b Papa Dog's Blog: Of Course, He'll Sleep in the Yard

Papa Dog's Blog

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Of Course, He'll Sleep in the Yard

A correspondence today with Arak SOT reminded me that I haven’t posted much about Doggy Dog lately. Mama Dog and I have been worrying that Doggy’s shrift has grown short of late, and this seems to be just one more arena where his profile has waned since our household grew. A friend of Mama Dog’s a few years ahead of us on the baby track once told her that when he first had a dog, it was the centre of his life; after he had a child, it was again just a dog. I don’t think we feel quite that way about Doggy Dog. He’s still a very special and important member of our family. But there’s no denying that his status has slipped substantially, as have the comforts to which he was once accustomed. He doesn’t get as many walks as he used to. He doesn’t get as much attention as he used to. He hasn’t had an off leash walk since I don’t know when. His meals come late, he never gets brushed, he’s always getting told to move his bum out of the way, and his doggie bed was ignominiously shoved out of sight for the time that Baby Dog bunked in our room. Our good and noble beast has suffered many indignities and slights in the last seven and a half months, and we can be thankful only for the loyalty of a dog that he wants so keenly to stay with us.

With that in mind, I choose to share with you tonight a vintage Doggy Dog story which, if this were a 1960s Marvel comic, would have to be called – THE ORIGIN OF DOGGY DOG!

Doggy Dog first came into our life in February of 2002. We had been thinking for a while of getting a dog and Mama Dog had been spending an inordinate amount of time cruising doggy porn on the Internet, most specifically the website of The Milo Foundation, a fine and upstanding local animal rescue society. Every weekend, Milo would bring adoptable pets to one site or another in the East Bay, and the best thing was that you could look on the web to preview the animals that would be in attendance. They showed (and still show) photos of most of the critters and accompanied them with little biographical sketches that always made them sound very appealing and very genuinely in need of rescue. We went one day to north Berkeley to look specifically at a dog named Dingo who turned out somewhat less appealing in person than his photo and bio made him out to be. We had seen the photo of Doggy Dog, but hadn’t really marked him for serious consideration. He was everything Mama Dog said she didn’t want in a dog: large and long-haired. Inexplicably, it was love at first sight. We took him for a test walk up 4th Street. We so wanted this particular dog that we hurriedly had a fence built on the open end of our yard, something we’d been meaning to do since moving into the house the previous year, but which we’d always lacked the motivation to accomplish. We took Doggy Dog home for a weekend’s trial fostering, and we’ve had him ever since.

We didn’t know it, but the slippery slope had already begun. Before Doggy Dog entered our home – before we even knew what dog we’d eventually end up with – Mama Dog had proclaimed, “Of course he’ll sleep in the yard.” No voluminously shedding undercoat would carpet our floors. That’s what’s known as theory. Practice turned out to be quite different. Doggy Dog had been with us for all of ten minutes before it was clear that the “living in the yard” thing wasn’t destined to work out. He’s half Akita, and it seems to be the dominant half. Akitas are very family oriented. They want to be with their people at all times. If we weren’t in the yard, Doggy Dog had no interest in being there, either. He wanted to be with us in the house, keeping tabs, making sure nobody was trying to infringe our personal rights. To serve and protect, that’s the Doggy Dog motto.

“Okay,” quoth Mama Dog, “he can stay in the house. But he has to stay off the furniture.” That seemed reasonable enough, and reasonably easy to ensure. Doggy Dog would look longingly at the couch from time to time, but he never dared encroach upon it. Or so we smugly assumed. After a while we started to notice that the blankets or pillows on the couch would be mysteriously disturbed when we came home from a movie or a restaurant. “Any idea who did that?” I’d ask Doggy Dog. Dutifully, he’d run to the back door to seek out the pillow-moving intruder.

“Okay,” quoth Mama Dog, “he can get on the couch. But he can only do it when we put a special doggy blanket over it.” I shrugged. I could see where this was headed. Mama Dog could see too, though she wasn’t about to admit it. Doggy Dog could see where it was headed. Stevie Wonder could see where it was headed if he stopped by for a game of Parcheesi. Doggy Dog snuggled up on the couch on his blanket to his heart’s delight. Alas, it’s not a simple matter for a dog to snuggle up on a blanket on a couch, particularly a big dog. There is tramping down that must be done. There is requisite pawing. Most importantly, several circles must be described before the body can be lowered with a groan. In the process, the role of blanket as couch protector is rendered somewhat abstract. Sometimes, by the time the dog is satisfied, the blanket seems to have disappeared entirely.

“Okay,” quoth Mama Dog, when the couch was covered with dog hair beyond all hope of recovery anyway, “he can get on the couch without the blanket. But he’s never getting on the bed.”

It was not long after that when I found Mama Dog lying on the bed reading a book, stroking the dog as he lay sprawled out beside her. She looked up from the book. “He’s not getting under the covers,” she said. “I draw the line there.”

(“Of course he’ll sleep in the yard” became our personal code phrase for “a slippery slope.” When Ambrose stayed here two Octobers ago, Mama Dog decreed that he could stay only one night, maybe two. When Ambrose proved to be less obtrusive and irritating than expected, she relented and let him stay another day. And another. He stayed a week. “Of course,” I said, “he’ll sleep in the yard.”)

Last night, we were watching 24 on video. Baby Dog was asleep, work was done, the dishes were on, and my shoes were off. Mama Dog and I arranged ourselves on the couch for the night’s mindless thrill ride. Doggy Dog stood panting at us, eyes shining with unfocused longing. “Let’s let him up on the couch,” Mama Dog said. I tried to think when the last time might be that he’d come up on the couch, and couldn’t. With Mama Dog home all day it’s harder for him to sneak up. “Okay,” I said, and patted the spot between us. “Come on up.” He gave his enthusiastic groan, popped his front paws up on the back cushions and pulled himself up. He worked his way around into a position that couldn’t have been all that comfortable, but in which he was touching us both and could see us both clearly. The way he’s meant to.

(And here, in my most dramatic break yet with my policy of anonymity, is Doggy Dog in more carefree days in his favoured spot.)


Blogger ArakSOT said...

Much better, thankew. You know I've never actually met Doggy Dog (or Baby Dog for that matter), so let us fix that next time I'm out that way.

9:47 AM  

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