Monday, October 27, 2003

And They Call It Puppy Love

I’ve been watching The Ellen Degeneres Show week day mornings. Well, recording it and watching it later. I hate to sit through commercials anymore. I watch mostly because I love her monologues. Listening to her is like having a friend invite you for a drive around the block in their car. You take off and the next thing you know you are driving down a street you’ve never been on before, making turns onto other roads from a direction you never expected, and, seemingly, meandering around with no direction. Right when you think you are lost, you pull up in front of your own house, delighted with the ride you have just taken.

Anyway, in the first weeks of the show she talked about her new puppy and started a contest to give the puppy a name. A week later she had a list of the top five names suggested by her audience. On the list was the name Lucy. When I heard that I groaned. The next step was for the audience to pick either this name or one of the other four names on the list. When the wining name, Lucy, was announced I started yelling at the television, “NO, NO, NOT THAT ONE, YOU FOOLS!”

Ok, lets talk about dog names. The first mistake humans make is using a Baby Names book to find names for their dogs. Baby Names books list names for babies, what they mean, and where they came from. For instance, under Lucy in a Baby Names book it says Lucy means “bringer of light.” How sweet, not a bad name for a baby. But that is the meaning if you are naming a human baby. If you are naming a puppy you should use a Puppy Names book because human names have a different meaning in dog world. In a Puppy Names book, Lucy means something like (how can I put this nicely) “airhead, duffus, goofball,” take your pick. Every dog named Lucy that I have ever met has been all of the above.

Lucys are sweet but they chew everything they can get their paws on. Lucy’s are balls of way to much energy. Lucy’s cannot walk up the stairs without tripping. Lucy’s never listen to you. Lucy’s think you are just playing when you scold them. If you let a Lucy off leash they will take off running until they are out of sight. Lucy’s are everything a puppy should be but the problem is they never out grow being puppies.

My friend has a dog he named Lucy who was suppose to be a bird hunting dog; a dog that finds the bird and then points it, keeping the bird frozen until the hunter gets there to shoot it. This Lucy would find the bird, point it for a couple of seconds the pounce because she like to watch the bird fly away.

I have another friend with a dog named Lucy who, when he took her on a run, leaped out of the truck and made a made dash across a field and disappeared. Three days later my friend got a call from a man in Denver (180 miles away) saying he had Lucy. She didn’t run all the way to Denver, she only ran about 40 miles before she caught a ride.

Other Lucys I have met have been just as big of a pain, in a loving way, as the others. So, when we got our second dog I knew enough not to name her Lucy. Instead I named her Emma. If you look in a Baby Names book it says Emma means “healer of the universe.” If you look in a Puppy Names book it says, “See Lucy.”

Emma is the sort of dog that if she had been our first dog we would never have got another one. When we brought her home we did not know we were getting the devil dog from hell. The first thing we found out was if you put your hand anywhere near her it was like putting your hand in a box of snapping turtles. After one week I saw the inside of Emma’s mouth more times that I had ever seen the inside of our dog Kate’s mouth in seven years. The second thing we found out was any time you put her in her kennel she turned into the “Taz,” the cartoon Tasmanian devil. She would race around bouncing off the walls of the kennel making it knock and rock. If you told her to stop and be quiet she would just bark at you, “You’re not the boss of me!” You’re not the boss of me!”

That puppy had a mind of her own. One thing we tried to teach her was she had her own bowl of dog food and Kate had her own bowl too. Each was to eat out of her own bowl only. Emma liked to eat out of Kate’s bowl, even after she learned she was not supposed to do this. One day I caught her eating out of Kate’s bowl and she took off running though the house. She ran out of the kitchen, into the bedroom, through the living/dining area, and back into the kitchen on her way to the basement. As she passed Kate’s bowl (without seeming to slow down) she grabbed another mouth full of food and then raced down the steps to the basement. This was the kind of thing that would make me want to beat her but at the same time want to laugh.

One day I told her to stop doing something and she stood there looking me straight in the eye barking, “You’re not the boss of me!” So I grabbed her, squatted over her and held her down on the ground. She struggled to get up but I said no. She barked at me to let her up but I said no. She struggled some more but I said no. She got angry and barked furiously at me to let her up. I quietly said no. This went on for 15 minutes and then she stopped moving and started to cry. I let her up and she trotted ten steps away from me and turned facing me as she sat down. She sat there looking at me with a baleful expression on her face and then got up and came over to me and sat between my legs, not looking at me. I petted her and quietly talked to her and told her she was a good dog. She leaned against me and then looked up and me and licked my face. I cuddled her some more and after a bit she went into her kennel and went to sleep.

I would like to say after this things got better but they didn’t change that much. Emma still tried to be in charge. Emma still did things that made me want to beat her and at the same time want to laugh. But now that she is older, 22 months, she seems to be out growing the Lucy behavior. She is a loving, funny animal who I would not trade for any other dog.

Emma at one year old on a cold December day

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