Confession: I Get My Cheap Thrills at My Dog’s Expense

There's no end to the fun I have with my dog, often at his expense. Is that awful?


You love your dog for an infinite number of reasons. She’s a faithful companion. He makes you smile. They relieve your stress. They bring love into your life. But how about how willing they are to put up with us, when we use them for our own personal amusement?

I know I’m not alone here, what with Maymo the Lemon Beagle’s videos garnering as many as one million views. One of the favorites is the video where Maymo the Beagle tries a lemon for the first time and is equal parts stunned, disgusted, amused, and terrified. Of a lemon.

Plus there’s that whole dog-shaming phenomenon that gained immense popularity a few months back, as well as Things I Put on my Dog’s Head, which serves the sole purpose of sharing photos of dogs photographed with items on their heads.

It’s all harmless, but jeez, sometimes I think our dogs might deserve some sort of award for putting up with their humans.

Here are some things we’ve done to our dog Obi for our own amusement:

1. Dressing him up in every outfit under the sun

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with buying Obi clothes, but that also includes dressing him up in items that serve no purpose at all except to make me coo at how cute it is or giggle because it’s hilarious. Case in point: putting sunglasses on him. Or a Santa hat and bells. Or a lion suit so he’ll fit in with our costume scheme The Wizard of Oz. Or a dog-sized hat and scarf.

Obi, so patient, lets us do these things with nary a peep. But he draws the line at pulling the hood over his head when he’s wearing his striped sweater. Enough is enough.

2. Staging photoshoots

I am absolutely one of those moms obsessed with taking photos of her kids. Only my kid happens to have a tail, four paws, and fur. Sue me. The photos are mostly for my own personal enjoyment, although I do share them with family members who love Obi as much as I do. Obi can be in the middle of almost anything and I’ll make him pause so I can snap a picture.

On Halloween, aside from donning a costume, I made him pose with a pumpkin. At Christmas, I propped him near the Christmas tree. I’ve taken photos of him while he’s asleep, eating an apple, wrestling with string, and sopping wet after jumping in the pool (a choice he immediately regretted). I bribe him by holding treats over his head, just out of frame. It seems to be working.

3. Fake-throwing a toy for him to fetch

There are times when I’ve thrown a toy and Obi just plain hasn’t realized it’s happened. So I’ve done it -– the fake throw. I pretend to have a ball or toy in my hand, wind up, and toss it with all my might. It usually results in him dashing off in the correct direction and ultimately stumbling upon the toy I already threw but that he was too distracted to notice.

This also works if he’s in your face (or in your stuff). Pretend to throw, he’ll chase something that isn’t there, and you have a moment. It’s always pretty funny.

4. Letting him figure it out

There are certain times when Obi gets into something that perplexes him. I could intervene and help him in whatever situation he’s found himself in, but if there’s no dire outcome (or if it’s particularly funny), I just … don’t help. Maybe it’s a little mean, but I swear I’d never let him get into anything harmful to him.

I’ve let him battle it out with the exercise ball we keep in our living room, which Obi is convinced is actually a monster. I’ve let him try to fight his way out of his sweater once he gets tired of wearing it. I’ve let him wrestle his way out of his booties. He’ll figure it out eventually, no?

5. Unnecessary commands

Obviously, it benefits our dogs and us when they know basic obedience commands. Sit, stay, come –- those can be the difference between your dog chasing the UPS truck down a busy street or just occupying himself with your UPS package instead. But then there are those miscellaneous commands that we sometimes like to teach our dogs. Bang, play dead, roll over, that type of thing.

We recently taught Obi how to wave goodbye, and it’s basically the cutest thing ever. Learning that command has no real practical use, but Obi gets a treat in the end, so I think he’ll get over it.

So how do you use your dog for your own amusement? Let me know in the comments!

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