Last night on the show “Supernatural” I was thrilled when they did a spell that allowed Dean, I think it was, ( I am a fan of the show but my memory can suck at times and I get their names mixed up. Apparently. ) to talk to a dog. It was a beautiful German Shepherd with a bit of an attitude. The dog witnessed two crimes and helped them to solve them. He also had some great lines. As a result of the spell, Dean picked up some dog qualities and was able to hear all animals talk, making for some funny exchanges with a bird who had pooped on Dean’s beloved car.
It made me wonder, what my dog would say if she could talk to me. She is an eight year old Chocolate Lab/German Shepherd mix. I love and adore her and she seems to feel the same way about me. She came into my life when she was two months old. My husband and I went to the local SPCA Shelter and picked her out. She was adorable. She weighed a tiny twenty pounds then, was all brown and her ears were huge and floppy. Her paws were huge also. We knew she would be large and we were happy about that.
A few days later, she had been spayed and I was allowed to take her home. I was incredibly excited. I am a woman who would rather have pets than jewelry. I mean, this was one of the best days EVER. It was a day off from work and I had an appointment with my doctor first. I was so excited that I was going to pick up the puppy afterwards, that the doctor at my allergy appointment that morning thought my excitement was about him. That struck me as incredibly funny. He actually said, “Yes, well, this is all very nice.” Whatever, Dude.
She was not my first dog, but she was my first puppy. We have had many adventures together since then.
We got through house training together. It started with me ever so confidently telling my husband, “It will take me two weeks.” I had never actually house trained a dog before. It soon became clear that I was totally lost. So three weeks later, after many, many apologies to my husband, and after the purchase of a rug cleaner, I went to the local Petsmart store and humbly, desperately begged the pet trainer there for help.
She saved me, my rug, and possibly my marriage. Okay, not my rug. She told me the dog was giving me signals that she had to go out. I told her if she was they were very subtle because I was not seeing them. Turns out she was giving me signals and yes, they were very subtle. Damn it.
The dog was glancing, glancing I tell you, at the front door, and if I did not see it when she did it, she just went into the dining room and peed on the floor. How much easier would it have been if she could have just said, “Jamie, I have to pee. I have to pee RIGHT NOW. Would you like me to do that outside or inside? ” It wasn’t that easy of course.
I didn’t know how long she had been in the kennel but her area there had been small. Our home must have seemed huge to her in contrast. If I didn’t catch her signal, she went from the living room, into the dining room and found a spot. The trainer told me to keep the dog right next to me so I could watch her at all times. I put a long piece of wood between the living room and dining room to accomplish this. Of course, we took her on many long walks, always first thing in the morning and last thing at night and plenty of short ones in between. Limiting her space worked. She started following me everywhere and she still often does. I started watching her very closely. As soon as I saw the glance, BOOM, got the leash, and got her outside, and PRAISED the hell out of her. I gave her dog treats as a reward. Suddenly she understood. Oh, you want me to pee OUTSIDE.
It was a communication problem. As soon as she understood, she went outside. It was that simple. I should have asked for help sooner.
As she grew to her full size of sixty three pounds, but remained very much in her puppy years with all of her puppy enthusiasm, I had several dog related injuries, or DRI’s. I do have to confess that I am a klutz, so I am at least partly to blame. One of the most embarrassing, which of course I am going to tell you about, was at the park. There were witnesses. My husband had gone out of town for work and I decided to take my puppy to the park for exercise early in the day. I had her on her extended leash (first rookie mistake) and then I threw a tennis ball for her to catch ( and that’s the second). She ran after it with puppy glee.
She ran fast. Then a man on a bicycle rode by, she decided to chase him, and suddenly she shifted into fifth gear. She was running at light speed, at speeds faster that I had ever imagined possible for a puppy. I was thin then. I say that to explain that at that point, I became airborne. For a brief, horrendous, terrifying moment, I was a kite. I shit you not. I shouted at the top of my lungs, “Loki!” As you may have guessed, that is my dog’s name.
She stopped dead in her tracks, turned and looked, and I, the flag, dropped to the ground with a thud. It hurt. It hurt more than I can possibly tell you. However, I was still very focused on my dog. I was worried about her. That’s who I am.
