Ownership

ImageWe interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a very special announcement…..

Emotionally, Bosco became mine as I drove on I-78, somewhere around the Hellertown exit. Legally, he became mine three weeks later when I handed some cash to BARC shelter and swore I would always do what’s right for him.

I’ve always loved my dogs with all my soul. I’ve also always had this Peanuts cartoon stuck in my head – the one where Lucy says (of Snoopy) to Charlie Brown, “He only likes you because you feeeeeeeed him.” God, Lucy’s a jackass.  But it made me wonder what the dog/person relationship was like from the dog’s side. Is it just food, shelter and security?? I didn’t know.

Until last weekend…..

I became Bosco’s.

Something clicked and took away any remaining doubts he had.  And for once, I actually noticed when it happened. We were on the sofa. His head was on my leg, and I was rubbing him. He twisted around, tilted his head up and we locked eyes.

Yep. Dogs love.

Ever since, he’s never been more than a few feet away. If I go upstairs, he’s coming with. Taking the garbage out? Maybe I should make that bag a little lighter for you and eat something in it. How come I can’t go to work too?

My favorite thing in the whole world is our weekend morning routine. I drink coffee and screw around on my iPad, and he sits with his head in my lap. Having been awake for an interminable 30 minutes, he falls asleep almost immediately, and has woofy, ear flicky dreams, and he eats in his sleep.

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Hanging on a Sunday

The bond really sunk in last Monday. We were out for our morning walk, which is at the same time kids walk to school. There were two girls half a block behind us.

Remember how I said Bosco is a freak deterrent?  Well… I noticed a guy, and my spidey sense told me he wanted to play some “hey baby” game with those girls.  Of course I wasn’t going to let that happen. So I stood 10 feet away from him until they went past, ruining his game.

And Bosco? He picked up on it – and moved so he was standing between me and the freak.  This is the dog who hides behind me when he sees a goose or a group of children. But a freak – a potential threat – he took the lead. And the freak went away.

Bosco knows now, that aside from nose buttering, he has nothing to worry about when he’s in the house. And he’s been a cuddly clown, prancing around and making sure I notice him. He HATES my new workspace, and does everything he can to pull my focus away, mostly by asking for (and receiving) affection.

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“hi”

His last resort is to play “sofa shark,” where he pretends to give up and go sit on the sofa. Then he suddenly pops his head up, and the cutie faces start all over again. I have to explain that work means money, and that means snacks, and he sighs and flops down in resignation.

Image But the best part, when I know that I’ve done right for this dog, and that he is happy, is when I catch his eye. There’s no caution, no worry. No fear.

It may not be a cute YouTube video, but to me, it says “I love you” loud and clear.

Tipping Point

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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.
 
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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.
 
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 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.

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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!

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