My sister-in-law from Vermont is visiting us this week. This is an impressive feat because she's never been a big fan of rocketing through the air in a tin box with wings. She became even less of a fan on September 11th, 2001. So, visiting us requires her to get into her 160,000-mile car and drive across the country.
Lots of people have driven across the country though. Maybe that doesn't impress you. How about this? She did it at or below the speed limit the whole way. As it turns out, it takes about 8 days to perform that feat, assuming you stop every two hours to let your dog run around, and that you actually want to sleep at night.
How many of you have spent 8 days driving to visit us? Hmmm? Exactly.
So, shall I dedicate this blog post to her? I shall not! Instead, I shall write about her most excellent dog, Zante.
When I was a kid, I always wanted a pet, preferably a dog. My mother steadfastly refused this request. She had no interest in interacting with animals and definitely no interest in caring for an animal. The only pet I managed to wrangle out of that situation was a goldfish that I longingly named Rover.
Yes, that's right, woe was me.
Rover didn't last long though. Every time I turned on the ceiling light above his bowl, he'd freak out, swimming frantically in loops. I didn't know anyone else with a goldfish that could do tricks, so I happily showed off Rover's "talent" every chance I got. It didn't take very many times until he smashed himself into the decorative rocks in his bowl, ending his brief circus-like life.
Maybe it's good that I didn't have a dog. And, of course my parents got a cat almost immediately after I moved out of the house, but it was a really crappy cat, so I guess it worked out ok.
Anyway, Zante is a great freaking dog! He rarely barks or licks, and he's extremely well behaved and friendly. He's a very handsome "chocolate" labrador retriever. So nice!
Now, I had seen many damn episodes of the Dog Whisperer over Winter Present Tree Day break, so I knew I was a pretty good dog expert. I asked my sister-in-law if I could take Zante out for a walk to the park and since she had just spent 8 days trapped in a car with him, she happily handed over the leash.
Zante and I marched out the door. I held the leash confidently and firmly, letting Zante know that I was the Alpha Dog and he was a member of my pack. Each time he tried to lead me, I stopped the walk to reassert my lead with a light tug. We made it about 100 yards before Zante got tired of my crap. I don't know if he resented the dynamic, or if it suddenly dawned on him that we were getting further and further away from his precious owner, but he refused to budge another inch.
So, we were at an impasse. He wasn't interested in going anywhere except home, and I wasn't interested in losing a battle of wills with a dog. I considered dragging his ass to the park (I do outweigh him by quite a bit), but that seemed counter productive to the goal of getting him some exercise. I gave him the hairy eyeball and the ol' stank eye. No dice. Zante stood firm.
So, I changed the game.
"Zante! Sit!" I commanded.
Zante promptly sat.
"Good boy!" I squealed and I gave him lots of pats and scratches.
Then, pretending that my goal all along was to walk 100 yards and do a "sit", I led Zante back home. It was a win-win. Zante got to go home, and I got to save the teensiest tiniest bit of face for any neighbors that happened to look out their window at exactly the right instant.
I guess, for now, I'll stick with Blog Whispering.