Friday, April 19, 2013

I'm a Dog Person (Dammit)

From the time I was 3 and was toppled by my Grandpa's excited farm dog, I have not liked dogs. I did have a brief moment of insanity when I was 12 when I pontificated about the perfect dog…big enough to wrestle, but not too big…something like a collie but not the Lassie kind. Luckily, by the time I was 16 I came back to my senses that I just don't like dogs…or kids (they're really the same, aren't they?).

For  the next 27 years I happily stood by that statement. Don't like dogs and don't like kids. Sure I had my own kids along the way and to my surprise I actually do love them. But, I figured it was because they were my responsibility...or because they are like a parasitic organism; once they attach themselves to the host, the host becomes delusional and wants to make the parasites happy and comfortable. My evidence? Because every other kid (and dog) I ever saw annoyed me.

Then one day it happened.

I was betrayed.

First by my oldest son. He talked for nearly a year about how much he wanted a dog…how much the dog would make him happy, give him a constant companion, and other elements from his "How to emotionally blackmail your parents in 3 easy steps".

Second, and most surprising, … I was betrayed by my own self. I actually said out loud, "I could see getting a dog" (dammit). Why? WHY did that come out? Further, why didn't it bother me!?! 

Third, by my wife. Even if I was being mentally hijacked by my son, at least my wife, who I installed as a failover backup parental system, would cover my lapse in verbal filtering and we'd still be safe.

"Well, here are the parameters you should look for on", she said.


Ah well, I thought. Most of our kids were surprises, so why not a dog? I think we hoped this new animal would help our oldest with responsibility, companionship, and all the other therapeutic aspects a dog is supposed to have on a teenager.

On January 12, 2013, on my son's 16th birthday, Orchid arrived.

And then something absurd happened.

No, not absurd, but troubling, vile, evil

I started enjoying the pup.

A lot. (Dammit)

I found that training her to be a better pup made me smile and laugh harder than I have in a very long time.

I found deep joy when she crossed her paw across my foot while we watched TV.

I started being OK with holding her, letting her lick my hand, my arm, even my face!

I praised her when she went poo…IN MY YARD!!!

I looked forward to games of fetch where I could whip a ball as far as I could and she'd race after it...prancing back like she was "Queen of the Ball" (yes...I know...nice wordplay) and drop it in front of me (in exchange for a treat).

I thought nothing of holding liver treats...WET liver treats...from her slobber in one hand, clicker in the other, while training her.

Now, we have a near-daily regimen that involves: sit, stay (with distance and duration), wait, OK (her release command), lay down, come, shake, high five, high ten, drop it, leave it, walk (loose leash, off leash), go get it, return, put away, get your , jump (over me), roll over, and play dead.

Does she have them all in every circumstance? 

Not at all..and that's the fun part: We're both on a journey to see how far and deep this relationship can go, and training seems to be very enjoyable for both of us. I'm learning about other areas of my life as well because of this creature, and I'm sure I'll mention those over time.


Am I a dog person now? to be honest, I don't know…I might be (dammit).

But, I can tell you one thing:

I am definitely an Orchid person.

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