“A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
If the above quote is true, I’m not sure what that says about our family. Miles, who can best be described as an Appalachian porch dog with attitude, goes about the neighborhood like a celebrity with a posse. We being the posse.
He struts more than walks, his great plume of tail held high, his ears on alert. If anyone says, “hello,” he assumes it’s a greeting meant for him alone and tugs whoever happens to be on leash over for a more thorough interchange. As it is a friendly neighborhood, he generally gets a pet. Frequently, he gets a treat. We have a few neighbors who actually stop, lean out their car windows and hand over a nibble of something or another.
Is it any wonder he solicits car rides from the postman and anyone else who looks like she is going somewhere interesting? Or that he sits at the garden gate during times of high walker traffic to say, “hey?”
Such out-of-the-house exuberance is well and good, but, lately, he’s become a bit of a terror in the house. He’s always left his bones and toys wherever he likes, a habit our daughters claim is proof we like him best. But, now, he’s starting to complain about the service.
If someone doesn’t open a door that he wants to go through quickly enough, he does a quick ear flap, the canine equivalent of, “Come on!” For several days after our last trip, which he was not a part of as it was church camp, he gave me a full body shake every time I left the house, the canine equivalent of, “COME ON!”
Last night, my mother sat in the kitchen rocking chair while I was preparing dinner and Miles sidled up to his bowls, which were conveniently adjacent. He looked up at her with sad brown eyes, all the while lapping water with an astonishing amount of noise. His food bowl was empty and he wanted to make sure someone would correct this sad state of affairs.
It’s true. Our dog has become a bossy boot.
My husband, a behavioral ecologist who is generally not the one being ear flapped, thinks this is a charming development. What remarkable inter-species communication we have, says he, the husband, not the dog.
Remarkable, indeed. We’re all opening doors a little more quickly. We never leave without a reassuring word of our return. The grammy of the house is filling kibble bowls on demand and I’m topping them off with savory bits of people food. We step on the same kibble with bare feet most mornings and rarely complain.
That’s what our family is, well trained.