“Every interaction you have with your puppy teaches him something. There is no “small” interaction.” --My Smart Puppy, pg. 3
Weeks passed. I was intensely motivated to successfully house train Jimmer, since the only way I could be at ease was to make him a good, obedient dog around my children. All the while I day-dreamed of ways Jimmer could accidentally pass on to that great dog park in the sky. [Animal rights activists, please close your eyes for the next two paragraphs.]
What if he happened to be let outside at the same time the garbage truck rolled by? What if he got tangled up and strangled in his tether? What if someone accidentally mixed chocolate chips in with his dog food? A lot of chocolate chips?
I admit I wasn’t as careful with him as I ought to have been. I didn’t take plastic bags away from him when he started chewing on them or stop him from eating the bits of playdough that fell under the table (which he later threw up all over my kitchen floor in seven long, drawn-out heaves). I would never actually try to harm Jimmer on purpose. (I did have my marriage to think about, you know.) But I wasn’t going to stop him if he found a way to end his life on his own.
Then one day, as I was cleaning the kitchen and Jimmer was tethered nearby I heard something. It sounded like my name. I turned and saw Jimmer looking at me.
For one small moment I could read his thoughts. He said:
Why do you hate me?
The question was simple enough. We lived with each other 12-7, he had a right to know the truth.
I don’t hate you, I answered back. I just resent you. You are not a priority to me.
All I want is love and attention, he replied, cocking his head and letting out a whine.
I reserve my love and attention for family members, I responded.
I am a family member.
No you aren’t. You are a dog.
I am adorable. He said.
That doesn’t change the fact that you are a dog, I answered back. I will feed you, clean up after you and put up with you. From time to time I will pet you. But I cannot love you.
How can you say that? Everyone loves puppies. What kind of person are you?
I am a mother.
He was silent for a while and then he finally said, I see how it is.
I nodded. Yes. So you’d better behave.
Who says? I’ll do whatever I bloody well please. (I forgot to mention he had an Australian accent.)
Not in my house, I said.
What are you going to do? Run circles around me? Howl? Bite me? Remember, buddy, I control your food.
Ha! He smurked, I’m a herding dog. I’m much too smart to resort to the tactics of lower breeds.
I narrowed my eyes. What do you mean by that? I asked.
Then, all of the sudden the moment was gone, and there I was, standing in my kitchen, glaring at my stupid dog.
Who knows what really transpired between me and Jimmer during those few seconds, but after that moment one thing was certain: our enmity for each other was mutual. Click here for Part 4