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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ramblings of a dog owner (non-pet people might want to come back another time)

[I'm not a cat or dog blogger, so I hope you'll cut me some slack this once to ramble on about some furry friends]

I firmly believe that anyone who makes fun of people for anthropomorphizing their pets has most likely never had one. 

It's inevitable that we talk to our furry friends as if they can really understand every word... and we assume that our animals possess a wide range of emotions, wisdom and even bravery that - let's be honest for a moment - probably are more correctly attributable to instincts and evolutionary memory.

But none of that matters to those of us who have chosen to share our homes and our lives with beloved pets.  We spoil them like children and revel in the seemingly limitless affection and devotion they show us in return.  Okay, with cats maybe some of the affection and devotion is wishful thinking on the part of the owner... but a purring cat on one's lap on a rainy evening is strong medicine for whatever ails you.

What set me down this train of thought is the fact that we have two wonderful dogs; Jordan and Lulu.  

Strangely, even though both dogs are of similar genetic composition (with the predominant ingredients in both being Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd), they could not be more different.  And in keeping with what I've written above, the way I am going to describe the differences between Jordan and Lulu will sound loony to anyone who has never shared their life with an animal.

At 12 years old (tfu tfu tfu), Jordan is the matriarch of the household.  A former companion dog to an elderly woman, we adopted her when she was already two years old.  In keeping with her former 'profession', she is calm, attentive, obedient and [seemingly] intensely aware of even the smallest ailment and complaint in her family.  She has the soft mouth of a Lab, but her spirit and keen intelligence is all shepherd.

Jordan's bedtime routine is to wait until the last person has left the living-room and then slowly make the rounds of all the bedrooms.  She will sometimes linger in the children's rooms until they have drifted off to sleep, but will eventually end up in our room, where she will only go to bed for the night once Zahava and I have gone to sleep.  The only exception to this routine is if someone is sick... in which case she will invariably stay by that person's side throughout the night.

Lulu, on the other hand, has the classic Labrador personality; happy-go-lucky, excited, enthusiastic, interested in everything and everyone and willing to eat anything and everything.  Our vet put it best when he said that Labradors are wonderful dogs, but they are the ADHD kids of the canine world.

Naturally, a lot of Lulu's excitability can be attributable to the fact that she is still essentially an adolescent.  Even though her body has pretty much reached full size, she is a very immature dog and will likely (hopefully) calm down and grow some common sense over the coming years.  But in keeping with my previous remarks, I look at her lovable enthusiasm alongside Jordan's calm wisdom, and can't help but compare and contrast the two.

And yes... I do play favorites.

Unlike with children, most dog training books advise owners to show preference for one animal over another.  In any household with more than one dog, one is always going to assume the Alfa role, and that one must be fed first and shown preferential treatment over the other(s) to avoid confusing (or even undermining) them. 

Since Jordan was an older adult when we brought Lulu home as a pup, Jordan has always assumed the Alfa role.  Lulu has almost always respected this difference in their status and shows the typical affectionate deference to Jordan when they are together.  Occasionally when they are play-fighting Lulu will over-step her bounds, but Jordan will always put her back in her place.  So following their lead, we feed Jordan first and give her a slightly bigger portion of any treats we divide between them.

But before you get the idea that Lulu is neglected, let me assure you that she is lavished with plenty of affection and attention.  It's just hard to take her too seriously, though, when she dances around excitedly and barks and dashes expectantly to the door even when someone sets a drink down on the wooden snack table too hard.  

And perhaps most comical is that we have trained her to sit patiently while we fill her dog bowl with food, and she will only eat when we tell her 'Good Girl' and motion to her bowl.  During these moments of suspense, she sits with long tendrils of drool coming from both sides of her mouth.  We joke that this is an effective way to check to make sure the floor is level.

I haven't posted any pictures of the dogs for ages, so in answer to the many requests, here are they are... along with the stars they most remind me of:

Jordan (along with Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin):

Jordan   Lassie  Rin_Tin_Tin 

... and Lulu (along with her Doppelgänger):

Lulu  Jar_jar

Posted by David Bogner on March 4, 2009 | Permalink

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Is Lulu able to snatch food off the table with her tongue?

:)

Posted by: Karl Newman | Mar 4, 2009 2:54:44 PM

Thanks so much for sharing about your adorable doggies. Our Trouble*, a cocker spaniel-poodle mix, sounds like a mix of the two, but more like Lulu. Maybe we need to bring in an alpha dog to bring her in line..


*Name has been changed to protect the innocent

Posted by: Trip'n Mommy | Mar 4, 2009 4:28:09 PM

"along with her Doppelgänger"....


ROTFLMAO

Posted by: a. | Mar 4, 2009 6:00:32 PM

Post about dogs any day David!

When I come on Aliyah I think I might actually miss my dog more then my family...kidding of course, but you understand. She'll be joining me in 6 months to a year depending on the family's Aliyah plans and how quickly I can get settled in.

