Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hound Dog

I am not a dog person. Okay, I just alienated half of you, but I have never appreciated dogs. They are messy; they slobber. They are dependent and cannot be left alone for a long weekend. They shriek and yell for attention. They bite-- especially those little yappy beasts that run around nipping at ankles.

There is no sane reason to house a dog.

Cats are, at least, useful. Even my citified, girly cats caught and quickly dispatched a problem rodent. No-- I am not the neighborhood cat-lady who owns 23 cats and cooks their food or calls them her babies. There are only two of them, and-- okay, I do talk to them. I read to them. If you can’t keep a cat’s attention, you had better re-write. I ask their opinions on problems. They never give advice. That’s just as well because I probably wouldn’t follow it anyway.

Whenever I met a man who owned a dog, I crossed him off the ‘potential date list.’ I saw no future in it. I knew I would never be able to visit his home. So when the man I was dating invited me to dinner at his home, and warned me that he had a border collie, I took a step back. I really liked this guy, so I took a chance. “This is Meg.” he said, “She thinks she’s a crotch terrier.” Sure enough, she dove straight for the private parts and I went shrieking into the house and slammed the door. Each time I visited, Meg met me with gleeful, bouncing energy. Border collies are quick and I learned to move really fast.

It was unfair. He did not tell me that he had a dog before he asked me to dinner. I never saw dog hair on his clothing. He never carried dried pig’s ears in his pocket. How was I to know that his roommate was of the doggy persuasion?

Well, he did live on a small farm. But I was a city girl and didn’t understand that “farm” is code for ‘big square dog run complete with irrigation ditches to splash in before jumping on new skirts.’

So there it was-- I liked the guy so I had to learn to like the dog.

Meg is not a bad dog. She doesn’t chew shoes or furniture. She doesn’t bark much. She’s friendly and eager to please. Her only fault is her inappropriate interest in the nether regions of the human body.

But I did notice that she never went after the guy. If she could restrain herself with him, she could be re-programmed. If we teach others how to treat us, I should be able to teach Meg how to treat me. It became my mission to learn how to manage her. I may not be a dog-lover, but I am not a dog-hater and I really liked the guy.

I noticed that Meg shied away whenever I wore a skirt; she didn’t like the flounce of fabric. One day she was underfoot in the kitchen while I was handling hot pans, and I had repeatedly yelled “Move, Meg!” with no success. I reached for a dish towel to clean up a spill and as I snapped it off the towel ring, Meg withdrew to the corner behind the recliner.

“Your dog is afraid of dish towels,” I told the guy. He didn’t believe me. I had to demonstrate.

The dish towel became my friend. I don’t want Meg to cower in the corner, but she has quit trying to go where no dog should go. So now and then I reach over and snap the towel off the rack and Meg sits down. I get to reward her by giving her a treat. She’s learning to respect but not fear. I like that in a dog.

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