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Seven habits of highly effective dogs

“Well, we’re going to be adding a new member to the household,” I informed husband-head with a smile.Husband-head turned white as a sheet and looked absolutely aghast.”We agreed we weren’t going to do that!” he protested. “How COULD you without discussing it with me first?””Easy,” I said simply. “I told my girlfriend we’d watch her dog for a week. I didn’t think you’d have such a spaz about it …”Husband-head practically went limp with relief.Our temporary ward was an older, little female Beagle named “Reba.” The first thing Reba did was to inform our two large, male yellow Labs, Weber and Wyatt, who was going to be in charge while she was there.Reba barked at the W’s if they tried to get on the couch, which she had claimed as her own. She barked at them if they stood in her way to get through the door to outside. She stole their chew toys and kicked them off their pet beds.”Wow,” husband-head observed. “Typical female … bossing everyone around.”But she was sweet as hell and I loved her.She was smart, too. It didn’t take Reba long to get with the program and join in the same behavior as the other two, which leads me to believe that, no matter what the age or species of your canine companion, there are certain habits that are universal to all dogs.1) Barking – This is an essential part of a dog’s life. You will get in trouble from your owners if you do it too early in the morning when you’re let out to pee. However, it is necessary to go ballistic and bark if someone, anyone, should have the audacity to walk on the public sidewalk past the house.2) Sniffing – The nose knows. It knows if you have “cheated” on them by leaving the house and perhaps petted another dog along the way. Prepare for the “Doggie Inquisition” when you get back. It is best to stand with arms outstretched and pretend you’re at the airport security checkpoint. Eventually you will be released.3) Licking – Nobody is quite sure why dogs want to lick you, but they all do. Mine like to lick me if I’m between showers or if I’ve just showered and applied moisturizer. I think it’s a form of endearment, although husband-head insists they just want the salt off your skin. But it can be particularly disconcerting if they’ve just finished licking their private parts …4) Belly rubs – When petting a dog, it will likely roll over on its back and want you to rub its belly. We are not sure why this is the optimal spot, but it is. Rub it.5) Treats – We keep a stash of different flavored treats at our house. We’re not sure if they really know the difference between them, or say, a piece of lint from the dryer. But they demand them … and often.6) Bed positioning – We have found that letting your cute little puppy sleep on the pillows between you is adorable when they are 8 weeks old. We have also found that the now full-grown puppy still thinks it belongs on the pillows between you, which is not so adorable.7) Feeding time – We want to eat at our scheduled times and we want to eat at your scheduled times, is the motto that the dogs in this house, and their guests, live by. While Reba enjoyed engaging in the household habits of our dogs, she was also ecstatic when her owners picked her up, making us wonder if perhaps she didn’t have such a good time after all.But I enjoyed having her and it made me ponder the thought of getting a third dog.The K9 Advantix commercial on TV selling the flea, tick and mosquito repellent for pets didn’t help a bit. It featured the cutest little singing Lab puppy.”There ain’t no bugs on me, there ain’t no bugs on me!” it sang to the old folk tune by the same name. “There may be bugs on some of you mugs, but there ain’t no bugs on me!”When husband-head saw me literally stop what I was doing to stare at the commercial, he knew what I was thinking.”No,” he said firmly. “You’re not getting a puppy.””What could be worse than the pitter-patter of little paws?” I challenged. “Or would you prefer the alternative?”Husband-head again turned white as a sheet and looked absolutely aghast …Heidi Rice is a reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.


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