Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paging Super Nanny

Does Super Nanny make house calls for dogs? If so, this is me making one.

I LOVE my dog. I know that's shocking to all of you because I don't mention him much. But it's true. And I'm trying to raise him to be kind and courteous with good manners.

I'm failing.

My friend Kelly came over for supper the other night and I felt like one of those mothers who wants to kill their child but doesn't know if they should blow a gasket in front of people or ignore the incessant whining in the hopes of not escalating the behavior.

Yes, I realize this is ridiculous dilemma to have about a dog.

I know that most people with a dog could handle this situation. Put the darn thing in his kennel and be done with it. One problem: you haven't met my dog. The very idea of him being more than an arm's-length away from me leaves him in near hysterics. If I was to take him to the other room, put him in his kennel (a beautiful wicker kennel with a blanket and pillow, mind you) and come back to the table, the background music for the meal would be the loudest, most high-pitched, panic-stricken yell you can imagine.

Trust me. You don't want to experience that.

And I know Super Nanny would tell me to stick to my guns and maintain a time-out situation until he calmed and apologized. I tried that once when he was younger. An hour later I decided the risk of being kicked out of the condo association for excessive noise just wasn't worth it.

So back to the meal with my friend. Normally, when I am here alone with the pup and he has no competition for my attention he lays quietly and naps or maybe paws at my hand for me to pet him. But when another human enters, all bets are off. I had him on a short leash next to me at the table but the tugging and pulling and whining to get Kelly's attention was incessant.

So here's where I pulled out my most authoritative voice. (Anyone who knows me is laughing right now.) But I did it. I got in his face and loudly said, "Enough. One more word and you're in your kennel."

I kid you not, he pulled his head back in a startled jerk and the expression on his face was pitiful. He batted his eyes in stunned amazement and looked as though he was about to cry. Kelly and I looked at each other and she said, "Oh my God, did you see his
face?" And we both busted out laughing.

I am such a sucker. I couldn't even keep a straight face with a DOG. The longer I am responsible for Riley the more I realize that, as much as I wanted children, I may not have had what it takes to raise them. You know, essential qualities ... like a backbone. And the ability follow through when they look pitiful.

We moved from the table to the couches and Riley immediately settled down into the dog I know and love and lounged by us while we chatted. Two minutes after Kelly left, that ornery pup was laying in his kennel fast asleep, exhausted from being a pain in the butt.

That's when I realized he wasn't being a pain because of the food. He was being a pain because of the table. I was in a chair and he was on the floor. You know, like a DOG. When we moved to the couches where he could sit next to us and be equal to all the relevant happenings, he was fine.

I created a sassy little monster, people. His name is Riley and he thinks he's the human in charge around here. And he thinks I'm his pet.

The problem is, I think he's right.

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  1. so dang funny. im sorry sara, but it is!

    i have a yorkie who is glued to me. i cant twitch w/out him getting up and expecting something from me. or he'll follow me ev-eerrr-reee-where! i love/hate him. oh yes i do. i said it.

    i have no advice. i suck at this too, friend!

  2. So cute. I love dogs. Have you ever seen the Dog Whisperer? Or have you heard of that woman who wrote "The Loved Dog?" You're an Oprah fan, right? She has been on Oprah.

    I can usually be firm with dogs, but Riley is a whole different level of cute. Don't know if I could do it.

  3. Well at least you did not say he wanted on the table. My two want on the table--like a cat to see what we are eating. It is a royal pain in the butt.
    We don't let them on the table mind you, but they want up there.
    There is no such thing as a spoiled dog, just a loved one.

  4. Hilarious! I almost lost it! I am a terrible sucker of a mom too when it comes to Maxie. That little 7 pound dog has me wrapped around her little paw and she knows it (and so do I).

    In Belgium (and throughout Europe) it is accepted to take dogs into restaurants with you. Maxie is really really good in restaurants as long as she can sit beside me...i.e. NOT on the floor. She just does not understand why she has to stay on the ground when we are in comfy seats. Luckily, that is also accepted and she can sit beside me. She is a perfect angel....but could be a holy terror if she had to stay in the floor.

    Anyway, I think you are a wonderful doggie mommy! You can look at little Riley's face and see that!

    I say keep doing what you are makes you and Riley smile!

  5. Now, that was a good story. We can relate, because of "Gator", our Westie. He's very good around the table, but as soon as we even act like we are going to get up from the table, he's on his guard on hopes he'll get to lick the plate or something similar. Rotten!

    According to a book about Westies, they are "food seeking missles." You think?

  6. I found you because of the picture of your adorable pup. I have 3 malteses and a precious mutt. My "little white pups" are just like that! When I have family get togethers I've been known to push my chair away from the table and put all three of them in my lap while everyone else eats. (someone once told me I needed the Dog Whisperer!) But I'm ok with the way they behave. (I did find a resolution to their barking when people come to the door, I'll tell you if you're interested.)
    Your little Riley is adorable and obviously lives for you. You are a blessed person to have him in your life...thanks for sharing, I'm looking forward to more~

  7. Ok, you all are making me feel so much more sane about my needy dog!!! :) Tam... you said that about your Yorkie coming to you if you twitch? Riley is so attentive to my pain that my niece Anna started saying "ouch" just to get him to come pay attention to her.

    I wish I was kidding.

    @anita: I saw that chick on Oprah. But I think my dog would need boundaries before he could be taught manners like she did for O's dogs. :)

  8. This is so funny, and I SO relate. Mabel gets away with murder. Ok, not murder. But I suspect she's peeing on my rug during the day.

    Have you ever watched that show "It's Me Or The Dog" on Animal Planet? That woman is pretty awsome.

  9. Sara, I was much better at maintaining discipline with our four kids. All Beau has to do is look at me and then we do it his way. Half Shih Tzu and half Lhasa Apso, this adorable 6 yr old pup has brought I lot of joy and laughter into our lives...a little spoiling is deserved.

  10. Darling, darling dog!
    Congrats on your "Dog lover award!

  11. I know what you mean. Our dogs don't do what Riley does, but Turbo, our bigger dog thinks it's appropriate for him to sleep in bed with us. Which, we let him, so we had to get a king size bed. He's 50 lbs. If there is an open pillow he lays on it like a human. Geez

  12. Yeah. I'm thinking he's got you wrapped around his little paw.