O P I N I O N
To be clear, this isn’t a column about how – after a challenging first few months – I bonded with our dog and we became best friends. This isn’t that.
Our dog, Pip, is an idiot. He’s been that way since he was a tiny puppy. Now nearly ten months old, he’s still an idiot. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes. He doesn’t even know they are mistakes. There is no differentiation between doing dumb things and doing smart things. He just does things. Sometimes those things are running as fast as he can into a closed patio window. Other times those things are chewing on a dead chipmunk until he barfs. Whatever he selects, however, appears to be the dumbest of choices.
He could choose, for example, to simply show us that he found a dead chipmunk. Instead, he chooses to eat it, damn the resulting upchucking that comes later. Then, once he’s realized that eating a dead chipmunk makes him sick, he could choose – based on past experience – to not eat that new dead chipmunk he found. But again, that’s asking too much. He will likely eat ALL the dead chipmunks regardless of the outcome.
In writing this, it occurred to me that the reader may have two pertinent questions about Pip, of which I will answer here.
First, yes, we have tried to train him. We’ve read the books, watched the videos. We’ve offered treats and scolds. Nothing gets through. I’ve had some minor success with belly rubs, but I believe these are just distractions rather than actual training. To be fair, belly rubs do settle his stomach after eating chipmunks.
The second question that needs to be addressed is why we have so many dead chipmunks in our yard. To put it simply, I theorize that our cat, Lavi, knows Pip is an idiot and is trying to poison him. Pip on his own could never actually catch a chipmunk. Pip on his own can barely find his food bowl. Lavi, however, is a master rodent trapper. The chipmunks are placed right where Pip goes outside to go to the bathroom. The cause and effect is clear. The cat is an evil genius plotting to rid itself of any competition.
And yet, that dog keeps on trucking. And he’s such a tiny, shaggy thing, all sad eyes and floppy whiskers. He’s a Bichon Frise and we had to go to New Jersey in a snowstorm to get him. Just… don’t ask.
I’ve never in principle been opposed to owning a dog. In fact, when I was my daughter’s age, I did indeed have a Beagle named Patches. That dog was a scaredy pants, and also tended to puke a lot. But he was more, I don’t know, elegant?
As I write this, Pip is sitting at my feet, staring at me. I know what he wants. He wants me to pick him up and hold him on my lap. He wants me to do this because I’m currently alone in the house. When my wife and daughter are home, I’m third in line for this honor.
And when I finish this up, I will, I suppose give him a good scratching, assuming that is, that he hasn’t yet peed on my sock.
I’ll give him a belly rub and I’ll chop up some left-over chicken to feed him and I’ll cross my fingers that the cat doesn’t have some new nefarious plan in the works for him.
I’ll do all this because the other day, Pip and Little Bean were playing a game. The game was simple – my daughter would run as fast and hard as she could from one end of the yard to the other. Pip would chase her yipping and barking. When they got to the end, they would both fall over in the grass, rolling and yelling and laughing. This went on for a long, long time.
Long enough that, when they were done, and both were covered in dirt and grass stains, and my daughter’s cheeks were flush red, she walked over, sat down next to me and put her head on my shoulder. My daughter on one side. The idiot dog on the other. They both sighed and I put my arms around both of them.
The dog and I are not best friends. He’s an idiot. But Little Bean loves him. He loves her. So, we abide.