We have a little dog, named Molly. The Moll, as we call her, is a cross between a dachshund and a Papillion. She was found abandoned at the age of six months and given to us. From the very beginning, her dachshund heritage was unmistakable. Already obvious was a long body, dachshund chest and the crooked front legs. Her ears were dachshund ears, but they were set wrong. They wouldn’t lie down. Her non-dachshund features made us and a Sheltie breeder think of sheltie, but as Molly grew, her Papillion heritage became obvious, both because she developed a bit of the butterfly fringe over her ears that papillions are known for, and the cascade of fur for a tail that curves over the back.
Molly has both the dachshund and the Papillion personalities, but she doesn’t mix them. Either she is one, or the other. She either wants to please us, or she’ll have a “screw you” attitude that dachshunds get when they do NOT want to cooperate.
Molly’s food is kept in a galvanized trash can with a lid. We buy her 20 lbs of food at a time and it lasts for quite a while. I’ve come to think of buying her food as “renewing her contract.”
Why do I think of buying food as renewing her contract? Because if I buy food it means that I keep her and she continues on in her role as dog. We do however, have a contract. It’s not on paper, or a computer file, but we have it nonetheless.
For agreeing to be housebroken, Molly requires a small dog biscuit for going outside. While I think Molly would be housebroken without the “cookie” as we call it, it was in the contract that we had with our dachshund Poo, and Poo expected the cookie because it had been in Frieda’s contract when Poo, the cute shorthair red puppy joined the big black wirehaired dachshund. So, because 25 years ago, I had to add a cookie clause to a dachshund’s contract or she would use our carpet as her bathroom,(boldly in front of us.) Molly, our dog today benefits from the cookie clause.
I eliminated the cookie clause from the dachshunds once and was successful for a year. Then one day, while outside, Frieda got to thinking about how she really resented the cookie clause being deleted from the contract when we moved to West Virginia. She apparently talked it over with Poo, and together they went on strike.
All of a sudden they would stare at me and demand a cookie every time they came in, and they wouldn’t back down. Not that a dachshund is known for backing down anyway, but for once, I gave in on this issue. The cookie clause was written back in, and the dogs were happy, at least until Frieda found another power fight to wage against me with.
One of Frieda’s loves was cheese. When she was about three years old, she took a big block of cheddar cheese that had hardened out of the trash and ate the whole thing. We found her wild eyed in her cage and an empty cheese wrapper where there should have been a hardened block of cheese. She had the tummy ache from hell. Since we knew that she wouldn’t be miserable for ever, we left her alone, checking on her occasionally. We’d laugh, and she would glare.
This did not break her of stealing cheese. Instead, it was the instigator. There was a cheese dip that was popular when we lived in Texas. You took some velveeta cheese and a can of rotel and put them in the microwave and ate it with corn chips. Frieda would lie underneath the coffee table when we served it to our friends and would moan loudly until she got some. Not wanting to hear that obnoxious moan, Frieda got lots cheese dip, earning her the title of “The Queso Queen”, Queso being the Spanish word for cheese.
Molly likes cheese every bit as much as Frieda did. While she’s never had opportunity to steal it, I’m sure she would. My life revolves around the tortilla, and with tortillas comes cheese. As soon as she sees or hears me opening the bag of shredded cheese, Molly alerts and sits in the kitchen between me and her food bow, wagging furiously, and as excited as she can be. She knows what’s coming next: namely; that I will take a pinch of cheese and toss it in her dish.
I’ve come to refer to this as “The Cheese Provision”, because Molly now expects it. It doesn’t matter to her that she gets just a tiny amount. What matters is that we fulfill our part of the contract.
We got Molly food recently, thus, as we have every time she has needed food, renewed her contract. While Molly’s contract has some leftovers of contracts from years past of dogs long gone, much of her contract is unique to her. She knows that she WILL get some cheese. Frieda had to get obnoxious and demand it because as much as she loved it, we never wrote it into her contract. With Molly, a few stands of cheese gets put into the bowl and she doesn’t bother us for cheese after that. There’s also something else that SHE has put in the contract. Upon entering the front door, no matter how tired you are, or how full your arms are, you MUST drop everything and acknowledge the dog by picking her up, petting her and sweet talking to her. If you do not, she will howl in protest. It’s a cute, funny, feminine howl, but it’s a howl. We aren’t often quick enough for her.
We have a small antique pew in our entryway by our front door. Molly rarely lets me past the pew before she howls at me in wounded protest for not adoring her sooner. Sometimes I’m not even given time to shut the door behind me. Because of this, I start sweet talking her the minute that my key hits the lock.
Frieda didn’t have this written into her contract because she honestly didn’t care whether we came or went. We would walk through the door and she would be stretched out on her side, reminding me of a side of beef. She would raise her head up an inch and give us a look, making this thought pop into my head :”Oh. It’s just you.” Poo would always want to be greeted unless she had done something. But she didn’t get vocal and complain if we put our things down first. Molly also has a clause for going for fast food runs because she loves drive through. She doesn’t get many of these runs any more, but she loves them when she does. If we come home bearing food, she always gets her own very small hamburger. She constantly nags us when we are eating, because she knows that this isn’t something written in the contract. It’s not a given that anything will be tossed to her. I’m often forced to stop eating and tell her “Stop this. GO somewhere”, which I’ll admit is a big vague, but she knows what it means because she gets sulky and slinks resentfully out of my line of sight.
If you have an animal, then you’ve got a contract with them, too. Before you stop and protest, think about it. Are there things that you do that your pet EXPECTS will happen? Sure there are. You’ve got yourslf an ironclad contract, and your animal will be resentful if it’s not met. The amount of clauses in the contract depends on negotiation. If you’ve stood firm, there shouldn’t be a long contract. If your pet has you wrapped around the smallest toenail, then they’ve written the contract themselves and keep you running. The only way to change it is to rewrite the contract and not give in to demands of “But you’ve always done this before!”
Frieda tried to renegotiate her contract every day in her favor. We were there to serve her and she got increasingly demanding as her ego grew through the years and the sense of entitlement hardened in her little brain. We’d always refuse to sign, and the next day it would be once again, a power fight trying to get us get with the program and cater to her every whim. We called her “The Queen” because of this.
Over the years she manipulated people into playing into her hand, by not moving when it was time to go outside so she would be carried, playing dead so she would be the center of attention, and in the case of one person, had him up every 10 minutes by going up and moaning at him. This was Frieda language for “Go get me a cookie”. One day I watched in horrid fascination as that man let our obnoxious dog make him get up from a recliner every 10-15 minutes because she could. By mid afternoon, I was tired of her bullying and put a stop to it.
Be aware when renew your next contract with your pet. But choose the specifics carefully, because once it’s in, you’re locked in and duty bound to comply because “It’s in the contract.”
I wish you well in your next negotiation. If you have dachshunds, hang on. It’ll be an arduous and lengthy ride.
And with that, I’ll go back up to my cell and the very, very, top of the Abbey.
- An angry Frieda in a classic sulk