The other day I saw a man walking his dog down the street very early in the morning. He was wearing a bathrobe and literally was walking with his eyes closed. I realized that I knew exactly what he felt like, and I further guessed that there are many common experiences that dog owners share which are special and unique. Here are some of my favorites; please add your own!
- The morning sleepy walk. (Most) dogs have no problem waking up super early, if it only means they get fed. Mine is particularly accurate with respect to her internal breakfast alarm; she is rude enough to even start scratching on doors if she's not walked and fed by 8:30am. What a nerve.
You know the morning sleepy walk I'm talking about: Throw on a robe or go out in your PJs; be blinded by the sunlight as you walk out first thing in the morning; check your email while stumbling down the street after your dog; bend over to scoop up any goodies she leaves.
- Begging for food. Some dogs can be polite, and some can be very forward with their food requests. Some will dance, some will do tricks, and some will literally push you to move towards the cabinet where you keep their food. Talk about confidence!
- Salivating on guests. You're hosting a nice, dressy party or just have some guests over randomly. Yeah, great timing for your dog to get worked up and start sweating and salivating all over the place (but that's when it always happens). Saliva on guests, on your nice pants, on the couch, on the floor. Maybe dogs think we like it?
- Being lazy on a rug or sofa and not coming when called. You're running 5 minutes late and need to leave the house ASAP. You realize the dog needs a walk and so you call it down. That's exactly when it's least likely to come; it's snoozing softly somewhere, and it feigns poor hearing until you literally come up and give it the look. Attitude!
- Shaking their whole body after a bath or rain and getting you all wet. Dogs have special muscles in their back meant just for shaking their entire body in rapid succession to maximize the amount they can soak you.
- Smelling another dog's genitals and putting you in an uncomfortable position with respect to the other dog walker. You're walking Fido down the street and some strange-looking (or maybe attractive?) person is walking their dog towards you. After the initial awkward is-this-other-dog-going-to-kill-me check, the dogs start smelling each other's rear ends. Then your eyes meet the other person's, and it's always uncomfortable. Do you make your dog stop? Do you try to smell the other person? Do you apologize? Do you run away as fast as possible?
- Washing and refilling dog bowls. The food bowl, the water bowl, the travel bowl, the dog bed, the dog towel, the dog tag necklace, the dog toys -- all this paraphernalia that requires constant maintenance for one simple creature. How about it take care of itself once in a while?
- Going "shopping" at Petco and thinking about all the toys you would want as a dog and realizing your dog may have different preferences. Petco for me is like a toy store; so much new-smelling, colorful stuff, even snacks that look like human food. I love how they make it pleasant for dogs and humans alike.
- Sneezing when smelling second-hand smoke. While humans have to just put up with it or move away respectfully, dogs can just sneeze loudly and proudly of their hate of cigarette smoke.
- Jumping up on your shoulders to greet you. This is always fun, unless you're carrying something fragile. In any case, it's nice to feel loved and wanted, even by a four-legged creature.
- Rolling onto their back to help facilitate belly scratching. Dogs are so smart; they can calculate and optimize the perfect angle to keep their body to maximize scratching and petting sensation.
- Picking up dog poo and carefully negotiating with the swinging bag surface, keeping track mentally of every surface and bag fold between what's clean and what's dirty. No one wants brown fingers, especially before having to eat breakfast, so figuring out how to do the most delicate maneuvers with a bag of poo is one of the first things we learn as dog owners. The other awkwardness comes when you run into others you know on your way to the trash and have to somehow greet them carrying a bag of poo. Wonderful.
- Playing tricks on you to get you to finish a walk faster and give them food. If I'm trying to get my dog to walk more or poo, I just keep walking farther and farther, and at some point, my dog just gives me this dramatic chipmunk look like, "are you crazy?" Once that fails, it starts to dig its nails into the ground and pull back on its leash. Once that fails, it finally decides to take a few steps onto some grass before immediately swerving backwards and trying to walk home (in basketball, this is a pump fake). This is all in order to come home and get fed faster.
- Understanding situations and coming to comfort you or give you space when you're packing. Dogs can sense very early if their owner is leaving or sad or hurt. It's amazing when they're able to show this level of compassion and how they express it.
- Nuzzling up against you and petting themselves against your legs or hands. Face it: your dog is using you like an object, and you're just its walking, feeding massage chair.
- Snoozing next to you while you're working. This is perhaps the most peaceful and gentle expression of love from a dog, and it's a wonderful moment to appreciate.