outside. We go through this cycle approximately 579 times each evening.
Once back in the house, she investigates to see if, indeed, there is food to be had. Woe to the person who is carrying.
Sally generally interprets even simple commands like “sit” and “come” as having an “if you feel like it” rider. But let one of her humans be in possession of food and she is eager to show how well she can do “sit”, thereby earning a treat. She does her furry statue imitation, sitting ramrod straight, right next to the knee of the person with the food. She gets as close as caninely possible to the snack and keeps her gaze fastened with single-minded purpose on her quarry.
If sharing of said food does not begin immediately, Sally goes into her Oliver Twist routine. Her anxious, pathetic expression and tiny, snuffling whimpers say with an eloquence worthy of an Oscar, “Please sir, I want some more.” You can practically hear the tiny violins playing! Anyone watching would be considering calling the Humane Society right about then, because it’s obvious we do not feed the poor creature.
The starving, obedient orphan act lasts as long as the food does, and then it’s playtime. Sally retrieves one of the many bones and toys that form the minefield otherwise known as our living room floor and dumps them, one at a time, in my lap. Her favorite toy is her corduroy Kitty. She wants me to throw it, but as I frequently remind her, I do NOT approve of throwing toys in the house.
I hand Kitty to my hubby to toss.
After a few moments of this game, she plops down on her bed, head on paws and lets out a heartfelt sigh, the living picture of a bored teenager. If she could talk, she would be saying, “There’s NOTHING to DO around here. I HATE my life!”
Then a sound comes from outside. It could be crickets chirping, the hoot of an owl or the wind in the trees. Whatever the source, it must be investigated – she heads briskly for the door. If we don’t immediately follow to open it (damn this lack of opposable thumbs!) she trots back to where we sit. Then back to the door. Back and forth she goes, pacing and panting, until one of us, driven nearly mad by the pacing, gets up and lets her out. To clarify; I am the one who is driven mad, and Bill is the one who gets up to let her out. He’s doggy-whipped.
Sally stays outside until the menace has been driven off or she thinks one of us might possibly be heading in the general direction of the kitchen, and then the cycle begins anew.
I’m typing this on our screen porch right now, and Sally is whining to come out here. As soon as I open the door, she will lick my hand to say hello, walk around in a circle, and then beg to go either back in the house or outside. We’ve gone through this routine 263 times already this evening.
Only 316 more to go.