The Odd But Hopefully Endearing Things I Do Because I Have a Dog

I'll bet you $100 that even when stranded on an island I will wig out if someone leaves chocolate out at dog's snout level. Even if there are no dogs around.


It occurred to me on a recent trip to Los Angeles that my dog has me pretty well trained. As soon as I unpacked my suitcase next to the couch I’d be spending the next few nights on, I found myself double-checking that no headphones or cellphone charging cords were hanging out where a mischievous canine could chew them up.

Later that evening, my heart jumped when I realized some chocolate had been left on the coffee table at dog’s snout level, and I caught myself slapping the toilet lid shut lest my hound take a chemically-enhanced sip.

Of course, Mr. Moxie was some 350 miles away, safe and sound with his dad (who would never leave chocolate idling about) in San Francisco. Three years of being his adoptive mom have made me hyperaware of his every step and I often catch myself anticipating his next move the same way I can usually tell you how a movie will end halfway through. (Lame, I know, don’t take me with you to the movies.) Still, I felt pretty sheepish when I caught myself shoving the cords into my suitcase in a whirlwind motion in front of my host. And it got me thinking about the other “dog mom” things I routinely do that non-pet parents might find strange.

Telling the dog when you’ll be home. Jeff and I always tell Moxie that we’ll “just be a few hours” when we head out to dinner or the grocery at night. If it’s going to be longer, we let him know and put out something he can chew to pass the time. We like to think he understands. It’s a good thing we don’t have a speakerphone or we’d probably call and leave him messages.

Establishing treaties with the dog. This one might be weird even to longtime pet owners, but when Mox was six or seven months old, we would often come home and find parts of the couch or carpet torn up. We tried everything – crating him (he’d howl for hours, and the neighbors LOVED that), tethering him to one area of the apartment (he mowed down the carpet) – until finally we came up with the current human-canine treaty our household subscribes to.

We tell him to “go inside” his crate but don’t lock the door. Then we tell him when we’ll be home and leave out a handful of treats. And then we hightail it out the door as he eats them so he doesn’t stand there with those huge eyes while we lock up.

Insanity? Maybe. But we think he’s able to understand that it means “We won’t lock you in the crate, but you better take care of the house while we’re gone and here are some treats for your trouble.” And the funny thing is, he didn’t destroy anything in the house from that day forward. Until the one night Jeff insisted we didn’t have to leave treats out every time. Yeah, that night Moxie tore the soles off my favorite pumps. So the treaty lives on.

Turning any holiday into a dog holiday. Moxie has his own Christmas stocking and handmade sweaters for every holiday imaginable — St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Easter, at least three for Christmas … I could go on.

Singing my “dog songs” to cats and people. My family often makes fun of me for the songs I sing to my dog. I have maybe four that he knows by heart, and when I sing them to him, he knows a treat is likely coming … so he goes completely nuts, zooming around the room and doing a few dozen play bows until the song is done. Perhaps one day I’ll record this for you (or, you know, not). One such song goes, “Who is good and sweet and who deserves a treat? Who is very good? Who is very sweet?” and on that same L.A. trip I found myself singing it to my sister’s three cats, Earl Grey, Warren, and Theodore. They were unimpressed.

Checking under throws and blankets for dogs. If there’s one thing you should know about Italian Greyhounds, it’s that they’re perpetually cold. Mox will curl himself into a tight ball beneath the mahogany throw on the couch, or under the covers, and sometimes it’s hard to tell there’s a dog stowed away in that bunched-up duvet. So I always, always look before I sit, and I sometimes do this when at friends’ homes even when they don’t have pets.

Putting on lotion because my dog likes it. For some reason my pup finds me completely irresistible when I slather lotion on post-shower. It’s pretty good insurance that he’ll choose to hang out with me instead of his dad in the evenings, so these days I rarely forget to moisturize. I know, I know, that’s awful. I’m so sorry you had to read that.

Okay, if you aren’t rolling your eyes at this point, I definitely want to hear all about the weird things you do because you share your life with a dog.

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