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The Kwerky Guide to...Dog Ownership!

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Wildly Exaggerated: The Kwerky Guide to...Dog Ownership!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Kwerky Guide to...Dog Ownership!

I've been working on an "About Me" page for 4 weeks now, but making no progress whatsoever. Had I been a little more dedicated to that project, you would already know that I have a cat, and that I used to have a dog...until she passed away 2 years ago. To give you some idea of how nauseatingly much I loved my dog: her name was Sunshine.
You are my Sunshiiiiiine, My only Sunshiiiiiiine...
I make a point of telling you how much I loved my dog because you will probably doubt my love for her when I tell you that throughout her life, I consistently and continuously made the heartless, soulless, horrific, abusive choice always to keep her on a leash when she wasn't in her own yard.

Oh wait - did I say "heartless, soulless, horrific, abusive..."? I meant to say "responsible, safe, potentially life-saving, entirely-BECAUSE-I-loved-her...".

Let me walk you through my thought process on this: "Hm. Sunshine is very sweet, and pretty smart, but she does not understand how cars work, or that there are evil people in the world who might want to hurt her, or that some other dogs are not friendly and well-intentioned. As I do understand these things, and don't want her to fall victim to any of them, and live in an urban area where all are plentiful, I need to find some way to tether her to myself so that I can be in charge of any car-, person-, or other dog-related decision-making. BUT HOW?!?!?"
Me 'n Sunshine at the beach, 2005. I'm the one holding the LEASH.
Sunshine in the snow, 2008. Sorry if the LEASH ruins the picture.
Obviously, some dogs don't need leashes, depending on their level of obedience and/or where they live -  if you live on a farm in the country, that's one thing. But here in the land of highways and shopping malls, there are leash laws. For a reason. Even so, my neighborhood has recently seen a marked increase in people who buy wallet-sized dogs and categorically refuse to restrain them in any way, shape or form.


They are forever darting out of open gates, racing across busy roads, and evacuating their digestive tracts all over the place. This is not how we own dogs, people. It just isn't. And my patience with this reached its ultimate end last night, when I found myself charged with an unexpected houseguest.
Who you callin' Scruffy?
Scruffy here was wandering around along a busy street when I went to get my pizza last night. When he narrowly missed being flattened by the car in front of me, he was invited to join me on the pizza run.
Who DOESN'T want to go on a pizza run?
Fortunately, Scruffy is very well-looked after, has a tag with a phone number on it, and is so well-behaved it's absurd, so I'm sure he will be home safely as soon as his family calls me back. In the meantime, I am back in the dog-owning game! I couldn't bear to part with Sunshine's LEASH after she died, so I've been using that to walk him. And I find it ironic that even though I am technically not a dog owner at all, I'm still the most responsible dog owner in this neighborhood. But now I have better ammo against the idiots. Take last night's pre-bedtime potty run, for example:

A dog comes running into the dog walk, seemingly unaccompanied, and races at Scruffy and I. A few seconds later, a drunk, half-naked frat boy wanders out after him, half-heartedly apologizing and saying, "Stop. Peanut*. No. Come back. Seriously, come back. Peanut, come back." To the surprise of absolutely no one whatsoever, this was ineffective. It seems Peanut needs to review his lessons for the slurred "Seriously, come back" command. He was supposed to think, "Hark! My Master has summoned me back to him, and is apologizing to this unfamiliar human for reasons I don't yet understand! I'd best return to his side and await further instruction!" Instead, he thought, "I'M A DOG! THIS IS ANOTHER DOG! I SMELL PEE! LET'S BARK!" But he and Scruffy were getting along fine, so I didn't create any drama that would upset them. When Frat Boy finally realized his drunk ass was gonna have to come over and GET the dog, he walked up and said, "It's OK - he's really friendly." I put on my most vacant expression (ACTRESS POWER!), looked him in the eye and said, "He seems like it! I just found this dog on the road, so I don't know if he's friendly or not. Actually - you're a dog owner and I'm not, so maybe you can help me? His fur is so white that I can't tell - IS he frothing at the mouth? I noticed he didn't have a rabies tag..." Exeunt Frat Boy, pursued by the thought that his irresponsible behavior might have consequences.
*Dog's name has been changed, as it's not his fault he's with Stupid.

Of course this also illustrates my other point, which is that obedience training has come a long way since Sunshine was a puppy. We only taught her (OK fine: tried to teach her) the usual boring stuff like "sit", "stay", "come", and "heel"*. But based on what I've seen lately, today's dogs are learning PhD-level obedience, featuring commands such as:

"Where are you going? Don't go over there. I said stop. Come on!"
"Leave that dog alone. You don't know that dog! Why are you doing this?"
"Get out of my face; I'm on the phone."

If only "CHILL" had been a command while I still had Sunshine. Things would've been so much easier.
*Note: she never truly mastered any of these, but it wasn't much of a problem since you can make a dog do whatever you long as it's on a LEASH.

But I can't say I've ever seen any of these commands work effectively. The dogs just seem really confused. For that matter, so do the people. Their dogs literally never do what they're supposed to do, when they're supposed to do it, where they're supposed to do it. And these people are at their wits' end! How can they guarantee their pets' safety and security if they can't keep them from darting out into traffic, or frolicking with potentially rabid playmates? If you are struggling with these issues, then this post was for you. I have the answer you've been looking for:
$2.14 on Seriously. I will buy the damn thing FOR you.
If you get one of these handy contraptions, all of your problems will be solved! Peanut CAN'T dart into traffic without your permission! You can maneuver him out of the path of rabid strays! And you can funnel your beer, break up with your girlfriend on the phone, or puke drunkenly into the bushes without worrying that you might turn around to find that your pet/accessory has vanished! And perhaps most importantly: you can avoid unsightly welts. Because once Scruffy's family has fetched him, I'm going to start carrying the LEASH around with me all the time. And if I catch you pulling this unleashed-dog nonsense again, I might just whip you with it.

Apologies for grouchiness and/or disjointed writing. Unfamiliar dog = very little sleep, no matter how well-behaved he is.

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