Andrew adores his family dog. He is crazy about that dog, and that dog is crazy about him. They have a special bond.
Andrew and I will have custody of the dog from tomorrow afternoon until Tuesday night, so Andrew will get plenty of dog affection over the next few days. Andrew’s parents will take the dog over to our apartment on their way to the airport tomorrow afternoon—Andrew’s parents have keys to our apartment—and the dog will be there, waiting for us, when we get home from work tomorrow night.
That dog is just like a person. He has his own personality and character. He has his own routine. He has his own habits. He has his own likes and dislikes. He also has his own rules.
Among other things, he will not tolerate being ignored. He expects—no, he demands—to be included in everything. This means meals, and car rides, and all household activities.
In our apartment, the dog expects to sit between Andrew and me on the sofa, and he expects us to pet him and he expects us to talk to him and he expects to be able to lick us freely. When he feels like taking a nap, he expects to be able to lie upon us and he expects us to sit there and to remain quiet as long as he naps.
He eats dog food once a day. He gets a big bowl of special dog food his vet recommends first thing every morning. After he has gone through his dog food, however, he expects to eat people food for the rest of the day.
If meat is part of the breakfast menu, he gets meat. Bacon, sausages of any kind, ham, Canadian bacon—he gets it all. He is never given any kind of eggs, but he is always given pancakes if pancakes are on the menu. When he is served pancakes, the pancakes are cut into small pieces and milk is poured over the pancakes so that they are extra moist for him. He loves pancakes.
At lunch and dinner, he is served the same kind of meat and potatoes as everyone else, except that his food is cut into tiny pieces so that it takes him a while to eat it. He WILL eat cooked vegetables, but he is not given cooked vegetables because he cannot digest them properly. However, he IS given things like applesauce and noodles and macaroni and pasta, if those things are on the menu, to go with his meat and potatoes.
He loves dessert, and he always gets the same dessert everyone else is served UNLESS the dessert is made of chocolate. At Andrew’s mother’s house, if Andrew’s mother makes a dessert of chocolate, such as chocolate cake or chocolate pudding or chocolate ice cream or chocolate cookies, she will always make something extra for the dog: white cupcakes or vanilla pudding or vanilla ice cream or peanut butter cookies. Peanut butter cookies are the dog’s favorite. When the dog is staying with us at our apartment, we never eat anything chocolate so that the dog does not miss out.
The dog does not suffer from two of the health problems associated with German Shepherds, at least not yet. He has never secreted yellow bile, a sign of digestive problems, as some German Shepherds do, and he has never had signs of the special hip problem common with many animals of his breed. Now that he is seven years old, his hips are checked at the vet every six months so that any hip problem will be caught early.
Every time he arrives at the vet’s office, he passes water on the floor as soon as he walks through the door.
Sometimes Andrew’s mother takes him to the vet, and sometimes Andrew’s father, and sometimes Andrew and I. I helped Andrew take the dog to the vet twice. Andrew told me in advance what would happen as soon as we stepped inside the front door. Andrew was right. The dog passed water the very minute we walked through the main door.
The dog expects to be given a treat when his vet visit is over. If he does not get one, he will help himself. He will jump on his hind legs and take a treat from the bowl on the receptionist’s counter.
Andrew talks to the dog like he’s a person. He talks to the dog all day. Andrew does not talk baby talk to the dog, or dog talk. He talks people talk to the dog.
Andrew always tells the dog what we are going to do for the day. In the morning, for instance, he will tell the dog that we are going to clean the apartment in the morning, have lunch, and go out and play basketball and do food shopping, and return home for dinner. The dog looks at Andrew as if he fully understands what Andrew is saying to him. It’s spooky.
The dog constantly jumps up on Andrew and puts his paws on Andrew’s shoulders and licks him. Andrew pets him nonstop and tells the dog that he loves him until the dog jumps down. This goes on all day.
When the dog rides in the car, he rides in the passenger seat, and the window is always cracked so that the dog can stick his nose out the window. This is true winter and summer, and whether or not there is a human being in the passenger seat. If there is a human being in the passenger seat, the dog simply sits on the passenger’s lap while he sticks his nose out the window.
Long car rides are difficult for the dog because he gets bored. For some reason, he can’t sleep in the car. On trips to the lake, we stop every hour so that he can get out of the car and run for ten minutes. Otherwise, the trip becomes too difficult for him.
