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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Hidden Bone

Okay, so we know that our dogs (and cats) are proxy for our children. That’s been established, here and elsewhere. We love them like our children, spoil them even worse than our children, and wish for them a long life of good, happy experiences. Heck, we even knit them little coats in our favorite colors and cover them up with old baby blankets when sleeping. I could go on—should I mention the towel we place near the door to dry her fur when she comes in from the slushy weather? Okay, enough already!

But who told them they could begin to assert their own personalities? Who said they could develop their own hang ups, independent of what we believe is outside their scope of experience? Who allowed them this luxury of separating from their parents? God, you say? How do you know? Who really has the hang ups anyway?

Well, there is one thing I know for sure. I know that Singer has an urgent need to dig and hide her bones. Not the ordinary rawhides, but the expensive, tasty $5.99 bones that are flavored especially to entice dogs to chew and eat them. They are shaped like a giant toothbrush, to appease my sense of guilt for not brushing her teeth enough, but that’s another hang up that belongs to me, not her.

So anyway, Singer took her delicious, precious bone and trotted all around the house with it, looking for a special place to hide it. We laugh: is this a hoarding hang up? This is her second bone; the first one she ate right away, presumably finding it delicious, but who knows. Singer has now been given this second bone, days later, and she is trying to get into my closet to hide it, but I shut her down with that idea right away. She then trots over to Jeff’s study, which is barricaded by a baby gate to keep all animals out and looks longingly around. But she quickly understands she’s not going to get in there. Then, we have to go to work, and I kiss her quickly on the head and tell her to “go to your couch” and leave. I have no idea what she does after that door closes.

Zoom ahead to several weeks later. I started wondering about that bone, which we haven’t seen around anywhere. Singer’s “spoons” from feeding the cat, the ones she fishes out of the sink after we leave in the morning, lick clean and then leave around the house, we know about those. They occupy our minds for awhile, and Jeff and I idly chat about how to get her to stop leaving the spoons around the house. Then we decide that it’s kind of cute and decide not to do anything about it. Yes, we know it’s really because we can’t decide how to stop her, she is so sneaky about it and what harm does it do, anyway? Again, parallels to parenting come up.

Just to tease her one night, I ask her to go get her bone. She is curled up by my feet on the couch. She looks at me, then at her pile of toys and bones, and back at me. I tell her several times to go get her bone, and I get a feeling she knows exactly which bone I’m talking about. To make sure, I tell her, “You know, the one that looks like a toothbrush, the one I gave you several weeks ago?” She looks at me but doesn’t move. What is she thinking?

Several minutes pass. I return to reading my book. Singer puts her head on her paws again. Then she gets up and puts her nose in the corner of the couch and sniffs and starts digging. It’s a leather couch, so I ask her to stop. She doesn’t. Finally, I command her to stop and she jumps down. I see a little something in the corner: you guessed it, it’s her bone. She buried it that day and now wanted it back.

Singer took the bone once again from my hands and disappeared with it. Who knows where she buried it this time?

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