Learning A Thing Or Two
From A Dog

G. C. Gigi George

© Copyright 2003 by G. C. Gigi George

Photo of a mixed breed dog riding with his head out a car window.

Dogs have always played a significant presence throughout my life. I've owned, dog-sat and saved them from a terrible feat. They have been my best friends and this story I'm about to tell you is no acceptence to how I feel about them.

You know I never thought I could learn something from a dog. I bet they could teach us some tricks of the trade that we’ve never considered. Humor me will you because I believe I’m right, or at least have a case in point.

A few years ago I went to the Humane Society to purchase a dog for a companion. I was lonely okay? I settled on a Mongrel or a Cross, meaning that he was a mix between two breeds of different genre of dogs. Don’t ask me what they were because even the Humane Society didn’t know. Things being the way they were, he was quite happy when we both came into contact with one another. I was gaining a new pet and he was acquiring a new home.

Now one of the things that Tony, that’s his name, likes to do is go for car rides. He sees them as going for joy rides and never passes them up. He just loves the experience of the wind blowing in his face. This is like pure ecstasy to him. I guess you have to be a dog to understand this. Then again, you can get the same effect if you put the top down of your car and just let her rip along the highway. Make sure to let your hair down so you get the full effect.

Ever since Tony and I have known one another, I can always count on him to greet me when I come home from work at the end of a day. I also welcome his wet kisses on my face. To me they are delightful and he loves to serenade me with them. I guess you have to be a dog lover to appreciate this, otherwise you might think this was utterly gross. However, this is one way a dog shows his affection and devotion for his mistress.

Now when it comes to practicing obedience, Tony is usually very good at it. He knows how to ‘Sit’, ‘Wait’, ‘Come’, ‘Stay’, ‘Heal’ and of course ‘Shake a Paw’. We should only be as obedient as he is. Ah well, I guess we fail in this department don’t we? On occasion however, he gets a temporary lapse and forgets how well behaved he really is with me. This seems to happen especially when he encounters another doggy that he wants to get to know better. I can tell you from experience that I suddenly don’t exist during this period of time. But I will be in plain sight hollering for him to come and what does he do but ignore my frantic calls. Eventually when he has socialized enough with his new acquaintance, he’ll come back to the fold. Thus, reprimanding him doesn’t do any good, but I’ll do it anyway to let him know that I’m not happy with his behavior. However, I know him too well because he’ll try doing this all over again and there’s not a thing I can do about it but love him all the more.

Through the years, Tony has established specific areas within our home where he likes to catch some zees or just relax. He especially favors darker areas where the light doesn’t rob or keep him from catching up on some quiet time, away from the human excitement. Thus, he’s very good at letting you know about his displeasure by turning his head away from you if you try to give him a friendly pat, or more directly motion with one of his front paws in a way that says: “Go away. Can’t you see that this is my space?” If it hasn’t occurred to you by then that you’re bothering him and you insist on standing your ground, he’ll seek out another space where he’s sure you won’t follow him. Tony’s got several that he has established as his very own territory. It’s sort of like having his own room or niche and they belong to him. Bottom line; don’t invade his space otherwise he will let you know about it.

You already know that my dog likes to take naps because I just finished telling you about it. But what I haven’t mentioned is that when he rises from having one of his restful slumbers is this; and he’s a real ham when it comes to performing or exaggerating about it. He’ll stretch it seems every muscle in his body, have a big yawn and then turn his attention to why he got up in the first place, which is usually an opportunity to go out and relieve himself with my keeping a close eye on him. While it’s not him I’m worried about rather, it’s other people like home owners, policemen and generally people who aren’t partial towards dogs such as mine who want to make extra sure that I pick-up after him. If you’re not following me here, everyone who owns a dog more or less knows that one has to pick-up after Rover or Sheba has had a bowel movement and then dispose of it in the nearest garbage can. Ah well, I suppose some of us see it as waste when we perform this very same task on a toilet and in a bathroom. At least our bums don’t hang out for all the world to see or end-up getting cold say in the dead of winter when we’re in dire need of going for a pee.

