If you walked past my house at 11:54 pm on Wednesday night, you might have seen me running around my back yard in my pajamas and bedroom slippers, chasing my goofy golden retriever. It might have looked like we were playing, as she was leaping with joy in the moonlight.
We were not playing.
I was an ANGRY DOG MOMMY.
Rosie had refused to come inside, choosing instead to frolic and bark into the cold. First she barked at a neighbor’s car passing by. Then she barked at the leaves rustling. Then she barked at our garbage can at the end of our driveway. Then she started the neighborhood dogs in a barking chorus.
Twice I gave up on bringing her in, thinking she’d eventually get bored. “Don’t give her the negative attention she’s looking for,” mama me lectured. But Rosie kept barking. I imagined babies across our neighborhood waking and wailing. I imagined moms and dads across our neighborhood shaking their fists at my house, vowing revenge on that blasted Ramsey dog. I couldn’t take it. I had to go get her.
I called her name. She would not come.
I held up treats. She would not come.
I bounced her most favorite tennis ball. She would not come.
I put on my serious voice and said, “COME” the way the teacher taught me when we picked her up from Bad Dog Camp, where we paid lots of money to get her to obey us. She stopped in her tracks and stared at me. Then she smiled, ran past me, and bit off some shrubbery to fling into my hair.
“THIS IS SO FUN FUN FUN!” she said in Dog.
So that’s how I ended up chasing her around my yard. She seemed to enjoy my entertainment– the way she could get inches within my reach and then race away, as I tripped into one of the holes she’d dug.
“SIT!” I commanded. She sat. I walked slowly to her, reaching out my hand. “Hi there, sweet Rosie. I’m just going to pet you,” I lied. She smiled at me- a big wide smile like I was about to give her a taste of a banana milkshake. Then a gleam came into her eye and she was off, clods of dirt flying behind her. Wasn’t this fun?
Around fifteen minutes later, we were both tired and I was LIVID and was telling God that once Rosie was dead and buried, I would never have a dog again. There was dog poop on my slippers, plus a person is not supposed to sweat in the cold after midnight the first week of March. “SIT!” I said and grabbed her collar and pulled her back into the house. “HA!” I might have said. “YOU ARE NAUGHTY AND IT WOULD SERVE YOU RIGHT IF I ATE A DOG TREAT IN FRONT OF YOU JUST TO MAKE YOU SAD!”
I did not eat the dog treat, by the way.
The next day I was telling someone how exasperating my evening had been. “Yeah,” she said. “People like control. It really sucks not to have any AT ALL.”
Yep. It does.
It made me think about what I wrote to my friend in an email a week ago.
When she asked me how I was getting along these days in this world that can be so cruel, I revealed to her one of my coping techniques. My kids hardly believe that I love doing this, considering I’m generally a softie and won’t watch The Three Stooges because I feel so sorry for Larry and Curly and want to lecture Moe at how mean he is. Anyway, the truth is that sometimes I deal with the harshness of life by watching videos of people falling on ice.
Don’t knock it until you try it! After you finish reading, go watch this!
There is something so HILARIOUS about watching a series of people SO INTENT on walking across the street that they choose to ignore the reality that the street is frictionless, and all footing is lost. They put one foot in front of the other… and then they ALWAYS end up doing a HI-LARIOUSLY awkward dance with their shovel or their shopping cart or their friend and fall to the ground, . And then they get up and try again. AND IT HAPPENS AGAIN! They have no control and yet they keep trying to exert their control, sure that if they can just keep at it, they can make the ground behave as it always behaves. THIS IS HILARIOUS AND MAKES ME CRY WITH LAUGHTER BUT THAT’S OKAY. The falling people might get cold and wet and a little bruised, but most of the time they’re laughing too.
I guess if someone had filmed me in the backyard with Rosie, I could be someone’s stress relief too. (“She’s so intent on catching the dog that she chooses to ignore the reality that the dog is faster and between dog poop and holes, all footing is lost…”)
I suppose I should remind myself that whenever I have a chase session with Rosie, I should look at it as an exercise in letting go of control. There’s so little we really have control of, other than our own behavior. Especially if you have a dog like Rosie.
But maybe it’s time for a refresher over at Bad Dog Camp.
I do have control over that.