The Secret Life of Dogs

Dog in Bathroom
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It's no surprise that I love animals. They’ve always been a part of my life as a farm kid and as a veterinarian, and I was fortunate to marry a woman who feels the same way. We’ve always had pets as part of our family, and we simply can’t imagine our Almost Heaven Ranch without the cats, dogs, horses, wild animals (elk, turkeys, wolves — yes, wolves!)  and many more who share our land.

With our own animals, we have certainly learned to laugh at living with them. They probably think we’re pretty funny, too, sometimes: The dogs laugh with us, and the cats laugh at us!

Since I previously wrote about “The Secret Life of Cats,” I thought I’d do the same about dogs. Here’s what I came up with:

Bedroom Secrets Revealed: In the sack, dogs have it made. They get their choice of where to sleep and how long to sleep. In the classic paintings, dogs are shown asleep, a contented crescent of fur at their master's feet. Not so today! Dogs stretch out on the bed with their body trapping the human occupants on a narrow strip of real estate, their feet acting like tension springs to hold away other bodies; I call this fur-nomenon "furban sprawl." They also get to be dog-breathed alarm clocks, as they wake you up to eat or go outside and do their business, even on days you can sleep in otherwise. Dogs know better than to sleep in — carpe diem is their motto, or should that be carpe canem?

A Little Privacy, Please? When dog owners go into the bathroom, their pets don’t care that this should be “alone time.” As you sit on the john, they move into position at your feet to get petted. How many arms do they think you have? If you stop petting to attend to other business, they get impatient, running their faces up through the leg holes of your underwear into areas you want left alone. How would they like it if when they started sniffing and circling, we suddenly rushed over and stuck our noses you-know-where?

Flexibility Is So Much Fun: You see your dog stop in midwalk or wake up from a nap and lick himself in hard-to-reach places for what seems like forever. Sure, he has an itch, but licking for five minutes? That's just showing off! Then, after using his tongue as toilet paper, he wants to give you a great big slurpy kiss...and we let our dogs do this! And while fun is fun, be sure to report any excessive or persistent licking to your veterinarian — especially if you see red areas or other abnormalities.

What's in the Box? Speaking of the things dogs will get their mouth on if you let them … those of you who have both dogs and cats know the grossest dog treat ever. As a veterinarian, I understand why dogs dig through the litter box for “treats” if you give them a chance — it’s the protein left in the poop. But as a human being, all I can say is … YUCK!

Trick of the Treats: We need to have our dogs negotiate for hostage releases. Why? Because they can get anything they want every time they want it. The veterinarian has told you that your dog is overweight and that you need to cut back on the treats you're giving. But then you get home, and your dog stands by the drawer or cabinet that holds the treats and looks at you, then at the drawer, then at you again, his eyes like molten caramels oozing out a plea for just one, please, mama? You give in, and one becomes “won” as he does the furry tap dance and you enjoy his lip-smacking, tail-wagging pleasure. Next time at the veterinarian, you’ll fear the scale.

Rake Crisis Center: You're eating, watching TV or trying to go to sleep, and your dog insists on some heavy petting. You try to take a bite, change channels or adjust a pillow, and your pet panics the instant your hand leaves her body. The pleasure-pig roots you with her snout or rakes you with extended claws on her paw and pulls your hand back to her body. To your dog, this daily massage translates to "There's no place like (h)ommmmmm(e)."

I know you have more examples of the funny things that dogs do. Speak!

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