I think I need help being a better puppy parent. We have a 9-month-old puppy in the family, Rex, a male Beabull (1/2 Beagle & 1/2 English Bulldog). He really doesn’t ask all that much of me. However, lately he’s let me know many times that I’m falling short when it comes to giving him the attention, love, holding, etc., that he wants. Rex lets me know I’m not attending to him properly in multiple ways. There’s the ever-so-subtle, very sharp, puppy bark. The barks may be few, such as when something happens to capture his attention, or the barks can be many – unending until I give in, stop whatever I’m doing, and let this almost 40-pound dog pretend he’s a lap dog. Then there’s the lengthy whine, often high-pitched, piercing, and one which makes you wonder if your neighbors are now certain you have begun the nightly beating of your dog (kidding, of course). Who would have thought so much drama could be communicated by a whine. If these methods don’t work, Rex gets really creative and finds new and better ways to be annoying, destructive, or just amazingly cute, all of which are done to capture your attention.
I’ve finally accepted that in my relationship with Rex, he’s the ‘giver,’ and I’m the ‘taker.’ Oh sure, I make sure he’s fed, bathed, walked, etc. But he’s the one always offering unending affection and unconditional acceptance. My moody self can be flighty as the wind – loving one minute and an iceberg the next. Now don’t get me wrong, neither of us in this relationship is without his faults. So, lets look at Rex’s shortcomings. He has that Beagle stubbornness, which can really try your patience. When he picks up a scent he likes, his ears turn off, his eyes focus only on whatever has captured his interest, and I become non-existent and irrelevant. What about dogs being pack animals, what about my being the ‘alpha dog’? All of that goes out the window when Rex smells something interesting. Apparently, I’m just the ‘means to an end’ for Rex.
Rex has that cute Beagle face, you know, the big brown eyes, floppy rounded ears, and the ever-sniffing nose. Everywhere we go, people respond to him and seem to immediately adore him. Women always smile, often stopping whatever they are doing to pet him. I’ve seen women walking, even romantically strolling, with the one they love, pause and react to Rex’s presence. I’ve seen women stop their conversation, release the hand they are holding, to speak to me and say, “What a cute dog. Can I pet him?” I wish I had half of my dog’s magnetism – animal or whatever its origin. I often see men doing the same, commenting on how cute my dog is, saying it in their most masculine tone of voice. I often don’t get it – Rex is just a puppy. I grew up in a household with pets (cats & dog), and when I was a pre-teen, we had various creatures in (guinea pigs) or outside (a rabbit) the house. I know the attraction of household pets. However, what is it that happens when you walk a puppy down the street causing others to go out of their way to get some ‘puppy time’? I just took Rex out for his last walk of the night. I planned to get him, do the deed, and get back in – you know, a clandestine manuever. Wouldn’t you know it, we were mobbed by dogs and people in the elevator. When we got outside, other dog owners, not content to just enjoy the companionship with their own dogs, began with the questions, “What a cute dog – What is he, a boy or a girl, What’s his name, Isn’t that darling,” etc., ad nauseam. I guess you’d have to have an extraordinarily ugly or viciously mean dog to be able to take a walk and be left alone. Don’t get me wrong, many times I get a real kick out of the attention, but, at other times, I just wanna be left alone. Do I sound jealous of all the instant love and affection Rex gets? You bet your dog biscuit I am. Anyway, Rex is worth his weight in gold. And if you have a dog, or even a cat, I’d bet you’d say the same about your pal.