I have a greater understanding of the phrase, “you can’t live with ‘em, you can’t live without ‘em.” We’ve been vacationing in Florida this past week. Though we’ve had a great time, I’m missing my buddies Jake and Brody. They stayed behind with our sitter.
I miss Brody’s watchful eyes as he follows me everywhere, and him yanking me along as he walks on a leash. I miss Jake trotting faithfully by my side with a slack leash, and coaxing him out of hiding so we can pen him up.
It amazes me how treat oriented dogs are. They will preform any task for the reward. Brody is no exception. Though we haven’t taught him a host of tricks, his go-to stunt is sitting up on his hind legs and dropping his front paws. Perhaps he believes he’s too cute to resist (and he’s right).
At our house treats fall into two categories, “treats” and “chew-chews.” The mere mention of the word “chew-chew” evokes mayhem. Brody and Jake will go nuts for 1/2 a chicken substitute chew (comparable to rawhide but better for their digestive system). For Brody, its barking and a classic pose. Jake spins round and round, joining in the chorus of barks.
As a pet owner I use this love for treats to my advantage whenever possible. If our dog gets loose outside, I mention the word “treats” and abracadabra he comes back. When we are in a hurry to leave the house and Jake goes into hiding, “treats” brings him out. After a long day at work and I simply want to collapse on the couch I have been known to utter the word “chew-chew.” Jake and Brody’s pleas for attention evaporate and order is restored to the universe.
Brody is the first dog I’ve owned that “rings a bell” when he wants to go outside. He doesn’t actually ring a bell. Attached to our back door is a set of horizontal blinds extending to within a foot of the floor. Brody rattles them when wants to go outside. If my wife and I are watching TV and fail to heed the sound of the rattling blinds, he will jump up on the couch, climb in my lap and start licking my hands or face. If that doesn’t attract the necessary attention he gets back off the couch and moves to a spot on the living room floor halfway halfway between the couch and the back door and starts barking.
“He’s a smart dog,” you might be inclined to say. But when Brody is bored he does this five or six times in the span of half an hour and it becomes like a game.
Once outside it’s our hope Brody will do his business. The matter gets complicated if it’s raining. I’ve never seen a dog so inhibited to walk on wet grass in the rain. He will walk the full length of our garden retaining wall, touching down on the wet grass only after I exhort him continually. Yes, I have to don rain gear and stand out there with him to keep him from sneaking up onto the back porch before the job is done.
Snow is a different matter, Brody loves it. During the winter months he signals us more than ever, anxious to go outside and frolic in the white stuff.
Taking a walk with Brody is a unique and sometimes embarrassing experience. There is a prelude that occurs when I start putting on my shoes and coat. Brody thinks I’m taking him for a walk regardless of what Im actually planning to do. He whines and howls quite flamboyantly. If I happen to grab his leash, he begins barking loudly, right in my ear as I’m bending down to clip it on his collar. Getting Jake ready to accompany us on our outing is no easy task. Brody bounces up and down, barks, howls and interferes with my effort to leash Jake. I have tangled leashes before I even get the door open.
Brody greats the outside world with incessant barking as we set off. While Jake trots faithfully at my side, Brody darts back and forth yanking on the leash. Just about everything we encounter Brody deems worthy of a bark; holiday decorations-bark; garbage cans at the curb-bark, bark; a pedestrian out for a stroll-bark, bark, bark! If that pedestrian happens to have a dog in tow, Brody launches into a barking frenzy.
The embarrassing part of the walk occurs when I attempt to reign him in to stop him from barking. As I bend down and pull him close, he yipes like he’s been hit by a car. Oh, well. We do love you Brody! It’s a good thing you’re so cute!
It’s been a while since I shared a Brody update. I can assure you that he is alive, well and full of himself. I refer to Jake and Brody as “brothers” though the only thing they have in common is that they are both long-hair mini dachshunds. Jake is 10 years older than Brody but you wouldn’t know it when they are rough-housing around the house. They do tend to look out for one another, whether they’re penned up, relaxing on the sofa or out for a walk. They also eat and drink from the same bowls without fighting.
Their camaraderie gets cloudy, however, when treats or toys are introduced into the equation. I’m careful to give each dog the same item but within minutes each creature immediately wants the other’s prize without letting go of the one they already possess. It’s a funny thing to watch two dogs vie for the other’s prize but not quite so funny when we look at our own lives and see something similar happening.
I need to be reminded once in a while to be content with what I have already.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6