Here at the suburban abode, the dogs rebel against authority on a daily basis. They can poach a pot roast off of the kitchen counter in a nano second, and they have the sense to drag their booty to a shadowy corner so that they are not apprehended until the pan is clean. Last week they chomped through a half bag of conversation hearts- you know- Valentine candy- before they realized it was not meat. I would like to go closed circuit on them to assign primary guilt: they are clearly co-conspirators. When I wave an empty potato chip bag, or bread wrapper in their snouts, they both go belly down, eyes averted and slither to a corner. The guiltometer cannot tell who incites and who follows- but they are both BAD DOGS. And carb addicts. Who wears the alpha crown of demonic leadership is the mystery.
In the absence of the other alpha dog,(Steve) they have relaxed their already-challenged code of conduct. I try to keep them on top of the coverlet and off of the sheets, but Milly prefers to have her own pillow. Steve is to blame for the bed sharing, because he has always wanted to have a dog to stroke when he has anxiety-produced insomnia. (every night) His feelings were hurt when our old dog, Chamois, left the bed once it was "lights out." This is the typical dog behavior: they do not wish to tumble out of bed. However, Mabel was invited onto the bed as a pup, and she has not left. Sometimes she goes upstairs and "unmakes" it, almost demanding that we come up to sleep. She is not the best bedmate: she snores, farts and sleeps from east to west, stopping blood flow to our legs. Sucker that I am, I am still touched when Steve reaches out in an unconscious state to pet Mabel. I am an enabler for the dogs at bedtime. Now every night is a two dog night.
In the last few days, they discovered that their electric fence is malfunctioning; that joyous discovery has led to a ballet of snow antics in the "off limits" part of the yard. Mabel hangs behind, watching Milly rub her back in the snow and dig for buried tennis balls. She cannot bear to be repressed, and so she defies the invisible fence with a leap. Then she sits, too conditioned (frightened?) to return to the side of the house. I have to stand in the sliding door wall, entreating them to return by shaking the treat jar. That's right- I am breaking a cardinal rule- rewarding bad behavior. I am losing my power. As if I had any. I taught Milly to ring a bell to go out by rewarding her- now she rings her bells for treats. Dog training is not my strong suit. My dogs train me.
Our furniture in the sunroom is covered in sunbrella fabric- a concession to the hard wear that the sun and dogs inflict upon the cushions. We try to keep them from stalking backyard squirrels in cushioned comfort by placing aluminum foil strips on the seats. Dogs hate the sound of foil. They do not even have fillings to react to the metal, but they respect the silver and generally remain on the floor. The couches stay fur free- but they look like aliens have shed there. Even this discipline is breaking down. I came home the other night, and one foil strip was shredded, chewed and spit out all over the room. Had there been gravy upon it, I would understand this- but it was simply an act of defiance. Actually, had there been gravy, it would have been swallowed. Despite warnings about chocolate poisoning dogs, last week the co-conspiritors finished off a bag of heart shaped Reese's peanut butter pieces, including foil- with no evidence of even a stomach ache. Maybe they were checking the sofa protection strips for chocolate. I can relate.
We are getting new couches in the family room, and Steve migrated South with the instructions that I was not to let the dogs get up on the old furniture, since they will then wreck the new stuff. I am not an enforcer. Mabel prefers to use an arm rest to prop up her Lab head, and Milly wishes to be at eye level with her people. Actually, though she is 40 pounds, she likes to be in my lap. I think they look cute and relaxed on the furniture. We are empty nesters, and so they are the "kids". I am indulgent. Besides, how can they know the difference between the bed (good dog) and the couch (bad dog) ? I blame Steve for this dog confusion.
Look at that paw on Milly. I have to let sleeping dogs lie.
I have two new avenues of attack. First, I bought a "scat mat", which I will be circulating from one piece of upholstery to the next. The dogs will receive a "correction" when they jump onto the furniture. I promise I will test it to be sure they are not psychologically or physically harmed. I think I will set it for Mabel's weight (80) because Milly is stubborn, and she will require a bigger buzz.
The second line of attack doubles as a concession. I have bought them their own couch.
Frontgate had it on sale (for a ridiculous price, I admit) It is green micro velvet, has a bolster back, is extra large, filled with orthopedic foam, and is complemented by a bone shaped pillow that can be personalized. Steve would not only frown, he would growl at this capitulation. I have chosen DAHL DOGS for the personalization on the pillow. That way, if Steve kills a dog for flopping on the new sofas, there will be no sentimental bone shaped reminder of the late lamented canine. Perhaps the next dog I get will not like life on people furniture. I am not holding my breath, though.