The dog gets lots of exercise. He is constantly being taken to the park. Andrew and I take him to the park. Andrew’s mother takes him to the park. Andrew’s father takes him to the park.
At his favorite park, he has a fixed routine. He first runs along a pathway through a wooded area. At the other end, he expects to play fetch ball, except he knows that Andrew’s mother does not play fetch ball with him. His preferred balls are tennis balls. There are other games he likes to play at the park, too, but fetch ball always comes first. If there are kids playing in the park, he will jump right in and play with them.
When he is at home, he goes outside to play in the back yard every ninety minutes. He walks and runs around the back yard for twenty minutes, and when he is done he leaps up the stairs onto the back deck and sits next to the glass door, waiting to be let back into the house. If no one opens the door, after about a minute he will start to bark. He will do one quick bark, and stop and wait. If that is not enough to attract anyone’s attention, he will do a second quick bark and stop and wait. If that is not enough to attract anyone’s attention, he will do a third quick bark, and then almost immediately start barking continuously until he is allowed into the house. This pattern never varies.
When Andrew is at his parents’ house, the dog always expects Andrew to go outside with him whenever he wants to go outside. This is true no matter what the weather and what the time of day. The only exception is if Andrew tells the dog, in advance, that he will be busy doing something and cannot go outside with him for a while. For example, when Andrew and I were over at his parents’ house, watching the NCAA Mens’ Basketball Tournament, Andrew would tell the dog that he could not go outside with him while the games were on. The dog understood this, because he happily went outside by himself during the games, without fuss.
The dog is always up in someone’s face, and he always seems to know who is the best choice, at a given moment, to give him affection and attention. Through instinct or experience, he always picks the person least occupied in doing something important and he expects that person to give him complete attention. His choice is always the best choice.
The dog dislikes the music of Shostakovich. No other music bothers him at all, but Shostakovich makes him very unsettled. The dog can listen to “The Rite Of Spring” and display no effect, but a few minutes into the Shostakovich Seventh or Eighth or Eleventh Symphonies, and the dog will start to become distraught. Andrew and his father believe that the relentless, primitive pounding rhythms of Shostakovich’s music must somehow disturb him. At Andrew’s parents’ house, music of Shostakovich may only be listened to on headphones. It is the house rule.
The dog expects to get his tummy tickled every night between dinnertime and bedtime. He will lie on his back and wait for someone to get down on the floor with him and tickle his tummy. While he is being tickled, he will move his head back and forth in excitement and glee. When he has had enough tickling, he will leap to his feet and start play-biting the person tickling him. He will wag his tail and rear his hind legs and snap at the tickler, and he likes it when the tickler playfully tries to grab his front paws. This is his favorite game, and he can’t get enough of it.
Another thing he likes to do is to stand on Andrew’s back while Andrew lies on the floor, watching television, in his parents’ downstairs family room. The dog will walk over and stand on Andrew’s back and then, trying to get a rise out of Andrew, will start snapping at his ears. After a few minutes of this, the dog will lie down on Andrew and put his wet nose on the back of Andrew’s neck, which always make Andrew get up and play with him.
When Andrew is done playing with the dog, Andrew will stay on the floor and lean against a sofa, and the dog will sit on his lap and snooze while Andrew resumes watching television. That dog views Andrew as his primary pal.
The dog seems to have no problem staying with us in our apartment. I would think that he would have a hard time staying with us. Going from a large house to a small apartment would make him feel confined, I would think, but he always seems happy to stay with us. This is probably because we give him lots of attention and because we also keep toys for him at our apartment at all times. Chewy toys, squeaky toys, dog bones, toy balls—we keep all of those things on hand for him. We feed him well, too, and he likes that, no doubt.
He is the smartest dog I have ever been around. He understands an incredible amount of speech. He knows the names of everyone. He knows the days of the week. He knows everyone’s sleeping hours. He knows everyone’s routine down to the minutest detail. He knows the sound of everyone’s car. I think he knows the alphabet.
Andrew always jokes that he’s going to teach the dog algebra.
Andrew tells the dog, whenever he misbehaves, that he had better be good or else Andrew will take him to see a performance of the musical “Cats”.
“Now, you don’t want that, do you?” he always asks the dog. And the dog barks, as if to say “No”.
He has good taste in musicals.