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Its the thought that counts

This morning, a neighborhood cat left a dead mouse next to my car.

It was a thoughtful gesture of appreciation, since we set food out daily for Pat the Cat – our unisex name for him/her, and no, I’m not going to get personal with Pat to find out the answer to that question.

The gift led me to think about cats, dogs, and presents. I know, you’re thinking – cats and dogs! Fertile subject matter for a blog! Sorry, this one is about gifts, because who doesn’t love to get a present? I adore a surprise, and dogs have proven to be quite creative at surprise gift-giving.

For example, here are some of the surprises cooked up by the minds of my clients’ talented dogs:

  • Interior design services – Each day, Humphrey, an English Bulldog, moves pillows and afghans around the living room, making whimsical arrangements of any textile within his reach;

  • Document security – Lester, a Cocker Spaniel, thoroughly shreds bills (both paid and unpaid) if they have been carelessly left on the kitchen table;

  • Artistic sculpture – Lacy, a Lab mix, ingeniously whittles table legs with her teeth into unique formations;

  • Closet reorganization – ShuShu, a Pekinese, coordinates shoes, boots and slippers by texture and taste, rather than color and style;

  • Carpet cleaning – Nellie, a Cairn Terrier, uses her face and paws to scrape surface dirt from area rugs;

  • Garden transplants – Jack, a Siberian Husky, happily corrects any slapdash placement of rosebushes and azaleas;

  • Bathroom remodeling – As in: pottying in the corner of the living room is much more convenient than the bathroom down the hall. Most dogs contemplate bestowing this gift sometime in their lives, some more often than others.

I assume owners do not relish opening any of the above mentioned gifts. In fact, they usually get quite perturbed with their over-zealous and generous dog. The typical reaction to any of these presents is:

Oh my god, what did you do? Bad dog, bad dog. Look what you did! Come back here! Wait’ll I get my hands on you…..

Perhaps you also say something unprintable. That’s okay. The dog doesn’t understand. In fact, the only thing your dog comprehends is your voice tone. He can tell you’re not happy but he’s not sure why.

Your dog lives in the moment. It’s not possible to come home and correct a dog for something he did hours ago. He just won’t get it. He can’t make the connection between your rage and the ransacked bathroom trash can. He’s not slinking off because “he knows he’s guilty.” And he didn’t do the deed because he’s holding a grudge, to get even, or because he hates you. He’s a dog, so he did it for dog reasons. He might be bored, in need of exercise, or unclear on the house rules for behavior. The gift you give your dog is to help him be the best dog he can be – with your calm, consistent guidance.

And remember that every day is a gift when you share your life with a dog.

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