“Jackson!” I yell.
Flippin’ dog. It’s 10:10. I’m tired. He’s been gone for 15 minutes now. Where the hell is he?
Then I hear it. The jingling sound of his collar, up the driveway, I hear him moving. Soon his paws crunching the gravel. Then I see him. Flying past me in a furry streak, he bounds up the porch, stands at the door, waiting for me to let him in. “Where you been?” I almost yell. He doesn’t answer. Doesn’t even look at me. I know what’s next. He’ll go up the stairs, beat me to bed and then – in the final insult – take my space on the bed.
My wife’s no help. “Aw… he just needs love.”
He needs a good kick in the ass.
This is my dog. Man’s best friend? Hardly the ringing example of loyalty I’d want others to emulate. Sure, he’ll come when you call him… IF he thinks he’s getting a treat. He’ll sidle up to you the way a cat does. Just letting you know he cares? More likely he’s demanding you scratch him behind the ears.
And don’t get me started on the couch. I’m settled in, feet up, watching a bit of what passes for televised entertainment. I get up for half a second, come back, and he’s curled up in my place on the couch. Obviously I was keeping it warm for him.
Then there’s the yell. Most dogs bark a bit. This dog yells.
“ROWR ur ROW row rooor ROWP” or something like that. He does this after you’ve left him. Go to the store for a few minutes, go to work, come back, and he’ll yell at you. Translated, it means, “I’m VERY upset at you for leaving me here alone.” Several times I’ve tried to explain to him the necessity of my going to work, especially if he enjoys eating food, having a couch to sleep on and a house to live in. It doesn’t work. He just yells at me again.
In the Disney movie One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the dogs Pongo and Perdita talk about “their humans.” After all, it was Pongo who manipulated his human, Roger, into taking that walk early in the film so his “pet” could find an “attractive mate. Roger never truly understood what was going on. But I get it.
Still, it’s not such a bad thing to be yelled at by your dog. I’d rather he yell at me than ignore me. At least he acknowledges my absence, even if it’s from his own egocentric perspective. He steals my spot on the couch, but he does vacate it when I tell him to move, leaving me a nicely warmed spot. And when he jumps on my lap… well, he’s lost some weight recently, so the 60 or so pounds of muscle, bone and hair do hurt a bit.
So permit me the occasional rant, especially if he’s chosen the moment right before bed to check out that log on the other side of the house. I know he can hear me, but he’s not moving until he knows I see him. If I get the flashlight and find him, he’ll come back.