Bart: Hey Homer, are there dogs in heaven?
Homer: Yeah! Of course there are.
Bart: Are there dogs in hell?
Homer: I guess so.
Bart: Tell me one dog that's in hell.
Homer: Um, Hitler's dog?
-- The Simpsons (from memory, not the script)
We just spent the holidays with my wife's family, like we usually do, and, once again, my in-laws' dog did a fine job of wrecking things.
But it's not the dog's fault.
See, you may own just one dog, and you may think of it as your baby, or your child or whatever, but it's a dog, and dogs need training. Because when you don't train the dog, the dog takes over. If the dog is a German shepherd or a pit bull, and it starts running the show, you are going to notice really fast, and probably do something about it. That "something" is either going to be getting rid of the dog, or training it and you. If you don't, someone is going to get hurt.
But if the dog is a ten-pound Bichon/somethingelsereallyfuckingsmall mix, and you are my in-laws, you are going to do nothing. And it turns into mess.
This dog is in charge of the house. She thinks my in-laws are subordinate to her, the pack leader, and she guards them. She even guards them from each other. On Christmas day, my mother-in-law bent down to peck my father-in-law on the cheek as a thanks for a present. But Little Mussolini was on his lap and took a snarling leap at her face, missing by inches and growling at her until she backed off. Her reaction, "Oh, Maggie [Mussolini's actual name], it's OK."
We were sitting across the room with our three dogs, all of whom had looks on their faces that seemed to say, "Hey! Dogs can't do that!" and my wife said to her mom, "You know mom, this wouldn't be cute if she were a big dog." Her mom, totally missing the point, replied, "Oh, we would never have a big dog!"
I repeat: really?
And, before any of you dog haters start, it's not that LM is a "bad" dog. She just needs, like all dogs, some discipline and guidance. She is a pack animal -- again like all dogs -- and a pack animal is either a leader or a follower. No canine should be "leading" a pack of humans. When LM is away from her owners, but still in the same house -- like when they go off to church on Christmas and leave us at their home with LM and our dogs -- you should see LM immediately get in line. Zen quietude envelopes the home. There is no snarling, growling or any bad behavior at all. When our puppy approaches LM, instead of acting like Linda Blair's stunt double in The Exorcist, LM acts like a dog -- sniffing butts, wagging tails, the whole nine yards. Or if she really just doesn't want to be bothered by the annoying puppy, she walks away.
But the moment her owners return, LM is right back to battling Hitler's dog for that número uno spot in Simpsons canine hell.
It will never change, and, in the end, I am just bitching like a a crabby motherfucker who had much of his Christmas holiday interrupted by a miserable dog's endless kvetching and snarling. But, if you are reading this, do all of us a favor that my in-laws will not: train your dog. He/she doesn't have to be perfect, but your dog has to know its place in the pack.
And that's not in the front.
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