What I Learned About Men from My Dog

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

My puppy  is teaching  me about  men.  In particular, he’s answering some questions I’ve had since I was a little wee tiny girl. Like why is it men never seem the least bit worried about finding a bathroom?

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

Grendel, named for the monster in “Beowulf” (I can’t help it—I was an English major), can be quite the little watch-puppy with a ferocious bark from such a tiny critter and the balls to back it up if I’m threatened. His favorite thing to do is tear the eyes out of his toys. I’d always had girl dogs, often strays, so he’s a new experience for me with all his boy-ness.

Actually,  he  belongs  to  the  girls,  but  while  they’re gone, he’s  being  Mommy’s  dog, which  means  I get to take him for a  walk. Or in this case, a drag, as in him dragging me.

Last year, our neighbor kept him regularly trimmed up and spiffy, and he was always a good dog for the grooming sessions, but our girls had a fight and that’s that.

With the summer heat on us, we finally had him professionally groomed  because he was a hot little fur-ball who’d pant just walking through the house. Now, under all the fur, we find out he’s still tiny. The first place (a major  commercial  pet  supply  store)  made  us  wait  for  6 weeks for an appointment—longer  than I have to wait for  a hair cut  after  I finally  decide  to get an appointment—and then they botched the job. Wanted to charge me full price and a special handling fee and did nothing but give him a bath. Not even a bath as good as the girls give him and he had lots of matted hair and some dirt spots when he came home. Basically, they wet him down and blew him dry over about 3 hours’ time I had to wait and then  announced  to me  that they couldn’t trim his too-long toenails or clip him or anything because he was so misbehaved. But the groomer suggested, after trying to charge full-price  for…nothing…that  we put him through their obedience school and bring  him back more often for grooming so he could get used to it. Until then, he was too bad a dog for the groomer to deal with. The groomer then left  early, though the receptionist thought Grendel was adorable and didn’t know what went wrong with the groomer. This was said as he was licking the girl’s face.

#1. Kisses will get you lots of sympathy and petting. Since he needed his rabies shot, we took him by the little animal clinic down the street. They had no problems with him at all and both Grendel  and his groomer  were quite happy with the results.  And neither  one of them had to be sedated.

#2. A little petting will go a long way.

So today, I take him for an afternoon walk. The girl dogs I’ve had have always rushed for the door to relieve themselves as quickly as  possible. He’s very excited that I’m taking him outside but when I pause to let him “go,” he ignores me in favor of dashing ahead into the great big world

#3. Go before I leave home? Why? The world is my bathroom.

He finally stops at the fern garden and hikes a back leg. Oh, yeah. He’s been holding it a long time. But we’re barely out on the woodsy trail before he’s hiking that leg for every other tree.

#4. Always save some for later. You can go anytime you want, as often as you want.

So this persists  for the next mile. He plows  ahead, panting  and   pulling  against  the  leash,  then  stopping abruptly to mark a tree. I’m  amazed at how much this puppy can hold and that he’s still giving of  himself  50 trees later.

#5. My territory. And don’t you forget it.

An older man comes by on his bike and Grendel is ready to eat the man alive, true to his namesake. It takes all  I can  do  to  hold  my  puppy  back.  But  the  guy’s  a stranger and really doesn’t belong in my  neighborhood. There are kids on tricycles on this trail.

#6. My territory. And don’t you forget it.

He stops to sniff a bush and is moved to poop all over it. That’s when I see that another dog beat him to it about a day ago. Watering the bush just isn’t enough now, not if it’s been pooped on already.

#7. Know your competition.  My territory. And don’t you forget it.

Within another 25 feet, Grendel is hot, panting, exhausted,  nearly  ready  to  be  carried  home  by  Mommy. That’s when the huge dog on the other side of the fence starts barking and Grendel rushes to the fence to argue. How dare that big dog talk to us like that! The bigger dog is coming close to jumping the fence and I’m trying my best to pull my little 15-pounder back and thinking this is really good for my bicep curls. I manage to drag him away from the  fence  and  he,  not  willing to  concede  defeat, yanks away from me long enough to hike that  leg once again and pee all over the other dog’s fence with every- thing he’s got left! So there!

#8. Always  save  some  for  later.  You  never  know when you might need it. My territory. Don’t you forget it.