Now especially when the weather is good for running, romping and playing; my dog likes to run after a tennis ball or rough-house with another dog that he’s friendly with. He’ll also try to get me to chase after him and end up running himself silly. This usually takes up to a good hour until he’s all tuckered out, so be prepared to get into the action. If you are planning to join us, I would advise against wearing your best dress clothes for this activity. Dogs have a way of slobbering, drooling and planting their front paws with mud, grass, dirt, and any other stain you can think of on the front of your jacket. So if you don’t want a good jacket stained or drooled on, don’t wear it. Instead, put something on you can just toss into the wash, like an old sweat suit. I highly recommend them for this sort of action.

While my Tony is not known to always eat with gusto and enthusiasm, on occasion when he’s famished he’ll attack his food like there’s no tomorrow, thus devouring everything in sight or rather what’s in his dish. It helps to give him a little something to get him started like tuna fish or cheese, then there’s no stopping him. While he’s at it, take the precaution not to disturb him because he has been know to get distracted and walk off because you invaded his eating space in our kitchen. What can I say, he’s a finicky eater. All you need to do is disturb him once and he won’t come back no matter how hard you try to get him to finish what he started.

There is no doubt about it, I love my dog but he has been accused of being something he’s not. I am referring here to being a younger dog than he actually is. He is good looking, I’ll give him that but young, no ma’am. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know this by the way he runs himself in circles and never seems to stop until it’s time to go home. Other dog owners are amazed at his stamina because he is getting on in years. And of course, being a big dog has developed some Arthritis in his back leg. But there’s a simple solution to relieve this. It’s commonly known as Aspirin. Some of us humans pop one in our mouth like candy everyday or when we feel pain in our joints. Tony get one every so often so the pain doesn’t affect him so severely.

Now when I’m having a bad day; say because of work or I’m feeling under the weather; Feel free to add your own examples to my list here, Tony knows to be silent, sit close by and nuzzle me gently because his companionship helps me to get through the stress that I may be feeling. He has a way of silently re-assuring me that everything will be fine. Getting through whatever is affecting me is always difficult but less so when he becomes sensitive to my feelings. It’s also comforting when he comes to sit beside me and waits until the storm has passed. When he senses that I’m well again, Tony will be happy that whatever it was is gone.

The mood of feeling joyful for whatever reason is a delight. We should all feel this way especially when participating in such a simple activity as: Walking. Tony will tell you that he always likes to go for walks preferably long ones because this gives him ample opportunity to meet other dogs. They dance around one another, smell each other’s bum and leave messages so other doggies know that they’ve been here.

Through the years Tony has established certain friendship with other doggies that he gets along with; like Ashton the Wheaten Terrier Cross or Duke a Black Labrador. They socialize circling one another while the adults talk and find out; ‘What’s new and exciting’, and of course the dogs get their share of a good back rub from everyone involved. However, my dog prefers the attention from a human more so than any dog. One friendly pat from anyone new or old instantly makes you his best friend and he expects you not to stop. This is why Tony thrives on attention and loves it when people touch him.

While my dog has never been known to bite other dogs, he is quite capable of letting them know when he doesn’t like them by “snapping” at them. This involves a sharp bark that is very short which immediately stops the other dog’s activity in his tracks. This type of behavior acts as a warning to the other dog, similarly how a growl would be a message not to venture any further or else. His “snapping” behavior has proven to be very effective or so I think. Thus, I’ve learned through the years that if Tony needs to assert himself, this is how he does it.

As the days of summer will be upon us soon, I can always count on my dog to lie in the shade and drink lots of water so he doesn’t become dehydrated. I also take him to a have a summer hair-cut so the fur coat he sports all year round is not as hot for him especially on very humid days. Thus, when I go to pick him up from the dog boutique he looks like a different dog. People who know him always ask, “Is that Tony?” because he looks like he’s been transformed into another dog but he’s the same old Tony who loves to run after a tennis ball and always welcomes a friendly pat from people.

Now no matter how hard I’ve tried to criticize Tony, he’s never bought into the idea because he knows I love him and I’m the one he runs to when he’s in trouble; say for instance if someone has accused him of some wrongdoing.

This is where I come to a close to a portrait that I have painted of the most loveable creature that I
have had in my life, my dog, Tony. He is funny, good- looking, obstinate at times, is a flirt, knows
how to show-off for visitors and people that he meets, asserts himself when need be and is sensitive
when he know I need him to be this way. A mongrel you say? That’s him, my big, black lovable
companion. Tony.

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