True Tales: The Silent Treatment
By Rachele Baker, DVM – I am pleased to introduce LaDawn Edwards as the author of this True Tale. LaDawn is a freelance writer who shares her life with a dog named Sophie. Here is LaDawn’s story:
The Silent Treatment
Three and a half years after we brought home a springer spaniel puppy, we decided that having one dog was so nice maybe having a second one would be even better. But we didn’t count on the extent to which our first dog, Sophie, felt I was her human.
As dog experts suggest, we introduced the two dogs in neutral territory – a park that Sophie didn’t know. A few sniffs, a lick, and the dogs seemed quite happy together. That summer I had plenty of time for housebreaking, kennel training, and encouraging good leash manners for our new dog, Lucky.
One of the dogs’ favorite activities was wrestling in our fenced yard which led to some missing dog tags. At one point both Sophie’s ID and rabies tags disappeared (which made stalking the neighborhood squirrels way more exciting!). The day her new plastic ID tag arrived in the mail, I sat down on the living room floor to open the envelope, placing three-month-old Lucky in my lap to keep him from mischief.
“Come here, Sophie,” I encouraged, stroking her long black ears as I unsnapped the clip on her collar. I examined the slightly dingy length of nylon with its blue Hawaiian print, deciding what tools I needed to attach the ID tag, while little Lucky batted at the collar. He must have thought it was a toy that smelled just like his buddy Sophie – who was watching attentively. Smack, smack, taste, tug. “Lucky, no!” I scolded, taking the collar with me to find the pliers.
With the typical household interruptions – phone ringing, laundry buzzing, tea kettle singing – it was probably half an hour before the pliers turned up and I got Sophie’s ID tag attached. I looked around but didn’t see her in the kitchen, living room, or office. Considering that this dog is so fond of my company that she frequently follows me into the bathroom, it seemed odd that she would be upstairs any longer than it took to grab a favorite toy.
I whistled so she would know I was looking for her. I heard no sound from upstairs. Not a woof. And without her collar there wouldn’t be a jingle. But I knew she was up there. Good and loud, in my most commanding voice, I said “Sophie, come!” Dead silence. I was being ignored. Ignored by a dog with a certificate stating that she comes within fifteen seconds of being called. I was not pleased.
But I was familiar with illogical female fits, so I let it go. I gave her some time alone, pouting on her pillow under my bed, while I worked through my own frustrations. Then, after an hour or so, dog collar in my pocket, I hauled my basket of folded laundry upstairs to put it away.
“Hi Sophie,” I whispered to the black and white paw protruding from under the dust ruffle. “I brought you something,” I continued, in a voice sweet and low so she would know I wasn’t mad about her rare display of disobedience. More silence. Very slowly, so as not to disturb my emotionally ruffled best friend, I crouched down and slid the entire pillow out from under the bed. I gently placed the collar with its bone-shaped reflective ID tag around her neck and snapped together the black clip.
She still didn’t look at me. Then she gave me a look that said “You took away the thing that means I’m yours and gave it to that…. puppy!” I kissed the furry spot on top of her head. I sang a few lines of “I love you, Sophie” blatantly ripped off from “Bye, Bye, Birdie.” She might as well have been deaf.
Defeated, I gently replaced the dog pillow, with its cargo of perturbed pet, back under the bed and returned to the sloppy enthusiasm of the dog who still liked me downstairs. When my husband called to say he’d be working late, I confided in him about my difficult day, ending with “…and Sophie’s not talking to me!” It took another three hours and the return of her other favorite human before Sophie quit pouting and forgave me, returning to her usual affectionate self.
A few weeks later, when I got Sophie’s new rabies tag, I had my strategy all worked out. I slipped the rabies tag and pliers in my pocket and locked Lucky inside his kennel while Sophie and I headed out to enjoy the sunshine at the picnic table. A simple “Sit,” un-snap, squeeze, re-snap, and fifty seconds later the deed was done. Suddenly, I had forty-one pounds of ecstatic black and white dog on my lap, tail whipping like a windsock in a gale, forelegs propped on my shoulders for a full-body hug. Sophie knew I had learned my lesson.
About the Author: LaDawn Edwards is a freelance writer based in Huntsville, Alabama. To read more of LaDawn’s stories, visit her website.
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