5 Ways I Sound Like My Mother When Talking to My Dog


You know the theory that you will eventually turn into your mother? Turns out it applies even if your children are the furry kind.

I don’t have any human children, but I do have a dog. His name is Riggins, and he is my 10-year-old baby boy. I adore him, but I often find myself spitting out “mom-isms” at him and his doggie friends. Luckily, I really like my mom, so turning into her isn’t a problem for me at all. After all, I’ve discovered time and again that mom is always right!

My baby boy Riggins and me. (All photos by Wendy Newell unless stated otherwise.)
Baby boy Riggins and me. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Looking back at my childhood, I have to say my mom had it pretty good with my younger sister and me. We were good girls. Of course there were the few times I angrily poured a glass of water over my sister’s head or convinced her to trade all my nickels for her dimes since they were bigger. (I doubled my money, and she seemed happy with the larger coins. I still don’t see what was wrong with that win-win situation.)

Mostly, my mom’s sayings were said in a soft-whispered tone. I, on the other hand, yell my mom-isms at the top of my lungs. That’s the difference between raising girls (the human kind) and boys (the puppy kind).

Riggins loves his grandma!
Riggins loves his grandma! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Here are five phrases I use with Riggins that sound oddly familiar:

1. I use Riggins full name

The "Newell" family. Kili Newell,
Kili Newell, Hanna Newell, Happy Newell, and Riggins Newell GET OVER HERE! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I mentioned in a previous story that Riggins knows that when I use his full name, I mean business! Riggins doesn’t have a middle name, but it doesn’t stop me from making something up each time: Riggins “Smelly” Newell, Riggins “John” Newell, Riggins “Sneaky-Cat” Newell, they all work.

As a dog sitter, I watch a number of dogs and often have to call out their full names as well. Most of the time, I don’t know their last names. I know the first names of my clients and of their dogs, but almost never remember their last. For that reason, every dog with me gets the last name Newell. At any given time, if you are following us on the trails, you will hear me calling out to the Newell “family.” “HANNA NEWELL, RIGGINS NEWELL, HAPPY NEWELL, KILI NEWELL. YOU ALL GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!”

2. “Don’t make me pull this car over”

Riggins and his friend Coco lounge in the backseat of the car.
Riggins and his friend Coco lounge in the backseat of the car. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The ultimate threat is, “Don’t make me pull this care over.” Turns out, this fear-inducing statement doesn’t have the same effect on pups. My version usually starts with a “HEY!” to get everyone’s attention. More often than not, I do actually have to pull the car over and rearrange the dogs to help keep the peace.

Sometimes Riggins gets grouchy with his friends and will growl if anyone crosses over to his place in the backseat. Those cases require me to pull out No. 1 AND No. 2. “RIGGINS CRAZY-HORSE NEWELL, DON’T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER!”

3. “Can’t you see I’m on the phone”

Riggins leads the troops in demanding my attention.
Riggins leads the troops in demanding my attention. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I remember my mom saying this to me. The answer was always obvious: Of course I could see she was on the phone, but that didn’t mean I didn’t need her any less! As I got older and my friends started to have children, I learned that calling them ended up with me listening to a conversation between my friend and her child instead me talking to her. Sometimes I’d kick back and listen, and sometimes I’d politely suggest that I call back later, and hang up.

Riggins is usually very polite while I’m on the phone, choosing to curl up on my bed and sleep while I’m busy. Currently I work from home, and I’m on the phone all afternoon. That is, until 4 p.m. sharp, when Riggins rallies the troops to come in and let me know it is now time to pay attention to them. Riggins is the leader and will stand next to my chair, beginning an insistent whine that, if left unattended, will grow to a rhythmic staccato bark.

In response, I stand up, put my hand out toward Riggins in a stop-sign motion, and whisper, “Too early.” And then I mute my phone and bark back, “CAN’T YOU SEE I’M ON THE PHONE?”

4. “I know what you are doing. I can see you!”

I'm lying. I obviously don't always see them! Riggins and his friend Sissy look over some carnage.
I’m lying. I obviously don’t always see them! Riggins and his friend Sissy look over some carnage. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I could have sworn that my mom actually did have eyes on the back of her head. Now, as a mom, I understand that another set of eyes isn’t needed. You can feel it in the air. Things are a little too quiet, or there is a rustle of paper in the corner of a room, or you hear the tap tap tap of toenails on the kitchen floor. THAT PUP IS UP TO NO GOOD!

When I’m not hiking with the dogs I watch, I’m working on the computer. Despite my focus being on what I’m typing, I’m aware of where those little fluffballs are. At least once a day, I’m working AND yelling, “I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. I CAN SEE YOU!” It’s a lie, of course, but the pups don’t seem to notice, and it often stops them in their tracks. Just like it did me when I was little!

Sadly I haven’t honed this skill as well as my mom, as the pups still manage to make a mess of things in my house on a regular basis!

5. I use all those old-timey sayings

I love Riggins a bushel and a peck!
I love Riggins a bushel and a peck! (Photo by Lori Fusaro)

Some of what comes out of my mouth didn’t start with my mom but her mom and possibly previous generations. I say, “I love you a bushel and a peck …” to my sweet Riggins on a regular basis. I yell, “Hold your horses” (which I have modified to “horsies”) on almost every hike. And, “Shake a tail feather” is a statement that almost always gets snickers out of fellow hikers when I throw it over my shoulder to one of the pups.

I suppose there is nothing we can do about it. We are destined to become our moms no matter what species we are moms to!

What do you say or do with your dog that reminds you of your mother? Share with us in the comments!

Read more about Wendy and Riggins:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

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