Most of what I learned about dog ownership comes down to the simple fact that dogs run in packs, each dog has a hierarchy in the pack, and to be a good owner is to be the head of the pack – or the Alpha Dog. A main part of that means that when you make a decision your dog doesn’t like, you stick to it. While it is quite clear that I am the alpha dog in my house, on rare occasions, I let my beta make the call.
Yesterday (Sunday), I had a busy day planned. I needed to type up some stuff, so I was heading to Starbucks to do that, followed by a little stop off at the gym, followed by the last big push to clean up my yard for the spring. All of that simply meant the pup was going to be in the kennel for five or six hours. No biggie, when I am at work he’s in there ten hours plus a day. Auggie, for all his 40lbs of fuzzy cuteness, is quite smart … for a dog that is. He knows when I intend to send him out back to do his buisness, he knows when I am getting a doggie cookie for him, and he knows (joy of joy) when it’s time to go for a ride somewhere. Okay, maybe he doesn’t know that, he just assumes anytime I walk by the garage its time to go for a ride — which is a far few number of times when we actually do go for a ride, I mean, I have to pass the garage to go to bed, to change, to go to the bathroom, to find out what Auggie brought in from the back lawn.
So picture if you will, Sunday morning. I am packed up ready to go, bag over shoulder, laptop in hand. I walk over to the Kennel, and stand next to it. Auggie, stands next to the garage door. I yell, “come on”. His ears droop, his eyes go wide, and his head hangs. He knows I am going somewhere and he isn’t. Never has there been such a sad sad doggie as there was in that poor poor moment.
Alpha dog should have stomped his foot and told him to come again. Alpha dog should have gave him a swat for disobeying Alpha dog. But it was quite literally one of those “how can you say no” moments.
Instead, I said “alright” and walked to where the harness and leash hung.
That’s when Auggie recreated the “Snoopy Happy Dance”. He lept in the air, jumped everywhere, and was a bundle of excitement. He even wagged his tail when I went to buckle him into his harness, something he never enjoys.
So my plans for the day changed, somewhat. I still went to Starbucks, but he sat down outside with me (eventually wrapping his leash around my table, dragging it a little ways, getting scared by the sound of the dragging table, then dragging it much faster so coffee split everywhere). Instead of the gym, we went to the park, where we took a short walk around the nearly thawed lake and counted the trees that hadn’t budded yet. We stopped off at Auggie’s version of Disneyland … Petsmart. Where literally everyone in a blue shirt knows his name, and usually has a cookie. Then once the little fuzzball was worn out, he finally went into his kennel for a nap … and daddy still had to finish the lawn.
This weekend, the weather finally turned into something that made going out worth it – and while my little routine on the weekend has had me out more and more, this is probably a day when I got to spend most of it with my buddy.
Even if I broke the first rule of being the Alpha Dog.