AT HOME IN HEATH: PRECIOUS LOVED ME BEST
It might have been Bill who decided to save Precious from the pet store, but it was me she gave her whole heart to. She liked Bill well enough, but she didn’t hide who she liked best.
Post-Obedience School Behavior
Until we went to Obedience School, there was no doubt about it. Precious had been in charge. Precious was never the sort of dog one would call well-disciplined, but after the classes, things were a little less chaotic.
At obedience school she learned good behavior was rewarded with a treat and unwanted behavior was disciplined. Discipline at our house was mostly a firm talking to and occasionally a little (very little) swat at her butt. She figured out she could reward me by grinning and wagging her tail when she saw me. She was generous with her rewards to Boss #1. Then she decided a little piss on Bill’s shoe was an effective way to show him he wasn’t Boss #2 – she wanted that position.
For several weeks after the class, our otherwise perfect dog would pee on Bill every time he came home from work. No amount of discipline would deter her. The firm talking turned into screaming and the swats on the butt got harder, but so did her determination to show Bill his place in the family hierarchy.
This wasn’t a funny little situation. Bill was seriously considering de-dogging our family. It wasn’t clear what he thought that meant. You can’t go back to a pet store almost a year later and say ‘no thanks,’ but he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life being peed on by a white ball of fluff – no matter how cute she was.
Saved in the Nick of Time
Then I saw a blurb in the newspaper. Some guy claimed to be a dog expert and offered free advice. This was back before the phenomena of Google. Bill called him and apparently Precious’ behavior was not all that rare. Once a dog figured out they weren’t the boss, they tried to be a boss over someone. I taught Bill the basic commands I had learned at school and we shared the feeding ritual for awhile.
Almost immediately the peeing problem was solved, but Precious continued to show her favoritism. It was most obvious when we would come home after being away. Bill would usually lead the way into the house and Precious would either give him a perfunctory greeting and look for me or ignore Bill altogether on the way to her mommy. Then I would receive a hero’s welcome with all the wiggling, jiggling and jumping my heart could desire.
Though I always thought Precious favored me because I was the one who fed her, I was frequently told I was wrong. When we were away, folks had a hard time getting her to eat. We boarded Precious exactly once. It was supposed to be the best pet boarding facility on the Central Coast, but when I arrived to pick Precious up, she was frantic. When I got her home, she ate and drank like they’d starved her the whole time. I was not a happy camper.
So we started getting friends to come feed Precious daily while we were away or when they weren’t available, we’d hire a pet sitter. Whether it was a friend or a hired sitter, we admonished them not to just feed and run, Precious needed people time. The sitters warned me that I shouldn’t take extended vacations, because after a week Precious would quit eating. One said that if I’d been scheduled to stay away longer, she would have taken Precious to the vet.
When I traveled on my own, Precious would eat for Bill, but he said she spent a lot of time watching the door. We got to the point we would have people stay in our home while we were away so Precious wouldn’t suffer from separation anxiety. Yep, she was pretty spoiled.
Now I know how she feels. She’s taken a trip I can’t follow her on and my appetite is certainly suppressed. Come back next week and I’ll tell you some more tales of Precious.