Bosco’s Blatant Ripoff

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Dear blogger: I am 7 years old.
Some people say dogs don’t know about Santa Claus.
They think Christmas is for silly hats and stripey knit sweaters.
But please tell me the truth; do dogs get to have Santa?

Bosco de Lazzara
Allentown PA

Bosco, those people are wrong. They are skeptical people in a skeptical age, unable to believe anything other than what they see. Their little minds think Christmas is nothing more than an excuse to play dress up with fine fellows such as yourself. In this great universe of ours, these thoughts are limiting, contradictory to the bountiful truth and magic of the season.

Yes, Bosco, dogs have Santa Claus.

Santa exists as certainly as the love and generosity and devotion of those two generous women who saved you at your deepest point of despair, who imagined for you a life of beauty and joy. How dreary the world would be without them! It would be a dreary world with too few good dogs, without the faith and poetry of companions in this existence. Without them, the lives and light of thousands would have been extinguished.

No Santa for dogs! You might as well not believe in saints!

You might look in every window to catch sight of dogs and people, but you will not see saints. The most real thing in the world is what you will not see. Do you see the shelter staff and volunteers on the lawn? Of course not, but they are there. Nobody can conceive or imagine the wonders they have created, unseen and unseeable, in the dog-loving world.

You can tear apart a squeaky toy to find what makes the noise, but there is an armor created by these unseen people, the strongest men and women who have ever lived, and no one can tear that apart. Only their faith and love can push aside the wall of neglect and cruelty, and picture the beauty and glory to come. Oh, Bosco, they created your world, which is real and abiding.

No Santa! Thank God he lives forever in these people. Years from now, Bosco – and ten thousand years from now, they will continue to protect the lives and make glad the hearts of big good dogs.

– with thanks (and apologies) to Frank Church of the New York Sun, 1897

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Bonus/Bogus

It’s the holiday season.  Last year was probably Bosco’s first Christmas, and he had no idea what to make of my rituals.

This year, however…. He’s seen it all before. And he’s formed opinions.  And he’s quite willing to share them.

The main thing I do is put up a fake tree that probably has more lights and ornaments than the other trees on my block – combined.

tree

Last year I half expected Bosco to wipe it out, but with a few exceptions, he didn’t bother it at all. Once was the intentional removal of one ornament, for the sole purpose of seeing my reaction.  Note that this year, the bottom section does not have the same ornament density as the rest of the tree.  That’s because Bosco’s tail is very strong. A good wag cuts through an ornament like a hot knife through butter.

He wanted to participate this year.  He likes the ornaments, and enjoys sniffing the boxes – since they’re all from my family or thrift stores, I imagine they are quite stinky.  I never ever want to know what he’s smelling.  He thought the bead garlands were a lot of fun, and enjoyed trailing behind them as I wound them around the tree – until I didn’t see him, and stepped on him.  That was the end of his decorating dreams.  He promoted himself to supervisor and watched from the other side of the room.

The holidays are running 50/50 for him.  Either something is wonderful, or it’s dreadful. Every event has a little bit of both.

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BONUS:

I got a present!  A blanket of my very own.

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BOGUS:

My person’s blanket is bigger.  And it matches me. It should be mine.

big quilt.

BONUS:

We got another present! It was a big box of cheese and baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaconnnnnnnnnnnnnnn…..    I got to play with the box.

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BOGUS:

I only got to play with the box. No cheese or bacon for me.

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BONUS:

I got another present!  It was sitting on a table and I found it and I played with it all day. It was soft and squishy.  Since I found it, I got to keep it.

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BOGUS:

sweaterIt wasn’t a toy.

poutingI was so traumatized that I took my teddy and went to bed.

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BONUS:

sitThe tree is done! Now I get to pose for pictures and practice my “sit” and get rewarded.

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BOGUS:

hatI should have eaten this hat last year.

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BONUS:

normal poseI got some cheese!  I am very handsome.

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BOGUS:

santa photo

The only reason I’m doing this is that it’s damn good cheese.

And I’m gonna eat the hat.

A Part ……. or Apart?

photo

Trying something new today – a podcast.  Okay, to be honest, I recorded this last night while I was driving, and I don’t want to transcribe it.

Part 1:

Bosco touring Lisa's enormous yard

Bosco touring Lisa’s enormous yard

The book I mentioned is called “I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship.” Ummm…  yes you are.

Part 2.  I lost patience with garage band and trying to split this up into sections.  So somewhere around 3:14, scroll down and look at the next photo:

the view

the view

Part 3:

#^%*!

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.

W.T.F.

At his school's playdate; smiling because someone is telling him he is handsome.

At his school’s playdate; smiling because someone is telling him how handsome he is.

We’ve been doing some major celebrating this week. Bosco’s pooping in the yard.

So maybe that doesn’t scream cake and ice cream to you. But let me add this tidbit – until last week, he was afraid to even be out there. There are sounds coming from outside of the fence, and that makes him jumpy. It’s hard to poop when you’re jumpy.

But he decided this week that it’s quiet enough at 6 am to hunker down and git r done.

Something has changed for him in the last few weeks.  First reactions have always been a huge W.T.F., complete with freezing or attempting to flee. His reaction to new things is different now. He’s not exactly shooting forward to feel the rush – but he is staying put to see what happens next.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought this enormous piece of furniture, and had to bribe friends to help me get it in my house. And somehow I managed to not have to lift anything. Yay. Anyway, one friend brought his toddler daughter with him. She’s adorable, and at the “squawk and grab it” part of her life. Her dad says that she loves dogs, and thought she’d get a kick out of Bosco. And she did. At least twice her size, he must have looked like a huge carnival stuffed animal.

It was real clear real fast that Bosco’s never seen tiny children. Here’s an artist rendition of the event:

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A few days later, we saw a neighbor carrying a child. Bosco seemed surprised and a little sad that there was no squealing and reaching.  The next week, Auntie Laura stopped by with her sons.  They’re small, but they are very experienced dog people. Even though he was nervous, Bosco sat down to get his petting. One boy gave a couple perfunctory pats, then climbed in the car and asked to go to Target. The other boy stood in front of Bosco, and they stared into each others faces. They were telling each other, “yeah, we can just stand here and be good with each other.”

He’s also expanding his trust/affection circle. Last month I had to go on a business trip, and he stayed at Robyn and Bill’s hotel. I got voicemails about how playful he was while he was there. Laura was on the same trip, and we checked Bosco out of the hotel before taking her home. In the past, he would have been on the floor in the back of the car. This time, he was trying to squeeze himself between the front seats, nudging and poking at her for some Bosco loving.

He’s also getting better about loud and unfamiliar places. I didn’t realize last Saturday was opening day of fishing season, and that the park would be packed. He was thrilled to be there.  But I did discover that he will hip check me into a pile of horse flop to avoid stepping in it himself.

Bosco napping after a big walk in a crowded park.

Bosco napping after a big walk in a crowded park.

Yesterday in the park, a woman was teaching her daughter to fly a kite. It was a flashy and colorful kite, and looked kind of like a huge bird. I expected Bosco to shy away and try to leave. But he stood there watching for a few minutes. When the kite went high, his ears went up. He turned his head to follow it as it swooped around. When it crashed, his ears flattened. And then they’d slowly come up again, as the kite rose back into the sky.

W.T.F. is still in his vocabulary. But it’s a different acronym now.  It’s ….Well…….(long pause for analysis) …….That’s fine.