Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Look over where?" asks my dog

I have a German Shepherd. His name is Buddha Thai. Don't ask, it's a very long story.

Okay, I'll tell you the second part of it. He was named after my ferret that I had for five years while I was in college. I named him Buddha Thai. He was a great pet, like a kitten that never grew up. People were amazed by what a cool ferret was, especially ferret owners. He never bit me, he was funny, had a great laugh, a great sense of humor and when we had a party, he would pull all the empty beer bottles under the couch. As well as someone's watch if they put it on the floor next to them. Or their keys. Or anything shiny.

I can remember a few times when a friend came over the next day after a gathering asking me if I saw something they lost the night before. My first question? Was it shiny? If they said yes, I went under the couch and found it, and typically things belonging to other people and myself, and empty beer bottles.

The point here is, he was a cool pet. So when we got this Shepherd, his markings reminded me of my ferret. Everyone has raved about what a good looking dog Buddha is. I remember when I told my friend at work (now moved on to a different company), that I had a dog named Buddha, he frowned. I've followed the teachings of The Buddha for decades. He was a Vietnamese Buddhist, a very good one. He said, "you named your dog after the Buddha?" I said yes, and asked what the matter was. He said, "is it spelled differently" I said no, I hadn't thought of that, spelling it, "Booda" or something.

Then I said, actually, I named him more after my ferret, who was named Buddha Thai too. Then he frowned deeper. "You named your ferret Buddha?" I said yes, but he was named after something else called "Buddha Thai". He frowned deeper.

He said, "Would you name your dog Jesus?" I said, well no. Oh. I get it. Then I said that I thought Buddhist's would feel differently and that every time I called my dog's name, I thought of The Buddha. And I said, people do name their son's, "Jesus". He thought on that for like a full minute while I was sweating out his answer. Finally he said, "Okay, I guess that's okay, I mean, I don't think you meant any disrespect, and you meant well, so I guess I'm good with that."

Anyway, that's my dog. He's a very cool dog. Everyone thinks so anyway. So sometimes my dog walks up to me. I'm watching TV. He wants to go out. I've been trying to train him for a decade to bark, and then you get to go out. But somewhere along the line I messed up.

Originally I was doing quite well. He wanted out, he would bark, but way too much. So I tried to train him down, to modulate his bark to out. It worked. But then he wouldn't bark at all thinking that was what I wanted. It wasn't. So he would have accidents at times when he hadn't been taken out. This was back when he was younger.

And then one day I figured out what was going on.

I had trained him not to bark. He didn't get the whole modulation concept at all. If he had to go out, and I was upstairs in my home office, he would go downstairs and stand by the back door and probably, wonder why I wasn't taking him out. He would wait until he couldn't hold it any longer and then, the gift that keeps on giving.

As soon as I would walk downstairs later, I could smell what I was about to walk into.

It took about a year but I finally got him back to barking when he wanted out. But in that whole process somewhere, I had broken what was a perfectly good function. So that now, he goes to the back door and stands there looking out through my double paned full length glass door. When he gets tired of that he will start moaning, which is really annoying if you are trying to watch a good movie.

Maybe, he will come to me when he gets annoyed (or desperate) enough and stand in front of me and look at me, then he will look past me out the back door, expecting me to get it. "Take me out." I just tell him, looking isn't going to get you outside, you have to bark. Eventually he gets it and woofs, then I try to get him to be more forceful, then he barks loudly and bounces around. I'm sure he's thinking, "what a jerk." But he's probably just thinks, "Gotta go gotta go gotta go...." I think this is a contest I'm never going to win again, I had my one chance and blew it.

But that is the other thing that always has bugged me. When I point to something, he never gets it. Many may have noticed this with their own dogs and cartoonists have made fun of it too. If you point to something, your dog doesn't look at what you are pointing at, he looks at your hand, "Why's his hand sticking out from his body like that?" he is probably thinking. When we play ball outside, sometimes he gets distracted and when he goes back to finding the ball he has trouble locating it. Which I thought was weird, he's a do, smell it out dude. So I point, and from twenty feet away he looks at my hand. Probably thinking, "Is it in his hand?"


Just now I was at the top of the stairs. He likes to lay there and stare out the tall thin window next to the front door and look all the way up the long drive way to the street. He reigns there, sits there, sometimes sleeps there and is always in control. Or thinks he is, I'm sure.

So I'm talking to him just now and asking him where his toy went. I look down the stairs and there is his toy, by the front door. So I point, "there's your toy" I say. He looks at me. Then he looks at my hand.

Frustrated, I look at the toy. Then I notice, immediately he looks at the toy, too. He's seeing my eyes pointing to what I'm looking at and he follows THAT. Now we are both looking at the toy. He's not getting up, I'm not going to go get it, so I realize I'm wasting my time. I walk into my office here at home and sit down and realize why he never follows my finger when I point at something. And I start to write, this. Then I get to this point. Right here. This... period "."

Now what do I write?

Suddenly, I'm ahead of my writing and I don't know why I'm writing... or what.

It's no wonder my dog sometimes has a look on his face of dismay. Or, sympathy? Or, wonder that I can breathe and walk at the same time.

And I have to wonder, has he been considering this since puppyhood?

Is this dismay or sympathy for me, or himself? I think we probably already know the answer to that one.

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