I’ve been musing lately about animals.
What is it that causes a domestic animal to choose one of the “pack” as their favored?
Do they choose the primary caretaker?
Do they choose the primary entertainment guru?
What is it that draws them to one householder member over another?
When we had to euthanize our old lab, we already had another dog in the house to lessen our loss. It was a shock when the newest dog broke her back and we also chose to euthanize her. We took our time to find another dog to add to the family.
I had nearly decided our best option was to be dog-free. The relief from the constant dog hair and the freedom to go and do as we pleased without concern for the daily needs of a pet was freedom. I’ve nearly always had a pet around and I’m accustomed to them, but I don’t really attach to pets like most.
They’re simply animals, I figure.
Another household duty.
Not so for Hubby. He wanted a dog. He wanted this dog to be his pet.
An ad in the paper got our attention. Full-breed black labs to give away, no papers.
Hubby called and made arrangements to see the litter. By the time he arrived, there were only two females left. Hubby chose and brought home his new dog.
I was elated to find that the new puppy was house trained! Whew! What a relief!
Hubby worked steadily to establish a bond with Jersey. He would hold her in his lap to cuddle when he reclined. Toys were bought and toys were fashioned and Hubby and Jersey would play tug of war and chase and fetch. They were fun to watch.
I focused on her boundary training. We live on a busy street that is also the highway coming through town. I wanted her to understand her limits, so she and I would walk the property perimeter three times quickly every time we went outdoors for her potty breaks. Jersey would diligently follow me without leash, sniffing as we circled, doing her business in the tree line.
Soon, Hubby determined it was time for Jersey to learn to take neighborhood walks. He fastened the leash to her collar and off they went, to enjoy a nice stroll.
It was a short-lived stroll. Jersey planted her butt at the property line. She would not leave. Hubby was laughing when he returned to the house with the dog who had been too well boundary trained.
I cut back the constant circuits around the yard, and eventually we would simply open the door to let her out and she would signal when she wanted back in. For me, it seemed the hardest work was now done. I could relax.
The next year and a half produced a steady stream of profanity to echo off our walls. I can cuss like a sailor, yes I can.
This new pet, this new dog, his new dog was nicknamed “destructo-bitch”.
The bitch was out of control from the moment we stepped out of the house until we returned, little play-actress she.
I would arrive home for lunch to find a trail of trash, laundry, dishes, electronics – all shredded and chewed. She destroyed shoes, cameras, eye-glasses, lamps, remote controls and her constant favorite: bags of cat food.
This . friggin’ . dog . tested . my . last . nerve.
I saw Jersey as an enemy to my calm and a test of my sanity.
Dogs don’t hold grudges.
My yelling and screaming and arm-waving and ranting did nothing to damper her willingness to befriend me. If I gave her just a few moments of ear-scratching and attention, it would erase any angst that preceded.
We survived it.
Jersey has become an excellent pet.
Her destructive stage passed.
Now she has this funny little new habit.
Nearly every day, when I come in for lunch or arrive home from work for the day, there will be a sock from the dirty laundry pile laying in her favorite space. Nearly every time, it’s my sock (and yes, thank you very much that it’s only a sock).
It puzzles me.
Why, oh why, does she pull out a sock every day?
It took a while to recognize that the sock is never “chewed”. It might be a smidge damp from its arrival via canine teeth and tongue to its destination, but not chewed, not damaged. What’s up with that?
Security. It’s her security blanket. This is Jersey’s method of comfort while we are gone. Her ”pack” instinct does not make her keen to be alone.
Now I smile when I see that sock.
That sock is adoration.
The sock is a signal that all will be well with her world when its owner returns. I lovingly chide her as I pick it up and return it to the laundry pile “were you missing us, Jersey?”
The question now is why my sock? When did Jersey adopt me as her most loved pack member?
What causes this irony?
Hubby’s dog, yes and yet no.
When did that happen?