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There is no question that being together ALL the time during this shutdown is revealing a few things about those that live in your house.
In some cases, secrets one may have had from another in the home are going to be revealed. I’ve seen a few stories say it could be a divorce-a-palooza after this is over because those extracurricular texts and phone calls that used to go unnoticed between people having affairs on the side are going to be much tougher to disguise. I would guess when you’re always in the same room with your family, you can only say “this is work related” so many times before somebody catches on.
In our house, the controversy being revealed involves our dog Maggie. For some reason, all our dogs have always afforded me alpha dog status and tend to listen to me as much out of fear of punishment as love and respect. Perhaps it’s just the tone of my voice that suggests to a dog “I don’t believe I want to mess with you,” but all our dogs have been that way.
This annoys my wife. We had two dogs for 16 years before we got Maggie, and my wife spoiled those dogs as badly as any canine could be. Not surprisingly, when she was in the house, those dogs sat with her, worshipped her and followed her everywhere she went. But if there was a clap of thunder or a sound that scared them, they were off her lap in a split second, trotting down the hall to find me and jump in my lap.
I guess they instinctively thought that in a fight, the big guy might offer more protection.
This controversy also extended to our daughter in her early years. My wife and daughter have an extremely close relationship and spend incredible amounts of time together. I used to call them sorority sisters the way they do so many things together, but when it came to discipline, my daughter was always a little more wary of me.
One time when she was little, we were out shopping, and those two went looking at things on one side of the store and I went on the other. Upon completion of my search, I returned to the aisle where they were and I could clearly hear a child crying and acting up, while also hearing my wife trying to deal with it. But the second I walked around the corner, the crying instantly stopped and a smiling child told me “hi Daddy.”
I then heard my wife say “I’m going to throw up” and “I’ve wiped this child’s butt and changed her diapers from the time she was born, yet she straightens up for YOU.” She could not believe our child ended her tantrum the second I showed up.
As any Dad would, I thought it was kind of cool, but kept that to myself.
Now Maggie is doing this. She probably listens to me more because I have a harsher male voice. I’m also home with her all the time and she’s learned very early in life that if she does as I ask, she gets snacks and treats. If she tests me (which she’s done a few times), she learns I’m not Mom and ends up in her kennel.
She also hears the phrase “baddog” when not listening, which she has grown to hate the sound of. Fortunately, she has realized the only thing I really ask her to do is come when I call her, and she now listens to me all the time. I heap a lot of praise on her (which she likes) and life has become simpler.
Until the shutdown.
Maggie now realizes she has a choice 24/7. If she doesn’t get what she wants from one, she just trots down the hall to find the other. Since I’m the one more prone to say “no”, she spends the majority of her time with my wife in the den, laying on the sofa and putting her head on my wife’s lap. The two of them are happy, and you’d think Maggie would want to maintain that atmosphere by listening to what my wife asks.
You’d be wrong. Because my wife covers her in her blanket, gives her snacks and generally cuddles her like a small child, Maggie believes she can get away with murder around my wife. Every other dog that we’ve owned has come to that same conclusion as well, which is why my wife’s nickname is “The Great Enabler.”
This further annoys my wife. She believes because she is spending so much more time with Maggie, she too should have alpha dog status. Instead, when I hear Maggie barking and acting up with my wife while I’m back in my office, I will walk to the den as I hear my wife trying to discipline her. As soon as Maggie hears me coming, she will immediately stop barking, move to a spot on the sofa where she can sit and stare at me coming into the room, and display an angelic look as if she’s been the perfect little pooch.
Kind of like my daughter decades ago in that store, saying “Hi, Daddy.”
“That’s so unfair,” my wife proclaims. “I’ve been with her more than you have lately. She should listen to me more than you.”
Maggie should, but doesn't. She also has a routine where she comes back to my office, gets up in my face and gives me a certain look that means “you need to put on your shoes and let me loose in the backyard.” The door to the basement is only a few feet from where my wife is sitting, yet Maggie comes to the other side of the house to get me. It’s disrespectful, my wife suggests.
To deal with this, my wife took Maggie out every time she sounded the alarm Sunday. Maggie usually listens when you tell her it’s time to come back in the house, but when there are people out on the bike path, she will ignore you because she is possibly the nosiest dog in North America. I’ve learned if you use a certain tone and say “can you hear me?” she knows this is the 2-minute warning to head to the back door if she wants to avoid getting yelled at.
My wife doesn’t know that secret, and apparently Maggie ignored her multiple times Sunday. I know this because I experienced a dog running upstairs trying to get away from my wife while hearing a somewhat angry female voice saying “why won’t you listen to me?” and “we’re going to have boot camp around here and start obedience training all over again.”
“I warned you she holds grudges,” I tell the young pup now sitting in my lap. “If I were you, I’d get in there and start licking her face.”
The two then reached a truce. Maggie headed back to the den, laid on my wife’s lap, and they together watched a Hallmark Christmas movie from 2014. I think the punishment was a little harsh for the infraction, but Maggie did the crime, so she had to do the time.
This morning I warned her again. “You need to listen,” I told her, “or next time you’ll be watching a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon.”
Hopefully the message was received.
No dog wants that.