Currently in my house there are 3 65lb fuzzy wonders. I've taken to calling them Uncle Grumps (7 year old Border Collie), Slackass (my husky mutt) and Smooshy (14 month old Catahoula mutt)...which my family thinks sounds like a great name for one of the Bluegrass jam bands I listen to!

Dogs are an absolutely integral part of any family that is privileged enough to be able to have one (or several) counted as members, and you have a couple of winners there!

Posted by: Jesse | Mar 4, 2009 6:09:16 PM

Couldn't agree with you more, David.

My 2 dogs are German Shepard/Black lab mixes and the older female is normally calm and attentive, while the male pup is dopey. He's the kind that runs into a door, then sits down to look at said door and contemplate (with wrinkled forehead) what just happened...

Of course, every once in a while, the roles break down. I never will forget looking out our back door one day and seeing the (normally) sedate female grab the male puppy by the collar and literally drag the male puppy way around the yard while he was on his back!

Joe

Posted by: ProphetJoe | Mar 4, 2009 7:16:45 PM

Karl Newman... Yes. But then, so can Jordan! :-)

Trip'n Mommy ... I can't say for sure that Lulu has benefited from Jordan's steadying presence... but Jordan has definitely benefited from having a young dog to mentor. It has given her a new lease on life. Literally.

a. ... I can't tell, did I make a funny or are you laughing because I misspelled or misused a German word? :-/

Jesse... Agreed 100%. I grew up in a house where there were always at least one or two dogs. My favorite was a pedigree Newfoundland named 'Tiny' that we had through most of my formative years.

ProphetJoe ... Sounds like the older female had finally had enough! :-)

Posted by: David Bogner | Mar 4, 2009 7:30:42 PM

Before Ozzy came into my life, I thought people who owned dogs were masochists. When Isaac came home with him, I almost made him choose--the dog, or me (I didn't because I wasn't 100% sure he'd choose me). Now I can't believe how much I love him (Ozzy--and Isaac, too!). He has brought much to our family through some pretty difficult times....As a matter of fact I just posted a video of his latest trick on my blog--please go check, it's on the top of the blog and will only take you 13 seconds to watch!

You're dogs are beautiful!

Posted by: ilab@aol.com | Mar 4, 2009 8:40:32 PM

(oops, I guess I signed in wrong on the previous comment)....it's me, Baila...Ozzy's mom
:-)

Posted by: Baila | Mar 4, 2009 8:42:15 PM

You can't fool me David. I think Jordan and Lulu are really the same dog. How come we never see them together in one photo?

Posted by: David Bailey | Mar 4, 2009 8:59:19 PM

You had me until I got to Jar-Jar Binks, yemakh sh'mo. Give me an Earth mammal any day.

Posted by: Elisson | Mar 4, 2009 10:05:17 PM

David I thought you'd appreciate this nifty way of cleaning the inside of your LCD screen.

Hat tip: Plancks Constant

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 4, 2009 10:25:02 PM

Lovely post.
(Another doting dog owner)

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Mar 4, 2009 10:54:46 PM

Cat-lover that I am, I have a very big soft spot for dogs in my heart. Please give Jordan and Lulu lots of petting and tummyrubs from me.

Posted by: Rahel | Mar 4, 2009 11:06:11 PM

David-

As someone who has also shared dwelling places with dogs/cat at different times, I totally agree that they can be a joy. And fascinating to watch as far as their interaction with us and other dogs/cats go.

My roommate in my first NYC apartment had two of the biggest Irish setters I've ever seen. When Rum wanted attention, it was walk up to where you were sitting, and drape/drag a paw over your arm. Milo would just sidle over, rest his head on your leg and glance up, tail wagging.

When I bought the East Orange digs, I took in a stray cat on a freezing winter night. Gave her a can of tunafish. She ate, then with no hesitation, no "exploring" she walked out to the living room, hopped up on the couch and started cleaning herself. "That's it, I'm here..." And she remained for 18 years...

At this point, my "animal relations" are with my girlfriend's 10-year old pug. Vito. What a hoot. She's said he was crazy since puppyhood. Still is, but there's an interesting difference between how he interacts with her than with me. With her, since she's spoiled him rotten all this time, his "I want" bark is strident and very demonstrative. With me, it's higher-pitched with a little bit of "whimper." We both laughed when I remarked to her: "With you, he demands. With me, he asks..."

Of course, a big difference is that she feeds him. And he knows when I walk him, it will always be a longer, leisurely one where he can check out carefully what other dogs have been where, and let them know he's been there as well...:-) Plus, if I sit on the floor he knows that's his cue to go grab his toy...

Yeah, Dave. We could both go on for days with stories about these four-legged creatures we share our immediate worlds with...

Posted by: Mike Spengler | Mar 4, 2009 11:53:04 PM

Nearly every person in my ulpan class has managed to make a sentence or two based on my dog. I don't know what my ulpan teacher would have done if I had kids like everyone else.

Posted by: Alissa | Mar 8, 2009 11:10:09 PM

Nearly every person in my ulpan class has managed to make a sentence or two based on my dog. I don't know what my ulpan teacher would have done if I had kids like everyone else.

Posted by: Alissa | Mar 8, 2009 11:10:13 PM

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