I called her again and she came running back to me. I managed to slowly sit up and she smelled me and looked at me. She appeared to be wondering why I was sitting on the ground.
She stayed right by me while I ran my hand over my very painful face and then looked at it to see if was covered in blood. Fortunately it was dry. I had put my cell phone and my inhaler for asthma in one of my pockets and yep, that was the side I landed on. That hurt. I stood up. I was okay. I looked around to see who had seen me fall. Oh, there were a few people staring. Yes, I was embarrassed. Oh, well. At least if I had been knocked unconscious, maybe they would have helped. That’s looking on the bright side. The really important thing was that my dog and I were okay. Also, I would never, ever do that again.
I walked the dog around the park for a little while, on a short leash. Then we drove home. I tend to bruise easily, (Yes, I know I am a mess.) so I decided to ice my face and my leg where they hurt. I really didn’t want to tell this story at work the next day because I had a huge black and blue mark on my face. I also really didn’t want a huge black and blue mark on my face.
When I hit the ground at the park, it occurred to me, that no one knew where I was that morning. Me who usually was so cautious, and with my husband out of town, here I was lying on the ground. I was doing stupid shit at the park and getting hurt. That is just the thought that ran through my mind. That and “Ouch. That really hurts.”
Another DRI occurred right in my own backyard. No, you say, surely that could not happen to you. Oh, cut it out, you smart ass. I had been having trouble sleeping so I had taken a Benadryl in order to go to sleep at bedtime. Everything was good until Loki decided she had to pee around five the next morning. I thought I was awake so I got up and walked downstairs. I put her on her leash, I put on my flip flops and I walked out back with her.
As I stepped down off of the patio, I felt and heard the bone in my foot break. I had forgotten there was a bit of a drop down off the patio and apparently I had not quite been awake until that moment. THAT woke me up. Well, the dog still had to pee, so I walked on that very painful foot and let her pee, then walked back inside and I locked the door, and I let her off her leash.
I tried to convince myself that maybe I had sprained my ankle. It did hurt quite a lot, however. I got an ice pack out of the fridge and then slid my way up the stairs on my bottom. Once at the top of the stairs, I limped to the bed and then laid down and put the ice pack on my foot. I figured I would ice it and then go to the walk in clinic when it opened in a little while.
I was wrong about the sprained ankle. When my husband drove me to the walk in clinic, they took an x ray, and they said the bone was broken. I’ll tell you the stories of klutzy me on the crutches sometime. Maybe.
On the rare occasions when I do what I loosely refer to as “cooking”, my dog, Loki stands in the dining room, several feet away from where I am in the kitchen, and has a look of concern in her eyes that makes me laugh. The first time she saw me chopping vegetables with a large knife, seriously, the dog looked like she thought I had gone crazy. I laughed and laughed, which in hind sight was probably not that reassuring to her. Then I put the knife down, walked over to her and gave her a big hug. I told her I was just cutting vegetables and it was okay. Who knows if that made any sense to her. I then went back to the kitchen and continued.
Sometimes I do wish my dog could talk. I think we would have amazing, funny conversations. She could say, “Remember that one time you flew?” I could say, “Remember the one time you tried to eat a frog? It was so gross!”
I do think she understands me, though. I mean, considering that she didn’t even speak English when she first came to live with us, we have done quite well. I hadn’t thought about that, never having a puppy before. I would talk and talk to her and she would just look at me, or totally ignore me. Then one day I was talking away and she seemed to understood. She looked at my face and just continued to watch me. She reacted. I was shocked and so, so happy.
Now she is eight years old and she totally gets me. I think I get her too. I try to do the best I can to make her happy, to help her to feel safe, loved, to have fun, and to give her a good life. I wish all dogs had this. Adopting her from the shelter was one of the best things we have ever done. I wish we had a large house so I could adopt more dogs.
Never mind the house training, or the extra time it takes to walk her, or whatever. The love she gives us is amazing and unconditional. I love all kinds of animals and I have had many different kinds of pets. I also really, really love my dog.