Tipping Point



Professionally, I am known for my attention to detail. But apparently that is not the case in my own home.
Bosco’s made huge, huge strides in the last few weeks. I don’t think these changes were like a light switch got flipped.  But apparently I’ve missed all the little things that led up to these moments. So for Bosco it’s a progression, and for me it’s an epiphany.
We started working with Robyn right around this time last year. I don’t know if either of us could have pictured the big goofy “woofus” that he’s becoming.
Don’t get me wrong – Big Boy enjoys peace and quiet and loves his sleep. But when he’s awake, he wants attention. He’s requesting affection, and enjoying physical contact. Last week, when I was vigorously cuddling him and rubbing his head, I thought it was too much for him, and stopped.  Bosco leaned back into me, tilted his head up and gave me that pittie smile, which said, “more, please.”
I was thrilled a few months ago when he understood that he could interact in his environment, and not just be there while things happened around him. Now he understands that he can put in requests. Last weekend he pestered me until we went for a walk.
Yesterday, he decided that watching me play Candy Crush was not how he wanted to spend his day. So he sat in front of me and whined. I took him outside, but that was not what he had in mind, so he went off to pout.
And speaking of opinions and pouting…. The top of his nose got awfully dry this week, and it looked like the dryness was spreading. For once I did research before I rushed off to fling my wallet at a vet, and discovered that what would be prescribed is also sold in people stores…an affordable cream called Shea butter.
So every night last week, Bosco got his nose buttered. And he was unhappy every time.  Don’t know why.
 I remember a year ago, when I was learning the mechanics of interacting with a big dog – I was standing next to him, looked down and discovered I was standing on his tail.  And he just sat there and didn’t say a thing.  Now, the dog who was too timid to express pain slinks away when he thinks he’s about to get buttered – or get his ears cleaned.
But here’s the absolute best part – early one recent morning, I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Bosco was on his back, asking for a tummy rub. Not on his side, not half rolled, not responding to a rub-in-progress. But spine on the floor, front paws tucked up for maximum rubbing room, full-on tummy rub requesting position.


Rolling back to see why the rubbing stopped

So I was really late to work that day, because damn it, I gave the best tummy rub ever.
Qualifying statement: while Bosco being more expressive is wonderful, and exactly what everyone wants to happen, I know that this is where my role as a responsible dog owner will fail or succeed. I am fully aware that this is the time where his training must be reinforced every single second of the day. This is our tipping point – I can’t let him be goofy and out of control.
I hear Robyn reminding me of that every time something cute, yet not okay, happens, and we do some homework.  Oddly enough, I’m also hearing her say something else:
Bosco needs a treat!


Labor Day

I stumbled across the following essay – a letter to an adoptable dog. Elaine Sichel outlines her qualifications as a dog companion, and hopes the dog will agree.

I showed it to Auntie Laura and said that I hoped one day to have a resume like that. And she gave me a list of jobs I already have. And that got me thinking … today is Labor Day.  I decided to put off doing some things for my day job, and make a list of things I do in my job as Bosco’s person. And that got me thinking about what Bosco does, which he perceives as his job.


Bosco is not in the mood for a walk



Me: Motivation Booster

Bosco is perfectly happy lying on the sofa all day. He has a history of refusing to go for walks.  I make going out fun.


Bosco: Motivation Booster

I am perfectly happy sitting on the sofa all day.  I have a history of losing several hours to Candy Crush. Bosco makes going out fun.



Me: Security Shield

Whether it’s a throng of squealing children or a hundred geese in the park, I will stand between Bosco and the scary stuff.


Bosco: Freak Deterrent

There are lots of … unusual people in the city, and many of them feel a need to share their unusualness with passersby.  But not with Bosco around.  Let’s just say his appearance makes them think twice.  Number of freak encounters before Bosco? At least one a day.  Number since?  ZERO in a year.


Napping on a Sunday



Me: Headrest

So Bosco can sleep with his head upright, and see the world square on when he opens his eyes.


Bosco: Nap Monitor

When I’ve napped enough, Bosco yanks off my blanket.



Me: Ear Swabber

That boy could grow potatoes in there, and I have to keep him clean.


Bosco: Grass Trimmer

I have issues with keeping the lawn mowed. Bosco does his part to keep the grass short.



Me: Remote Control

When he flops on a certain place on the floor, it’s time to turn on the air conditioner.


Bosco: Quality Control

I like to sing loud. Bosco lets me know when it’s bad by gently putting a paw in the middle of my face.


Me: Transportation Captain

Whether it’s to the park, a play date or the doctor, I take Bosco where he needs to go in a Honda Element specially configured so he can sprawl out.


Bosco: Upholstery Protector

Bosco covers the sofa and makes sure that it doesn’t get sun-faded.



Me:  Snack Baker

What started as a simple fundraiser for work turned into an on-going duty. After all these weird toxic food issues, I feel better making Bosco’s snacks myself.


Bosco: Bacon Taster

He would like it to be an on-going duty. It’s possible the bacon could be tainted, and he thinks he should make sure every piece is okay.


Making cutie faces



Bosco:  Carnival Teddy Bear

He’s so cuddly, I can can’t help but hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and love him and call him good boy.  This used to freak him out.  But here’s his little secret:  he’s starting to LIKE IT…


Me: Human Thunder Shirt

This is the one I take most seriously, and I think about every day. Last October Bernadette Peters told me that Bosco wore a thunder shirt at the shelter to help control his anxiety.  I’d never heard of a thunder shirt, and asked her to tell me more about it.

Her response:

“He doesn’t need one now. He’s got YOU.”


That’s a good job. Happy Labor Day.