Blooming Bosco

 Image

Over the past two weeks, Bosco has learned the most important lesson there is:
 
His person is batshit crazy. Late spring brought an activity that he cannot comprehend: Gardening.
 
I love to play in the dirt, and gardening is the socially acceptable way to do that. When Bosco moved in last August, the plants were at their full maturity. My favorite photo in the whole world is of him on his second day home, sitting in the garden. But Bosco didn’t know that the garden didn’t plant itself.
ImageNow it’s planting time. I started two weeks ago, by preparing and repairing. I had to fix a fence that was no longer vertical, and replace a huge lattice system that Sandy ripped down.
 
This meant that I’d be spending the better part of the day outside. And I thought that this might be a good way to help Bosco get over his dislike of the back yard. I think I mentioned before that the noise from my neighbors makes him nervous. A few hours outside – discovering that regardless of the noise, nothing was going to get him – might help him feel more secure.
 
I hauled out all my tools, and saw that “Mr. I pick things up I put them down” was very interested in them. I had a flashback to 20 years ago, when my Dad’s dog chose to relocate  the wrench and bolts he needed to put the oil pan back on the car. So I told Bosco that he had a very important job – to make sure none of the tools moved. 
 
He took this responsibility very seriously, and not a single item was misplaced – because he sat on my tools.  Getting them out from under him wasn’t particularly efficient, but it beats desperately hunting for a drill bit.
 

ImageThe fun began this past week, when the actual digging and planting started.  He was extremely confused when flats of annuals took up his yard. I planted for a couple of  hours after work, and Bosco was with me.  We did not have the greatest success. He thought this was the stupidest thing ever. 

Image If you look closely, you can see his mad pointy eyebrows. It was almost 9 pm, and everyone knows that Bosco goes to bed at 7:30.
 
On Saturday, he hung out on his cushion all day and supervised.  Everyone in my neighborhood was an active participant in providing random noise, and it didn’t faze him at all. Each time I went inside, I gave him the choice to stay in or go back out, and he chose out every time. This also meant he was awake for twelve straight hours.
 
He hit his limit on Sunday. It was wet, and he was hungry. He decided to eat grass and hurled, which really upset him. And the hillbillies down the block were in rare form, which really really upset him. He pawed on the back door, begging to go in.
 
I was afraid that we’d tried too much, and undid the amazing progress we’d achieved the day before. But after supper, he asked to go out again, and wandered around smelling the flowers.
 ImageBosco likes gardening.

#^%*!

Sleeping is serious business for Bosco.

Sleeping is serious business for Bosco.

Special irony must be noted – I’m writing this while leaning against The Golden Theatre, about half block from where I first met Bosco. He’s home sleeping. Or pouting. Or both.

Okay, every blog I’ve written has been about progress. This time we’re talking about a little different type.

I’ve been so proud of how Bosco’s confidence is growing and growing. But I’m not praising his latest boost.  Last week he growled at me.

And Bosco learned no matter how confident he gets, he will not be top dog.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me dial back the drama. Here’s the big picture:

As you know, he’s adorable. As you know, I can’t keep myself from cuddling the stuffing out of him. And this dog is VERY serious about his sleep. He puts himself to bed every night at 7:30, and he’s done. The only way to move him then is with a leash and firm commands.

Every night  I spend a few minutes before I go to bed cuddling him. I hunker down and pet him and tell him he’s a good boy. This is usually just before midnight, and he wakes up when I come upstairs, and he gets his cuddling. I always thought he liked it.

But not last week. Maybe he was on edge because nice weather brings squealing children outside and back into his environment (neither of us are particularly fond of them, but alas, their parents seem to want them to play in the sunshine). Maybe he was  mad ‘cuz I’ve been sitting on the sofa and working instead of cuddling him, and when I finally have time for him, he’s not in the mood (God I made that sound like a marriage, didn’t I?). Maybe he decided it’s time to tell me that he hates it when I nod off with my head on his bed.

All very valid points, but he missed the main one. He is not in charge. Not for a single second.

So….

I will admit that I was a little scared when it first happened. It was a very soft growl, and I had to double check to be sure I was hearing it. The look on his face was the same as when he found green beans in his mouth, so I knew it was serious.

My first thought was that I had no clue what the time frame was between Bosco’s warning, and a physical reaction (if there was going to be one). I probably withdrew for a few seconds, which gave him the impression that growling works. I gathered myself, gave him the “no finger” in his face, and spoke sternly. And then I put myself right back where I had been when it started, figuring I didn’t want him to think he’d won.  A few minutes later I resumed cuddling.

And he growled again. Again, we had a firm conversation about roles and responsibilities in our household.  He seemed to get it, and gathered himself for five minutes of cuddling before I turned off the light (oh geeze, that sounds like a BAD marriage!).

The next morning we sat on the sofa together, and had our regular cuddle session. And he growled. I know his issue was that he felt pinned in the corner, but let’s remember – this is nothing new, and he doesn’t get to respond that way.

So again he was reprimanded – more forcefully. I hooked my hand through his collar so he had to look at me. I used the same words as the night before. I kept my voice low and firm. But this time I added a twist – every other word was the f-bomb. That’s what happens when I get mad. Bosco’s never seen me mad.

Here’s what I learned – Bosco knows the f-word. And my meaning sunk in.

Don’t get me wrong – I recognize that solving this issue is totally a two-way street. I have modified my cuddling enthusiasm, and do ease off when he starts getting uncomfortable. But I don’t let him think the two actions are connected.  And I let sleeping dogs lie.

This was a minor hiccup, and our issues have passed. Bosco’s been super affectionate ever since. And I know he knows that “snack” means he’s a good boy, that “suppertime” is an event to celebrate, and “walk” means he gets to run around and leap up in the air.

And that the f-word means game over.