By Bill Singer (AKA Geezer Bill)
Every geezer needs a pet. And I’m not just saying that because my portfolio has a nice helping of PetSmart stock.* No, it’s because our dog, Barcles, loves us unequivocally, for only the price of a can of wet dog food. This is unlike our children who love us for the $250,000 apiece it cost to raise them.
In return for that can of dog food, Barcles provides not only love, but spends much of his waking time training us to do his bidding. He began with barking training. We had to learn to distinguish the “It’s time to get up out of bed and feed me.” bark from the “It’s time to get out the chewy toy and throw it a few times, then retrieve it for me.” bark from the “Open the door, gotta go!” bark.
We were slow learners, but we’ve begun to get the hang of it. If my wife opens the sliding glass door to let Barcles out into the back yard and it’s eating time, he simply stands his ground, stares at us, and gives us the “No, you idiot, that was the feed me” bark.
He then becomes a barking GPS. “Make a U turn at the door,” he barks. My wife closes the door. Bark: “Walk 15 feet.” Bark. “Turn left at the kitchen.” Bark: “Turn right at the refrigerator.” Bark. Bark. “You have reached your destination.”
As we are becoming such excellent feeders, he is now teaching us food specializations. There is a bark and whimper for “Please feed me by hand so I don’t have to dip my head into a silly dog bowl.” There is a bark and jump for “Skip the food, let’s have a treat.” And there is a low growl for “The food in my bowl doesn’t smell right. Change it.”
Through experimentation and lots of boiling, we have been taught that soft carrots are at the top of the treat food chain, followed by soft cauliflower. Broccoli that is not soft enough will be swiftly sniffed and left sitting on the floor after which Barcles will give us “the look” and briskly walk away.
When he had to take medication we used this to our advantage by mixing the medicine in with some soft carrots we had hand crushed. The allure of carrots made the medicine go down. Or is that what he wanted us to do?
But if we try to feed him when it’s “gotta go” time, we will be punished with the “clean up after me” routine. Barcles will quietly sit on his pillow while we get out the proper cleaner and paper towels and get to work. Lift poop, flush it, soak up the wet, spray, and dry. Barcles will then inspect to make sure we have sufficiently dried the tile so he can use it again next time we fail to get the “gotta go” message.
His training of us has extended to our bedroom. If we are cuddling, he walks on top of my wife’s body until we make a space for him between us. I guess he figures that since he’s been neutered, there’s no reason for anyone else in the house to be having sex.
We are the slowest learners when it comes to walking training. He has taught us to walk around the back yard right to left as his favorite pee bushes are on the right. But if we stand idly by waiting for poo time, he turns his head and give us the “Don’t you idiots remember where the poo area is?” bark. We then smartly move our tails to the other side of the house.
When we walk out on the street, Barcles happily lets us lead so we can appear completely in charge for the neighbors. But when we pass by other dogs, I can swear Barcles gives them a wink.
*This opening is an homage to Dave Barry. Homage is the French word for “stealing.”