We have taught our dog to communicate when he wants to enter or exit the house.
We had in mind one short, sharp bark; like the strike of a doorknob. Naturally Jed had more important things in mind, such as whether there is a world record for licking your own arse.
The best we could do was teach him to sit by the door and groan. It’s not ‘speaking’; it’s more a cross between a whine, a grunt, and the most annoying sound in the world. Like he’s constipated and is addressing a private motivational speech to his bowel.
Recently, Jed has been waking up at 4am and sitting by the bedroom door, groaning.
The first time it happened, we leapt out of bed and, working like the crack team we are, Husband opened the bedroom door in one fluid motion, while I urgently ushered Jed out. I suppose the horrors of The Great Puppy Plague of 2009 – or if you prefer, the Vanish/Frend Mega Promotional Tour Bonanza – are still close to mind. In fairness, Jed was only six months old at the time. He hasn’t been compelled to use his stomach as an automatic weapon for many months now.
However, we are always aware that Jed swallows possums whole. He’ll issue a hiccup and I’ll swarm all over him and fire him out the door so vigorously that if I miss, there’ll be a dog-shaped hole in the adjacent wall. And Jed’s all, “Dude. Let me get this straight: I’m not allowed run in the living room, or chew bones, or bring tennis balls, and now I’m not allowed DIGEST in the living room? Man, this place gets more like a police state every dog day.”
So. Our bedroom. 4am. Five minutes after Jed’s hasty eviction, he was back at the door, groaning to be let in. An hour later, he gave a repeat performance, and again at 6am.
The following night, Husband and I lay in bed at 4am, having a discussion over the soundtrack of incremental groaning. To set the scene, it was less like the climax of a romantic comedy, and more like a low-budget, straight-to-video slasher musical.
“There’s nothing wrong with the little fecker,” I said with a pillow over my head. “He just wants to stroll around smelling on stuff and lookin’ for action.”
“He’s probably too hot,” said Husband.
“Well, so am I, but you don’t catch ME groaning by the door.”
“But Niamhie, we’ve taught him to communicate with us when he wants to get out-”
“Yeah, but NOT AT NIGHT.”
“So what; he’s allowed to communicate with us during the day but not at night?”
The following day we had a family meeting, wherein (the minutes show) all parties agreed that Jed would not be let out at 4am in the morning regardless of volume.
That night/morning, I was woken by Andrew crooning to his dog. ‘Aw Floppy, what’s up? What’s up, little man? You too hot? Poor puppy. Let’s check if the windows are open. You want something to eat? How about a steak sandwich? No? Well have you enough water? Let’s have a look then. Aw, you just want your ears pulled, don’t you? Don’t you? There you go.’
I practice a tougher form of love than Andrew, both on my dog and indeed other people. I’m not saying it’s right but, you know. Maybe that’s why I’m more popular.
I’m just saying.
Over breakfast that day, Andrew and I blinked blearily at each other over our respective mueslis.
“I don’t think you should be ENGAGING with him,” I said.
“Well, I have to. Otherwise, he rams me with his nose.”
That night, there was apparently groaning at 4am, but since I slept through it I only have Andrew’s word for it. Mind you, the groaning did wake me at 06:30. It was only half an hour before I usually get up, so I brought the dog out and swore at him while we watched the sun rise. It was actually quite lovely and in retrospect I would totally recommend swearing at your dog while watching the sun rise.
There is undoubtedly a boredom factor in Jed’s nocturnal activity, but the last week has been blisteringly hot. During another family meeting – I swear, Andrew and I haven’t talked this much since 1998 – I suggested putting Jed in his kennel at night. However, we’ve never fully kennel trained him, and there’s a possibility we (and the rest of Port Underwood) will have to sleep through at least one night of Jed conducting a loud, one-sided conversation about how he doesn’t like being locked up. We considered putting him straight into the kennel if he wakes us up at 4am, but we don’t want to make it a punishment.
Seriously, we WILL kennel train him. Sometime.
Last night, we put Jed’s mat outside the bedroom door, and settled him there an hour before he usually goes to bed. This morning, seems like everyone’s happy.
But one in particular: