I’m not alpha dog, my nearly two-year-old miniature dachshund taught me. She rules the roost, is queen of the castle and has me wrapped around her paw. I’ve read dog training books, books about dog behavior and even one about “How Dogs Think.”
At the pet store, she seemed shy, just like me, as she shook and cuddled against my chest. I took her home and at bedtime put her in her kennel, but she made this pitiful crying, abused sound. I turned on the light and warned her that this was the only night we would share a bed. Her sad sounds got to me the next night and the third night, and that was that, I became her sleep buddy.
During the daytime, our relationship wasn’t so easy.
My first dog wasn’t a Marley, but Zoey liked being naughty and disliked the word “no.” She chewed on furniture, barked like a 100-pound dog and wanted to go in and out, in and out all day long, as if the grass were greener on whichever side of the fence she did not dominate.
When she was naughty, Zoey would not stop if I told her “no” and was even more determined to continue. If I ignored her or she wanted my attention, she would become even more mischievous. She was stubborn, manipulative and wanted her own way.
I considered throwing in the towel, selling her, returning her, taking her to the pound. I tried ignoring her, squirting her with a water gun, lightly spanking her behind and putting her in time-outs. Nothing seemed to work, except time and waiting for her to learn and to grow up. And I, too, had to learn how to not give up.
I was rewarded walking in the door after each day at work.
Zoey greeted me with wiggles starting with her tail that moved her whole body into alarcity. She leaped off the chair and ran circles around the coffee table, stopping for a pet before running more circles.
From Zoey, I learned what friendship means in simple language and how to give my heart to a dog. Usually, I am guarded when it comes to making friends. I was teased as a child for being shy and did not learn essential social skills, such as reading facial expressions and gestures. I carried this insecurity into my adulthood.
I lose my inhibitions with Zoey. She kisses me, lets me hug her for 30 seconds and invites me to play, play, play. At night, she snuggles smack against me leaning into my stomach, giving me a nightlong cuddle. I tell her that I love her and I know in her dog language, she says I love you back. I found the cliché to be true – my best friend is a dog.