It occurred to me recently that there are entire stores dedicated to helping human beings try to outsmart dogs. Seriously, walk into Petco or whatever establishment wants to charge you money for rawhide and just wander around for a while. There are aisles and aisles filled with products and, regardless of their lovely packaging, the subtext for most of them is TAKE BACK CONTROL FROM THE ANIMAL YOU ALLOW TO LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE AND SLEEP IN YOUR BED, THE ONE YOU INSIST UPON DRESSING IN SWEATERS OR IN A NICE FLEECE WHEN IT GETS CHILLY. I was at one of those stores last month for the third time in one week and I stood looking for a moment at the array of items in my cart that I'd soon pay for and then lug home:
There was a plastic square designed to hold a wee wee pad in place. I needed this item so my dog might stop ripping her pad to shreds before swan-diving into the pile of crumpled wee wee pad she created in what I think was an attempt to fashion a plusher fluff pad than the one I'd so lovingly provided.
There were sprays of all kinds. One was to stop her from peeing everywhere. One was to cover up the smell of pee when Plan A went to hell. And one was flavored bitter apple and it was designed to stop her from nibbling on my moldings, which my former dog used to wander by without ever showing the slightest interest.
I had two plush toys with tags attached that claimed the toys were demolition-proof. My puppy demolished all of the moose and half of the chicken in two days flat.
She kept knocking over the dishes in her crate, so I found hooks that promised to hang the bowls permanently. Those worked. I also found her a pretty sweater that she happily romped around in for a while before removing it herself because apparently she spends the time I'm at work practicing to be a stripper.
"How's it going with Tallulah?" a friend of mine asked today.
"She's the sweetest dog in the world," I responded with a smile, "but she's having a hard time with some of the commands I'm trying to teach her."
"Which ones?" he asked.
"You know – just sit, stay, and come."
I bought and read three training manuals. I spent twenty minutes trying to decide which training treats to buy. I debated the merits of chicken vs. bacon. I purchased a leash the "experts" recommended for teaching commands.
My dog sits when she feels like it.
What I've realized is that training anything is really fucking hard, especially when you're doing it during the same months you've decided to cut bread out of your life. The benefits my sweet puppy brings to my life far outweigh the difficult moments, but it's not easy and it's made exponentially worse when you realize you've one again been bested by an animal that weighs 4.4 pounds and that means her brain is only, what, half a pound? I think I just always assumed my larger brain would prevail when it came to which one of us would outsmart one another and prove ultimately victorious. I was sadly mistaken.
The thing is, I know I have to train Tallulah now. I've listened to all the random adages I've heard over the years! I know it's the journey that's important and that success is 90% perspiration. I also know that it's almost impossible to teach old dogs new tricks and that lesson has led me to start thinking about our dear Housewives. What kind of tricks would I attempt to teach them if they were my pets – and more importantly, what kind of dog would each of them be?
Lisa Rinna looks very much like a cute Yorkie I once knew, so I've decided that's her spirit pup. As for what I'd teach her, it might be nice if she learned how to stop over-apologizing for things she really shouldn’t feel so badly for doing. Of course, should she piss in the corner of my bedroom in dog form, I'd like her to apologize for a day and a half straight.
Eileen is clearly an Afghan. I'd brush her daily. And while I have no idea about the mathematical capability of hounds, I'd instruct her to take over the financials of her household because all of these references to Vince's gambling this season have started to worry me.