I praise my 90 pound black lab Nigel when he does his business outside, every single time. "Such a good boy," I say in a slightly higher voice than I usually speak in. I'm sure he wonders why I am so delighted to see him perform a bodily function that really isn't much of a trick.
He most likely pities me because my life is so dull that his excrement thrills me and sometimes even makes me clap. I only clap enthusiastically when it's midnight and we are wading through feet of snow to find just the right spot to leave the prize. Only he knows where that perfect spot is and bless his tenacity, he will circle around until he finds it. He's no quitter. I, on the other hand, don't care where he leaves the deposit if it's late at night. I just want to get it over with so I can go to bed.
During the day, on the other hand, I am usually very careful to pick up his crap in the little blue bags after I was spoken to by a neighbor who witnessed a moment of weakness on my part when I left that poop exactly where Nigel had put it. Nigel had picked the perfect spot according to him and I just let it be instead of disturbing it, which I know is wrong. The subtleties of not leaving the poop in the perfect spot because I want to put it in a blue baggie to bring home escapes Nigel, but not the neighbor, apparently.
Reading is another activity my dog doesn't understand. When I read, if he isn't outside or napping, he will try every trick he knows to get my attention. Whining, nudging and barking to go out are a few of the methods he uses to get me off the sofa and away from the reading material. I'm sure he thinks if I am staring at a magazine or a book without moving, then I have died and he knows that if I am dead he will never be fed again and he will therefore starve to death. He's convinced that no good will ever come from me staring at length at things that don't move.
To be fair, though, Nigel is scared of many things, including the vacuum cleaner, coffee grinder, leaf blower, lawn mower and just basically anything that makes noise. All of that makes sense, but he also becomes unnerved when I talk on the phone. He barks in front of the cabinet where I keep his treats every time I make or receive a call. And I always get him a treat when I'm on the phone so I can focus on the conversation, not the barking dog. He probably worries that I think the plastic rectangle I'm holding up to my ear is a person I'm having a conversation with so I am definitely losing my mind which will cause me to forget to ever feed him again and he will starve and die.
Another stressor for him is when I leave the house because he has no idea if I will be returning before it's time for his next meal. Or his next treat. Or our next trip outside with the blue baggies. Oh, so many doomsday scenarios most likely come to his canine mind.
But have I ever failed to come back or died unexpectedly? No. Instead of basing his expectations on past experiences, I guess he is just smart enough to consider that since I collect poop and bring it home and also stare at and talk to inanimate objects, I need to be watched and monitored at all times. And I thought he just loved my company!
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