By Daniel Dunaief
I’m the dog that lives in a house with these four people who never leave. I think I may have entered the dog Twilight Zone.
First, there’s this guy who loves to pick me up. It’s crazy, because I’m about 90 pounds, but he says he’s getting exercise. I don’t mind too much, but it does feel weird being up as high as the cats get when they jump to get away from me.
Then, there’s this smaller girl who is his sister. She speaks to me once a day in a high squeaky voice and pats my head. I wag my tail to encourage her, but she has too many other things to do, much of which involve the phone in her hand.
Then there’s “Mom,” who is a self-described cat person. She doesn’t like the way I smell and I’m always in her way. Still, she gives me food once in a while and she tells everyone else to leave me alone and let me go to sleep. The girl and boy stay up way after mom and dad and they sometimes want to play when I would prefer to dream about this old dog who lives next door.
Finally, there’s the one they call “Dad.” He takes me on most of my walks. Sometimes, he puts these white things in his ears and talks to people who aren’t there. He doesn’t always pay close attention to me when he’s got those things in his head, so I get more time to sniff the high traffic areas where other dogs leave their scents.
My daily routine has changed considerably. For starters, walks are both better and worse. They are better because I can go further and I see more people. I am what you might call a “people dog.” But here’s where things get weird. As soon as people get almost close enough to pat my head, either Dad takes me across the street or the other people walk away from me. I’ve tried everything. I lay down and put my head between my paws. That’s a classic, nonthreatening pose. People sometimes slow down when they see that one and they make happy noises, but they rarely stop and they never pat my head.
I also stop and wag my tail with my ears up. Again, it’s Dog Tricks 101, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Sometimes they smile at me, although, more often than not, they seem to be holding their breath when Dad and I walk by. Maybe Dad has been eating too many onions again and he has bad people breath.
Nobody walks in the door and announces they are home anymore. They’re here almost all the time. They used to be happy when I barked at people who walked past the house or who came to the door. Now, they scream about how I have “perfect timing” and how they’re on a “work call” and they need me to “keep quiet.”
I am just doing what generations of dogs have done since the beginning of that whole wolf-dog transformation. I’m protecting the house. How am I supposed to know that it’s “just a stroller” or that I’m going to “make that little kid fall off his bike?”
I’m definitely in the dog Twilight Zone these days, waiting for people to pet me again and waiting for the four people who never leave to start appreciating all the little things I do again, like protecting the house.