Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Dog World
We have now had Diesel for six weeks. The impact on our lives spans beyond the obvious changes that occur when you are training a young puppy. Entering the realm of “dog world” has been interesting in ways I could not have predicted.
We have lived in our current house for 5 years. In that time I have logged hundreds of miles running on the paths around our neighborhood. People would sometimes give a cursory nod or the occasional “hello”.
Walking with Diesel has changed everything. People are friendlier. They say that puppies are chick magnets. I disagree. They are people magnets. No matter where I take Diesel everyone wants to say hello and pet him. They coo and offer compliments. Puppies are universal people magnets. Everyone wants to chat.
In terms of chatting, the conversations are very similar. “Oh, your puppy is so cute, what is his name?” “How old is he?” “He is getting so big.” “He reminds me of my dog when he was a puppy.” “Is he house trained yet?”
I am no different though. I know that Betsy, a four month old poodle, had surgery on her knee in May. I know that Becket, a 6 month old lab, is a wild maniac and is Diesel’s absolute favorite playmate. I know that Sasha, an older Portuguese Water Dog, walks around with a gross tennis ball hanging out of her mouth.
What I don’t know is anything about anyone’s life. It is all very perfunctory dog-talk. The owner of the cute Vischla could be a serial killer for all I know.
I am also amazed that everyone knows each other’s dogs name but not each other’s. The other morning, the owner of the poodle, actually introduced himself. I was so shocked I said thank you instead of telling him my name! I had made a note to myself weeks ago to tell other dog owners my name, but the circumstances rarely allow for such an exchange.
Let’s for a moment reflect on how dogs greet each other. They sniff each other’s behinds. What an unusual way to say hello. I imagine a conversation post sniffing would go like this:
Rover: “Diesel, I can smell that you had a new dog food for breakfast. How was it?”
Diesel: “Same food, new treat. It was delicious. They only give it to me when I sit though. Sometimes I just give a blank stare to piss them off.”
Rover: “Ah, yes. I do that too. It gave you an upset stomach though, huh?”
Diesel: “It did. But it was worth it.”
Then there is the matter of training. Everyone has an opinion. We have opted to attend classes at the Humane Society. Their philosophy is one of reinforcement. That means lots of treats. The first class was at night. They warned us not feed the dog before class. I did not heed this warning. I did not realize that Diesel would receive twice his weight in treats during class. Diesel is a model student. He masters the commands in class like a Mensa. The trainers are all impressed. Too bad when he gets home he reverts back to a dunce!
My favorite part of puppy-hood? Naps! Diesel likes to nap. I like to nap. Sometimes we nap together.
And finally, did you know that puppy’s ears are affected by teething? When we first brought Diesel home, his ears flopped over. Then one day they started to stick out. Last week, he woke up with one floppy ear and one ear sticking out. The teething strains the ear muscles and causes them to weaken, hence the floppy ear. The vet said they may even out. Or not.