What’s Socks Got to Do With It?

How did humans get so lucky as to evolve next to dogs? Did our hominin ancestors see wolves on the horizon and know that someday we would exist co-dependently? We might have still been on each other’s menus back then, but did they recognize the possibilities? As wolves crept closer to our campfires to feed off the scraps we threw, did we realize then what a critical role we would play in each other’s lives, for time immemorial?

Owning a dog can actually lower your stress, so they say. I’m not sure I believe that, but we’ll just go with it for argument’s sake.  Ultimately, pets encourage our body to release oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Touching or talking to a dog can actually lower a person’s blood pressure. Unless they throw up in your lap. Which happens. Oh yes, it happens.

Dogs are so loyal and protective even the smallest one will stand up to the guy carrying the big scary boxes to your porch. They encourage a more active lifestyle… hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! It can happen!  Not in my house, because my dogs are consummate couch potatoes like me, but it happens!  Or so I’ve heard anyway.  With the right parents at the helm, dogs can help teach children empathy and responsibility.

Of course, dogs help ease feelings of grief and loneliness. I mean, you just can’t be lonely with a dog. Or alone. With a dog, there’s always someone there, watching you. Have you ever tried to sit down with a plate of food in front of a dog? Or open a chip bag in a building where a dog resides? You find out very quickly how not-alone you really are.

There are countless incredible service dogs. Dogs who can alert their human to an oncoming seizure and then comfort them as they are recovering. Some individuals with autism have dogs who help calm them when the world around them becomes too much. There are dogs trained to retrieve things for those with mobility issues, walk next to their person and help provide stability. Be the eyes for someone with blindness and ears for someone with hearing loss. Some are trained to seek help from another person when necessary. (Quick PSA: when you see a service dog without its person, that person is most likely in trouble, so follow the dog.)

I haven’t even touched on search and rescue dogs who find people buried in avalanches or detection dogs finding firearms and drugs. There are therapy dogs who provide comfort and affection to a range of people in institutionalized settings like hospitals, group homes, and prisons. The list goes on!

What can’t dogs do? Well, okay, they can’t make me dinner after a long day of work, but they can keep me company while I cook. And they do clean up the floor when I make a mess, so that works out well.

As pets, dogs bring us simple joy and lots of laughs. A trainer once told me that everything a dog does is to benefit the dog… down to playing fetch or being affectionate. She claims that dogs only do things to better their own lot in life, so to speak. I don’t believe that. I believe that they want to make their owners happy, and I swear they smile with us.

My 12-year-old Yorkie, Rufus, is my “heart dog.”  He’s had some pretty rough medical issues through the years, but it has not stopped his instigation of our favorite game: ‘Give me those socks!’ which takes place every day. He could stay in bed or lounge around on any one of his many strategically placed pillows and no-one, least of all me, would say word one to him. But no. Even on days where he’s not 100%, he drags himself into the hall to lurk oh-so-obviously when he knows his chance at a rousing game of ‘Give me those socks!’ is on the horizon.

Here’s the gist of the game. Every time I take off my socks and toss them into the laundry pile, he grabs one and leaves. He then prances back, instigating a chase by stuffing the other sock in his mouth along with the first one he has already stolen. Then, I say, “Give me those socks, Rufus!” and he takes off happy as can be. He then trots back into the room to show me the socks, with a smug look on his face, and we do it all over again. “Give me those socks!” I say, and off he goes. It’s never been an out and out chase so much as keep-away – sort of like trying to take a cookie away from a two-year old while said two-year old is sitting in a high chair.

We have played this game ever since he was a puppy. Twelve years of playful sock stealing, and I still don’t know who enjoys the game more. Me or him? I’ve been wondering lately what his intentions really are with this game. Does he play because he loves the reaction? The thrill of the thievery? Or is he stealing my socks because he sees the enjoyment I get from the game? That in his mind, I’M the one who loves the game, and he’s just going along with it to make me happy.

I’ll be honest, as much as I love to see Rufus enjoying himself as a sock thief, he’s not alone. We’re both reaping the happiness reward. Maybe Rufus has the same thought.

Never Lonely

Who’s watching
Tell me who’s watching
Who’s watching me
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me
And I have no privacy 
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me
Tell me is it just a dream
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me
And I have no privacy
I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me
Who’s playing tricks on me? 
 
 
 
*song lyrics: Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell
 
 
 
 
 

On Guard

After sharing a day from the life of Holly aka Evil Incarnate aka The Ne’er-do-well, I thought it was only fair to give equal time to the guardian of the house, Rufus.


Dear Diary,

I was a good boy today! I protected the family, and we are all safe, now. Well, let’s start from the beginning. Mom fed me breakfast, and it was delicious! I couldn’t wait to have lunch. And dinner. And breakfast again.

Mom left home, again. So, it was just all the pets and the girl today. It’s not so bad, except for the cats. They’re the worst. I swear… if Shaylee rolls her eyes at me one more time… And don’t even get me started on Holly! She annoys me to no end. No end, I tell you! No matter how much she may have deserved it, I didn’t kill her today, so I think Mom should give me extra points – and treats, for that.

Other good boy things I did today include letting Petra cuddle with me (even though I don’t like it or her), leaving mom a present in her sleeping spot, and not peeing in the house.

