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Fred's Views

All Dogs Go To Heaven

We have two dogs. They are litter-mates, a cross between Bichon-Friese and poodle. One is short and walks like a robot, perhaps carrying more of the Bichon genes while the other is tall and fluid in motion, carrying, perhaps, more poodle.

They are eight years old. They have many adorable habits that we may get to later, but they also have a few highly irritating ones. First of all, they bark at almost anything. Or, perhaps more correctly, at nothing. When one of my sons walks in the room, they bark as if they have never seen him before. For no apparent reason, they will suddenly start barking and race from one window to another. Of course, we usually don't see anything, but sometimes we see one of the neighbors' dogs - which we assume is what they are barking at. They seem to be very territorial, although their idea of what's our territory doesn't always jive with what it says on the deed.

They also like to lick. They will lick themselves, of course, but somehow they feel that we must get in on the action too. They lick our faces, they lick our necks, they lick our hands and so on. And once they start, they don't want to stop.

Naturally, they consider themselves to be people. But they are still dogs. In the dog world, one animal is usually dominate. In our dogs' world, this has become twisted. At certain times, one dog will appear to be dominate, but at other times, the other becomes dominate. Then there is their interaction with us. Most of the time, they will, more or less, do what they're told, apparently recognizing us as dominate. At other times, when I am lying or sitting down, my dog will jump up on me and assert herself quite forcefully. She will press her face against me about as forcefully as possible and will do whatever she can to maintain this position.

The two of them have very different personalities. The small one is far more daring, more independent, and less obedient. If she is allowed out without a leash, she tends to take off down the road or around the back. She won't respond to your calls until she is good and ready. My dog is timid, extremely dependent on me and usually obedient. If she is on her own, she will usually come when called. If she is running, she will stop and return when called. She is often allowed to walk about without a leash. However, if they are both out together without leashes, she is almost as incorrigible as her sister. When you call, she will acknowledge the call with a head movement, or a slight pause, but then she will carry on following her sister. Sometimes, she will lead the race, although this usually happens when they run to the back of the yard, which is okay with us anyway. She is almost always the first to return.

She is completely devoted to me. Unfortunately, unlike the hero dogs of the silver screen, she seems to be completely oblivious to my needs or situation. I'm afraid if I really needed help, she would just sit there and lick my face.

If I am at my computer, she will lay down on the back of the couch that rests up against my desk or in a dog basket that sits in a corner of my desk. If I lie down, she will leave wherever she is and lie down beside me, or, sometimes, on top of me. If I leave the room, she will wait for my return, if I'm fast enough, or else she will come after me. I can't use the downstairs bathroom without her. If I shut the door, she will scratch at it. If I leave it slightly open, she will scratch at it until she opens it enough to get in. Then she will sit there until I'm ready to leave. She seldom bothers with the upstairs bathroom and won't stay if I'm taking a shower.

The small one is always the first to bed where she will stay, usually on my side, until I start to move the covers. Then she'll jump off the bed and crawl underneath where she will stay for most of the night. My dog, however, will almost always lie down beside me and stay there usually all night. If it's quite warm, she may get up and move to the end of the bed, but virtually nothing else will induce her to move. Somewhere around 4 or 5 a.m., the small one will again join us, positioning herself between my wife and I on top of the covers. As a result, she often pulls the covers partly off me. If I move over too close to her, I'll be rewarded with a face washing. If I move too far in the other direction, the big one will reward me with a face washing. Somehow, they don't feel that my wife is worthy of this attention. (Actually, they're probably smart enough to know she won't put up with it.)

They hate to be left behind. They love going for a drive. If there is an open door, they'll jump in. We have a mini van with seating for seven. If the rear hatch is open, they will jump in there. The little one is small enough to crawl under the seats but mine can't move anywhere. You'd think she'd realize this and not jump in in the first place. Unfortunately, they are extremely excitable. If you don't open a door fast enough, they will dance around on their back feet and start to scratch at the door.

Unfortunately, they have no sense of time. It doesn't matter if you leave them alone for 15 seconds or 15 minutes, to them, it's been way too long. They welcome you back with admonishing barks that seem to say "How dare you leave me - even for a second!". If they catch sight of you, they will start making a fuss. Sometimes, they never stop making a fuss from the time you leave to the time you return. Yet, they always want to go.

My dog has got into the habit of making it very plain to me that she wants something. If her water dish is empty, she will push it across the floor. If this doesn't work, she moves on to step two: She starts barking. Just a short, single bark, but we get the message and obediently come to her aid. Unfortunately, she also uses barking for other purposes. If there is some chicken or some other meat still on the table after dinner, she will bark in an effort to get us to give her some. We don't feed them "people food" very often and, when we do, it is just a taste. Still, if she can smell it and wants it, she does what she can to get it. She also has a very loud, very sharp series of barks she will use when she really REALLY wants your attention. Often, it means she or her sister need to use the outdoor facilities. (Very often it is her sister, who never barks for any of these reasons, but will push an empty dish around.) Sometimes I suspect she uses this emergency bark as a means to get outside when she has no real reason to go. She will also use this type of bark when she wants me to pick her up or otherwise pay her attention. In fact, she used it just a few minutes ago and I had to pick her up. Can you imagine trying to type in this article with a dog in your arms? I did manage to type in two or three paragraphs. Eventually, she decided to leave and is now laying down on the couch.

Our dogs have very definite tastes. Whenever cheese is being grated, they are right there waiting for their taste. They also need a taste of pepperoni when we are preparing a pizza. My dog loves anything baked with bananas: banana bread or banana muffins. They both will often eat popcorn and one of them, at least, likes peanuts. But they also have their dislikes. They don't like raisins or any other fruit (except as noted above). Sometimes they will eat around it, and sometimes they will just refuse the whole thing. They do like to clean up a plate on the rare occasions when they get the chance.

Our dogs may not be terribly intelligent, and they may get too excited and noisy, but they have very definite and very different personalities. Sometimes they can be real pains in the neck, but most of the time they just fill our lives with joy and love.

Originally published in 2001.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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