(In Part One, my daughter gets a new puppy, which I try to ignore. The dog however forces me to interact with him.)
The more I was around this dog, the more I liked the dog and the dog sensed this. He thus responded in positive ways which continued to win me over. Dogs have this strong, basic nature to bond with humans. And humans have a strong desire to bond with anything that wishes to bond with them. I had read about this dog-bonding thing and I had witnessed it in other people, but I never understood it. I mean it’s just a dog, right? – wrong.
Even though I was his fourth favorite person in the household, (remember, I’m the heavy) Midnight had a desire to bond with me, and me being a human, could not resist this. I noticed that the dog studied my routines and behavior. He was making an effort to understand me, and then modify his behavior in order to please me. In response, I tried to figure out what made the dog happy and please him back.
This is not unlike the process couples go through when they enter a serious relationship with a potential spouse. They learn all they can about the other person and then modify their behavior to please that person. This is an integral part of the human mating/bonding process.
The major difference is that dogs never stop this bonding process. They watch you and try to faithfully please you their entire lives. Couples, on the other hand, typically transition from trying to please each other, to just tolerating their partner at some point in the relationship. What would be a good term for that moment? What would it be? Oh yeah, that’s right, it already has a name! It’s called marriage.
So this “man’s best friend” thing is more than just a cliché. Same thing with the term “faithful friend”. And when you pair an intelligent dog (Schnauzers rated around the 11th smartest breed) with an intelligent human, something special happens. Over many years, Midnight and I developed a tremendously strong bond by spending time together and sharing many of the following activities (bd5).
I shared many meals and snacks with Midnight over the years, but not voluntarily. Schnauzers do not beg, that’s beneath them. They expect you to share your food with them based on your great relationship and get offended if you don’t. They assume its “our meal” and thus you are required to provide them with something.
Here’s the deal Jack, we’re a team. I’m protecting your food from any wild animal that may burst through the door and take it. So, throw me a piece of that delicious roast beef, will ya?
|Where are my chips?|
And they will aggressively guard that food as I learned when I stuck my hand in a bag of chips that Midnight and my wife were “sharing”. My quick reaction resulted in me grabbing no chips, but retaining all five fingers. Midnight also loved popcorn. One night he tried to push my wife back into the kitchen so she could tend to the popper instead of watching television. (This event made in into “Dog Gone Funny” in the Marmaduke Sunday comic strip).
We shared affection. I would be seated and Midnight would purposely bump his head into my knee.
Hey, you’re not doing anything. Make yourself useful and scratch my head. C’mon, do you think it’s going to scratch itself?
So, I would scratch his head and he greatly enjoyed this . Often he would nudge his head into my other hand, meaning he wanted me to scratch with both hands.
But Midnight had a strange way of reciprocating. One day I was lying on the floor after wrestling with him. He then started enthusiastically licking my entire shaved head. I was scared to move, but the scene generated raucous laughter from my wife and daughters. This “head-washing” ritual became standard practice anytime I was on the floor. I think because Midnight enjoyed me scratching his head, he thought he could return the favor by licking my bald head. I can’t say I really enjoyed it, but I did like the delight it brought to the rest of the family. Especially when he stuck his tongue in my ear and I would squeal like a little girl.
And we shared space. Again, the dog expects you concede to his wishes.
You look really comfy in that big ‘ol easy chair. I think I’ll just jump right up on your lap and join you.
He liked sleeping on my lap, but sometimes he would get way too comfortable and refuse to move (and snap) if I tried to get up for any reason. There were a few times when my wife had to come help me remove the dog in order for my chair to remain dry.
Occasionally he slept in our room at night. He would enthusiastically jump right into the middle of the bed and claim his territory.
Hey, I’m trying to get comfortable here. I need some more room. So if you could move over to the edge so I could have the entire middle to stretch out in, that would be great.
We mistakenly thought that we could keep him out of the room by closing the door. But Midnight would not be denied, he would incessantly scratch at the door until we had to open it.
Just wanted to let you know somebody shut door by mistake and I can’t get in. So I’m just going to stay right here and scratch at the door until you realize this and come open it.
And naturally he liked going for walks.
We shared being a family (bd6). Midnight became part of our family and wanted to participate in all activities. He would whimper when we packed for vacation because he could not go along. He liked to play the role of family “protector”. He barked to warn us about the presence of strangers and other animals. He would get agitated if I raised my voice to my daughters (they were teenagers, so higher volumes are often necessary). One time when my wife and I were having a shouting match from across the room, Midnight strategically positioned himself directly in the middle of us and began barkingloudly and aggressively.
Look I don’t know what all this yelling is about, but you will not use this tone in my house. So calm it down and start acting like mature adults.
And that ended the argument promptly!
The dog and I played a lot. Midnight’s favorite game was playing “soccer” in our large backyard (bd7). (My dad would have been pleased that my dog had room to run). I would kick the ball and Midnight (bd8) would wildly sprint after it. He loved to play this game in the winter. Jumping into the mounds of snow, even in frigid temperatures. Often, he would grab the ball in his mouth and expect me to chase him to get it back. So I would chase him around the yard, looking like a fool, because it made him happy and his happiness was important to me (bd9).
Over many years, through all this sharing, through all this time spent together, an incredibly strong bond formed between Midnight and I. My disdain for this dog over time had turned into love. (bd10)
A Favorite Story
And this dog also thought a lot of me. Midnight would always run to the back door, jump wildly, and bark when he wanted go outside to play soccer. But one day it was pouring down rain. He went to the door, saw the rain, and realized we couldn’t go out and play right now. He then walked over to me and looked up. He went back to the door, stared at the rain, and then looked back at me.
I found this amusing and said out loud, “What do you want me to do? Stop the rain?”
And then I realized, Ohhhhhh -- that’s exactly what he expected me to do. (bd11). He was accustomed to me helping him out when he had a problem. Because of our bond, he expected me to accommodate him. When my children were small, they thought their father could do some mighty things, but they never thought I was so magnificent that I could stop the rain. But my dog did! And that made me feel very special. (bd12)
Next: Part Three – One Last Look