Tuesday, June 21, 2011

For the Love of Two Dachshunds...

I think that no matter how much I try to be mistress of my two dogs, it is really they who are the mistresses of me.

I don’t think that’s exactly a surprise.

It’s actually more of a situation that I find occurs with cat owners. In my experience, cats never belong to a human being. Instead, the human being belongs to them.

This is a situation I’ve tried to avoid with my dachshunds. However, I think it might be time to face the truth. Even though I pay the bills, clean the house and feed them, I do, occasionally, feel a little like a sucker.

For example, I’ve mentioned that Rory has lately taken to protesting the heat by sitting down when we’re out for a walk. The walk usually occurs after I’ve already decided it’s too hot and rather than have to deal with a stubborn dachshund, it would be better for us all if we bypass the walk in the heat and just spend time in the garden.

Unfortunately, at about the same time every evening, I am approached by Rory and Sookie who go and sit by the front door, expectantly. They know it’s time for walkies and no matter what I do, they will either sit and stare at me in reproach or follow me around, accusingly, until I give in and walk them.

This may not sound like much of a threat but, trust me, of all the dog breeds out there, dachshunds, in my opinion, are among the most talented at making you feel horribly sad and guilty just by looking at their big, sad, pathetic eyes.

So, I usually give in and take them for a walk. As anticipated, Rory sits down at certain points of the walk because she’s hot. She prefers to sit on longer grassy patches under a tree. I’m sure this is because it’s fairly cool compared to the heat of the pavement.

It was a nuisance but I usually managed to get her moving.

Then Sookie seemed to decide that “if Rory’s doing it, I will too.” And she, too, began to simply lie down when we’d walked enough and she got hot.

This was a wee bit embarrassing, as you can imagine. However, I could eventually get them up and moving. A squirrel or bird got them moving more quickly. It’s amazing how fast they could recover from their ‘heatstroke’ that caused them to lie down when a squirrel scampered by.

Then, last week, it got worse. Rory would not budge. She stubbornly refused to walk any further and plonked herself down on all fours, back feet kicked out in the irritatingly cute way she sits and that was it.

Thus, I ended up carrying her. Sookie, fortunately, walked along behind us while I carried Rory.

Yes, I was a little embarrassed. Well, more than a little embarrassed. When you’re out for a walk with your dogs, it makes far more sense when they actually walk.

I ended up putting Rory down and making her walk the last 50 feet to our house on her own legs. Nevertheless, it taught me a valuable lesson that when it’s hot, no matter how pleading the eyes, we will NOT go for a walk because, in the end, I will most likely be the only one walking.

Last night, on our walk, it was thankfully cooler and I had only one ‘sitting down’ incident which ended up actually being Rory relieving herself and not actually sitting. Oops.

We did, however, have another incident. Someone had thrown some type of pork bone outside one of the houses along our walk. Because I don’t usually look down at the ground when I walk, I didn’t notice it until Rory seized it and started to chomp on it.

I hate when this happens. I mentioned in an earlier blog that we’re always running into chicken wing bones and that irritates me. Those also worry me because in addition to it being rather vile when one of the girls tries to eat it, I know chicken bones are bad for dogs because they splinter.

I’m not happy that my dogs eat bones that they find. However, the reality is that they’re dogs and, well, that’s what dogs do. They like to eat bones. Dogs eat bones. Cat eat fish. At least this is what cartoons have portrayed for many years.

Anyway, when I saw Rory with the pork bone, I did not really want her to eat it because, well, you don’t know where that bone had been. So, as I usually do with the chicken bones, I showed her the treat I had for her to try to get her to drop the bone. This usually works 75% of the time. The other 25%, I try to grab the bone from her mouth, toss it away and give her a treat instead.

That didn’t work last night. Instead, Rory bit down on my fingers and I ended up with two puncture wounds and she ended up with the bone.

The wounds weren’t deep but I was a little upset. I knew instantly that it was an accident and my fingers were just in the way of her bone. It was a little silly to reach into her mouth anyway- normally, I don’t have to- I can grab the piece of bone that’s sticking out of her mouth and gently pry it away.

We were almost home when she found the bone. By the time we got home, my finger was bleeding, I was upset that my little pup had bitten me even though I knew it was my fault and I was just generally feeling horrible.

Rory, being the smart creature she is, knew she’d done something wrong. I tried not to be upset with her but it was hard because my feelings were hurt. It’s the same type of hurt I felt when they escaped out of the gate for the first time when I brought them home: Rationally, I knew that they didn’t understand and were just hunting prey. Irrationally, I felt like they were trying to get away from me.

Last night, even though I rationally knew Rory didn’t mean to hurt me, the irrational side of my brain was hurt anyway. I was bleeding and my little ball of fluff had bitten me because of a stupid bone.

I tried very hard to stay mad at her but, well, as I said, I’ve realized she’s really the mistress of me and as she attempted to cram as much of her body up against me in the strange way she has when she needs comfort and love, I realized that I was being silly. As such, a few mouth cleansing biscuits later, we’d made up.

I suppose that it’s like any relationship that involves unconditional love: No matter what she does, I can’t help but love her and forgive her. As I said, she didn’t mean to do it and she made sure I knew she was sorry. Sookie, meanwhile, just watched us in the way she has. She gets very serious and watches me solemnly, trying to figure out if I’m a) ok, b) angry with HER and c) willing to give her a cuddle to prove everything’s ok.

I know, I know…my dogs are spoiled rotten. I know this. I can’t help this. This is why I end up carrying my poor, lazy, heat-suffering pup a block or two instead of dragging her along on a leash. This is why I often end up stuck in a small corner of my bed while my two dogs stretch out and make themselves comfy. This is why my dogs have an overflowing toy box including a new orange monkey because I couldn’t resist.

Yet for all that I give them, they do give it back to me. This morning, I woke up to discover Rory lying parallel to me, her head on my pillow and her nose just very barely touching mine, her eyes watching me sweetly, waiting for me to wake. For non-dog lovers/owners, that sounds weird but, for me, it makes me feel very loved and needed.

And no matter who the mistress of the house really is, that’s worth every treat I give them.

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