I always leave my favorite chew toy in Mom’s bed under the covers while she’s at work. I make sure that it’s all nice and slobbery and chewed too.  That way, she’ll come home and see that I protected her spot all day and that I was thinking of her.  I’m a good boy. Mom never seems happy to find my chew toy, especially if she gets into her spot before finding it. She makes an odd noise when that happens. Sort of sounds like Petra before she throws up in a shoe. I don’t understand why Mom doesn’t always appreciate all the things I do for her. I know she loves me though, that much is very clear, so that makes me happy. And she feeds me breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. And breakfast again. I wonder when I’ll get a treat. I haven’t had one for a long time, at least an hour.

I also tried to teach Petra the importance of protecting hearth and home. There are monsters all around us.  Outside. Above. Today I saved our girl from a FEROCIOUS lizard that dared to crawl onto our patio! I might not have been able to get at him, but I did give him a stern talking to through the patio door and he was duly frightened and chagrined at his transgression. The girl didn’t seem too impressed, but I did my duty regardless of her disdain. I am a good loyal boy.

But that Petra… I just don’t know what I’m going to do with her. I tried to teach her how to bark at the people in the parking lot across the way. We need to tell them to stay away. Petra just doesn’t take her job seriously. She doesn’t know what it means to be the protector of the family. Not like I do.

Before Mom comes home, I always sniff under the front door to see if she’s close. Today, I got nothing. She must have been very far away. I wonder where she goes every day. Anyway, I took a nap so that I could be at my best before she came home. And I was.

Today was a great day. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Sincerely,

Rufus

 

Petra, the Sort of Demon Slayer

Just so we’re clear, demons and ghosts are two entirely different animals. Oh sure, having a ghost about the house might not be such a bad thing, but demons on the other hand, you probably want to avoid them, if you can. I mean, sure, demons can be a decent sort, I guess… it’s just that ordinarily, they’re a little too heavy on the Hell and brimstone for me. Not to mention, the whole soul-stealing thing.

To avoid said demons, I always take my dog, Petra into the bathroom with me when I’m ready to take a shower. She might be small, but she’s a Hell of an alarm system. (ha!) Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! I’ve seen the movies. I don’t want any demons escaping their netherworld home from under the sink while I’m preoccupied soaping up my hair. And what is it about demons under the bathroom sink, anyway? I don’t see the allure in it myself, but it seems that’s where all the popular demons spend their spare time. Then they come crawling out, in their creepy demon way, when unsuspecting victims are taking a shower.

So, anyway, to ensure a demon-free showering experience, Petra stands guard. Well, really, she lays guard… ensconced in the dirty towels, but the end result is the same. Demons watch out!

Why Petra, you ask? That little bit of a thing can’t protect anyone from demons, you might be thinking.  I suppose you’re right, it’s not as though she could attack the demon and drive it back with pure muscle… but you see, in case you’ve never watched any demon-centric movies, demons hate noise. They hate bright lights and they hate dogs. Demons prefer to work on the sly and loathe attention. As soon as anyone catches sight of them or even if the demon thinks someone is privy to their existence, they disappear or duck behind a door and bide their time for another shot at your soul.

And Petra? She likes to bark. Strike that, she loves to bark. When Petra spies someone she doesn’t know – and sometimes those she does know, she barks. If she hears a noise, she barks. That leaf blowing down the street two blocks down? Yep, worthy of a barkfest. If you want to draw attention to something or someone, just show it to Petra. She’ll let the whole neighborhood and the development next door know that something is amiss.

You might think, oh, seeing a demon would shut her up. You’d be wrong. The more anyone yells at Petra to stop barking, the more she barks. It’s like she can’t help herself. And when she’s afraid? Well, there’s just no stopping her then. She might not go running into battle, but she’ll most definitely sound the alarm. A nonstop, high-pitched, frenzied alarm.

Demon: *hears water running in the shower, thinks NOW is the time, pokes his head out from under the sink*

Petra: Bork?

Demon: Oh shi… well, hi there little doggo, what are you up to? Don’t mind me, I’m just a demon. We’ll just stay quiet, okay pupster?

Petra: BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK

Demon: Okay, fine, if that’s how you want to do this.

Demon: *using his best, most scary demon voice* I SAID BE QUIET DOGGO!

Petra: *quietly eyeing up the demon*

Demon: *smug as only a demon can be smug* Now that’s bette…

Petra:  BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK

Demon: *looking around frantically while desperately shushing Petra in a low, begging whisper* Oh now, come on little doggo, there’s no need for that, shhhh… it’s okay, just shhhh… heyyyy, wait a minute, I might have a treat here…

Demon: *throws Petra a treat*

Petra: *slowly creeps over, grabs the treat, and retreats*

Demon: *smiles a toothy demon smile and edges out further into the bathroom*

Petra: BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK

Demon: *facepalm*

Petra: BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK BORK

Demon: *reaching out slowly to close the cabinet door* Okay, jeez, I’m going… see?? I’m leaving, I’m leaving, good grief.

Petra: Bork.

And there you have it, folks. The ultimate demon alarm.

Breaking News… of a Sort

Labor Day, generally speaking, isn’t usually equated with a day of peace… it’s just not the theme for the holiday. But, still, miracles happen, and one such miracle happened in Maryland today. In fact, it’s a day that will go down in history.

Let it be known, that on Labor Day 2019, after a long-standing feud of 10 odd years, hostilities came to a halt, as peace talks, successful at last, brought about a temporary truce between two bitter foes. Weary from battle, these faithful warriors laid down their arms… umm, teeth… and sheathed their claws to meet, on common ground, for a well-deserved nap.

Will this newfound (dare we even say it!?) friendship last once these lifelong enemies have awoken? Or is this truce truly temporary? No-one in either camp is willing to end their slumber prematurely, so the future is uncertain.

For now, let’s simply revel in the unexpected tranquility and contentment reigning over the realm.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.