Jude is my retriever whose “golden” characteristics went askew.
Don’t get me wrong: She’s intelligent enough to respond on command, but she prefers not to.
And she gets away with misbehaving because of her dog show good looks: long, silky hair and a beautiful stance.
I bet she’d be a champion of record by the American Kennel Club if she were stuffed!
I can see the judges now, nodding their heads in approval, while checking her teeth and bones, her straight back and tail, the shape of her head and length of her nose, how her ears and eyes are set, right down to the shape of her feet. She’s pretty doggone perfect. The trouble starts as soon as she moves. She’s Type A for Alpha, overzealous with her LOVE for humans, and greets them standing up on her hind legs, Jude-style, face to face, placing her paws on their shoulders before the big KISS.
One day an elderly, soft-spoken gentleman rang our front doorbell. Ding! Before the dong, Jude’s response was set into motion (Pavlov would have been so proud).
Our aging visitor was a Census taker (not a “Common Sensus Taker” because if he was, he would have run in the other direction.)
She could hardly catch up with her four paws slipping in every direction as she propelled herself down the hall like a freight train to see who was coming just to visit her.
Leap. Slurp. She proceeded to kiss the stunned and gentle man and then rip his Census-taking-badge right off the string that hung from his neck. (Thank God she didn’t strangle him.)
She then ran in circles around the dining room table so we couldn’t catch her.
I did my dog owner’s best and eventually brought her to obedience school. In fact, she graduated top student.
And with age, she’s calmed down. I wanted to volunteer her services at a local nursing home, you know, give back to society; dogs can bring down blood pressure, they say.
Unfortunately, or should I say, luckily, she failed the written part of the volunteer application because I filled in the answers honestly.
Had she actually passed and entered an old folks home, I can only imagine what could have taken place: Walkers knocked over, bed pans dumped onto their sides, IV bottles crashed onto the floor, oxygen tents deflated, and false teeth flung mid-air.
A friend recently suggested that my dog’s troubles started because I hadn’t trained my husband right, first.
So, it made perfect sense to me. He’s the one she adores and emulates (even though I’m the one who cares for her), and he’s pure bred rebel, the cool guy in high school back in the day ... in fact, that’s why I fell for him as a teenager. That sure came back to bite me!
My husband never listens to anything I say. He’s always doing the wrong thing. Recently, a distant relative volunteered us to represent them at an art auction in New York City. The paddle Christie’s provided came in handy, but I got tired of smacking him silly with it under the table.
“OW! Why’d you hit me?” he raised his voice in the crowded room. This got me thinking: Maybe I should invest in an electric dog collar for him instead of the dog. A quick zap would be so much easier. But then, I don’t want people to see it around his neck and think I’m some kind of a controlling wife or anything. I know! I’ll get him a nice paisley ascot to wear over the electric collar. Nah, that won’t work. Everyone knows he was at Woodstock. It wouldn’t look natural on him.
What are my options? A taxidermist? Prop him up at certain occasions when he misbehaves?
The kicker is that my husband, the rebel, once my Young Fella, is now Old Yella, and he blames the dog’s bad traits on mine: neuroses, panic attacks, hyper-sensitivity, etc.
Next time I want to volunteer my services, please stop me and just volunteer to have me committed. When the men in the white coats come to take me away, Jude will surely give them a warm welcome at the front door.
Janet Lee Berg, a resident of Charleston, worked as a journalist for Dan’s Papers of the Hamptons (and Manhattan) for 12 years. Her debut novel, “Rembrandt’s Shadow,” will be released in September. She also is working on a children’s book.