Monday, November 1, 2010

Who is the owner and who is the pet?

My dog is a sorry excuse for a dog. If there were a licensing agency for dogs to call themselves dogs, his would be revoked. However, the truth is, we are sorry excuses for owners. We baby and coddle our dog to the point that we have effectively convinced him he is not a dog. So ultimately, we are to blame. We have trained our dog to not be a dog.

To give you some background I bought this dog shortly after my wife and I got engaged. We didn’t want to jump into naming him until we got to know his personality, how he looked and how he acted so that we could find a name that best suited him. Ultimately, we landed on the name “Tucker”.

Since we did not have children at that point in our relationship, Tucker was that child. We took him everywhere, we talked to him, and he slept in the bed with us. Then one day, our son arrived. This meant that Tucker was going to be removed as our only child. In fact, not only did he lose the status of “only child”, but it quickly became apparent to us that in fact, he was not a child at all, but a family pet. We quickly adjusted our lives to treat our son like a child and Tucker like the family dog. Unfortunately, Tucker did not receive that memo. Looking back on the situation, I remember having that conversation with Tucker, but I noticed a far-away gaze in his eyes, almost as if he was ignoring me. Now, four years later, I recognize that he wasn’t ignoring me, he heard me loud and clear, he was simply saying, without words, “Thanks, but no.”

The good news is that Tucker didn’t decide to punish our children for this sudden slide down the family hierarchy. He had a more effective and well-thought out strategy, he became more needy. It wasn’t long after this that Tucker developed allergies. “A dog with allergies?” you may be asking yourself. Well, I too was suspicious, so I asked our vet if it was possible. Yes, says our vet, it’s actually more common than you might think. In the old days, they’d laugh at such silly nonsense. But what do we do? I give Tucker allergy medicine twice a day. I’d say he is pathetic, but I think I am the pathetic one. I don’t give my children medicine twice a day.

Tucker has employed other, more devious and distracting methods of getting our attention. Like recently, he started getting cold at night. “A dog getting cold at night?” you might be asking yourself. Well, I asked myself the same thing, but the vet once again assured me that this too is not that uncommon (is it possible that the vets are in on this little conspiracy?) So, we went out and bought him a pajama top. Yes, I own this humiliating act. But wait, it gets worse. Recently, he became so cold he could not stop shivering until we got him underneath the comforter with us. I awoke the next morning, lying nose to nose with our family dog. He was laying there, head on the pillow, comforter tucked snugly around his torso, eyes looking drowsily into mine. Pathetic.

Well, I am on to these animals. My belief is that these canines are actually intentionally playing on our sympathy and therefore getting our attention by acting needy. So next time you are tempted to read them a bedtime story, or leave the television on while you are out for the day, don’t be fooled, the conspiracy is upon us. I’d tell you more, but Tucker needs his teeth brushed.

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