My first dog, Jasper, was like a cat — he slept most of the time, he didn’t care for car rides or long walks, and only had the occasional burst of energy. He passed away a couple of weeks ago and while lamenting I hadn’t met him sooner, I decided not to hesitate and bring home a new buddy sooner rather than later.
A week ago, I snatched up an old, fluffy Great Pyrenees mix named Wally. Big dogs are supposed to be low energy, and when I saw Wally lazily sprawled out at the Humane Society, with his enormous brown eyes framed in wild Wilford Brimley brows, his insane Bernie Sanders haircut, and a white mustache that’d make Sam Elliott jealous, I felt like he was saying to me, “Yeah, lady, I’m the kind of dog who’d be interested in nap research and binge-watching BBC detective shows. Let’s do this.”
As he’s grown more comfortable, his personality is blossoming and I’m feeling increasingly out of my depth. It seems, despite my best efforts, I’ve brought home a Real Dog, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
On a daily basis, I’m online, Googling something and trying to figure out how to respond to him.
“Why is my dog pawing at me?”
“Why is my dog licking the vacuum?”
“Can my dog eat cheese?”
“How long can a dog hold his bladder?”
“Why is my dog barking at me and wagging his tail?”
It seems Wally is constantly telling me something in a language I don’t speak, and so, like a frustrated tourist at an international airport ticket counter, he’s taken to shouting it at me.
“I need to go to the bathroom.”
“I don’t know what you’re saying; I don’t speak Dog.”
“I want you to open the sliding glass door, lady, and let me go to the bathroom.”
“You want a piece of chicken?”
“I NEED! TO GO TO! THE BATHROOOOOOM!”
“I dunno what you’re saying, dude. Just get up on the couch with me and we’ll snuggle. Detective Inspector Lewis has the creepy monk against the wall for murdering the English professor, but I think the art historian’s lover — you know, the one with the massive orchid greenhouse — did it out of jealousy.”
“OPEN THE DOOR AND LET ME GO OUTSIDE!”
“Seriously, there’s no need to shout. Hey, what the hell, dude, are you pooping in the living room? What is wrong with you? Just tell me you have to go!”
I’ve ordered a dog door, but the frequency with which he’s trying to tell me something I don’t understand appears to be growing. As I’m writing, he’s pacing the living room, coming over to me, tail wagging and then wandering off to lay down. The detective shows don’t seem to have helped my ability to solve “The Mystery of What Wally Wants.”
Is he hungry? Thirsty? Bored? For both of our sakes, I hope I’m a quick study and figure him out soon. Since he’s already peed in the flower bed and eaten his breakfast, I think he’s saying he wants me to stop writing and play with him.