Puppy Love = Tough Love

What do you suppose goes on in a dog’s mind?

My brother’s 4-month-old pup trots around my place and his thought process and reasoning are totally absurd. Let me start by explaining the dog gets it. He’s a purebred lab with champ bloodlines. He picks up on tricks quickly. He was housetrained within one week. Obviously he has a brain in that rapidly growing head of his.

But then you see him vigorously chasing his own tail, gnawing on it on the days he’s agile enough to catch it.

“Buddy” has toys – balls, sticks, bones, and once-stuffed animals that are now torn to shreds – lying around the house for his chewing pleasure. He knows these toys are for him and he knows what’s off-limits.

He has learned everything else – how to come, sit, lie down, stay, where to go to the bathroom. But it appears as though someone also trained him how to irritate the hell out of me. The funny thing is, he doesn’t prey on his master’s stuff. He wants to steal my stuff. And frankly, I’m tired of feeling like my bedroom is a Stop-N-Go.

Yet, no matter how many times I hit him on the head and tell him “no,” he has a perfect record for sneaking into my room and fetching a slipper.

Yes, I’m a princess.

So I hide my slippers. Take THAT, you little rascal!

He runs back into my room and proudly comes out with a mitten.

Does he think I’m going to change my mind?

Ripping my mitten out of his mouth, I yell at him, tap him on the nose and try to distract him with a toy. It’s not long before I become distracted and he escapes to my bedroom closet again, returning with a pair of socks, his head hanging as low as his neck will allow. He knows it’s wrong, and I think he thinks keeping a low profile makes him invisible.

“How about this time…?”

Just brave enough to look at me out of the corner of his eye, he reminds me of a man walking into an AA meeting with a beer in his hand.

“Sorry guys. I just couldn’t resist it any longer.”

So I make sure to shut my sock drawer completely every day, three times per day.

I have sweaty feet.

Then he comes out with unmentionables from my laundry basket. Let me just say, it’s not at all awkward to have my brother hand me my own underwear, used and slightly chewed.

Yeah, that’s gross.

And somehow I’m the one who ends up apologizing for the regular occurrence.

“Sorry your dog stole my stuff, brought it downstairs and chewed it up and now it’s covered with puppy teeth indents and drool.”

The little guy is relentless. How could he learn everything else so quickly, but continue to pick on me in what seems like an intentional way? The only reasonable conclusion is that the pup has it out for me.

Yes. He spends several hours locked in his kennel during the day to prevent my home from looking and smelling like a garbage truck. Then, when the workday ends, I let the pup out of the kennel. I’m the first one he sees and therefore I’m not the good guy, I’m the bad guy who didn’t come home three hours earlier to let little mister out to do his business and sniff his old businesses.

And so, I’ve concluded he devises an agenda each day which includes an experiment of what makes me angriest.

“Is it chewing the corner of her nice, white bathroom rug or knocking over that stupid plant stand in the corner? What does she do if I nibble on her computer cord? Her knitting project? How will she react when I steal a roll of her toilet paper, unravel it and chew it into itty bitty teeny weeny pieces, spread it all over the stairs and get stuck in my teeth and the back of my throat so I can spend the next three days coughing it up and pooping it out?”

It has become very apparent that the name “Buddy” may not be appropriate.

I swear… I’m one step away from pouring Tabasco sauce over everything I own.

Then again, if he willingly eats curtains and cell phones, he’ll probably be partial to hot sauce.

Damn Dog.

Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.

6 Responses

  1. DogLover

    He’s a puppy for cryin out loud! If he’s locked in his kennel for “hours” at a time he’s only releasing all that puppy energy. Shut your bedroom door if you don’t want him in there. His brain right now is like a sponge – it will soak up every bit of information, good and bad, so be careful how you treat him… Treating puppies badly only turns puppies into bad dogs and this is not their fault, it’s how they’re raised by humans. It takes patience to train a dog and some of the things you’ve said here sounds like you maybe don’t have the patience to have a dog in your home. Whatever possessed you to allow your brother to bring a dog into your home?? I’ve had many puppies over the years and yes they can be a handful but they’re also a joy and bring a lot of love into a home but they have to be raised the right way…. patience and yes discipline (the right way) should be your and your brother’s number one priority. Bopping him on his nose and giving him hot sauce is not the right way to train a puppy. He may not be your dog but he’s living in your home – you’re as much of an influence on him as your brother is. Guess I’m just tired of hearing about “bad” dogs. There is no such thing as a bad dog – only bad training.

    1. I in no way implied that I didn’t think the pup would be a handful. We are being patient and are both very excited for him to reach an older age where he’ll be easier to handle. In the meantime we’re doing our best to train him right.

      I didn’t say he was a bad dog either. I said he was very smart and I don’t understand why he picks up on some things very easily, and others he hasn’t learned.

      The hot sauce was a joke.

      The winter was tough for us, but we both agree having the dog in the spring, summer and fall months will be much easier!

  2. DogLover

    I should have rephrased that last sentence and I apologize – I know you didn’t call him a bad dog… I was referring to the “bad dog” label that some people put on their dogs as they’re dropping them off at shelters…. And please don’t assume I think that’s what you’re going to do. I just love dogs, all dogs and I get a little touchy… And you’re right, having a pup in the winter is much harder than spring, summer and fall. It’ll get easier… especially now that spring (hopefully) is here.

  3. Dog Lover Too

    What I got from this column was that dogs can be very intelligent. “Buddy” from the column, has proven he is very intelligent, yet he is unable or unwilling to understand what not to chew on. Therefore, I would assume “Buddy” might to be disciplined so he understands the rules of the home in which he lives. Discipline is the key to any dog I have trained. You want a dog to respect you, not be your friend. “Buddy” needs to respect the rules of his home and his roommates!

    1. The first DogLover posting on this blog, is insane. Please do not read light hearted blogs that are obviously not what you twist them to be in your narrow mind. Puppies, no matter how much you love them will be a pain at times and it’s ok to vent about that. Sounds like you have bigger problems than puppies.

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