Thursday, February 12, 2009

Walking the dog

I hear people talk, quite frequently, about how their dog wakes them up in the middle of the night or early in the morning.  I can't count the number of times my mother has complained of their dog, a curly-haired white little mutt named Teri, awakening her at 4:00am in the morning to go out.  So when I got a dog of my own, I expected to have a snout in my face early in the morning.

This, however, is not exactly what happened with our Dahlia.

A couple months ago, my routine looked a little something like this:

6:00am: I get up.  Some days I get up at 5:00am and this all starts an hour early.  I either take my shower or wash up and then wake up by checking e-mail.

6:30am: By this time I am sufficiently awake enough to get my butt off the chair.  I get myself all bundled up and then go to get the dog.  "Dahlia!" I say in a whisper. She eyes me balefully.  "Do you want to go for a walk?"  This is the point at which a dog is supposed to jump up with a big grin that says Of course I do mom!!  Dahlia rolls over, stretches out her legs, and rests a paw against my chest.  I rub her belly and then stand up.  "Come on Dahlia!  Let's go for a walk."  This is louder than before because I'm pretty sure she didn''t actually hear me the first time.  She can't have.  After all, aren't all dogs are raring to go when their person mentions the much-heralded walk?  I think dogs on the dognet are always blogging about the wonderful things they smell on walks (Today there was...CAT SHIT!!).  By this point, David is waking up due to all the noise and production.  He joins in the excitement.  Dahlia eyes him and rolls over.  Now there are two humans to pet her belly.

This is clearly not working.

David gets out of bed and joins me in my efforts to get her out of bed and moving.  She finally decides to get up and follow me out to the living room.  Once out there and near the leash and the door, she suddenly shows the excitement that had been missing before.

6:45am: We head out on our walk.  What had been planned to be a half hour is now shortened to only 15 minutes.   Luckily, David is home because he takes her out for a longer walk later in the day.

About a month ago I found a work-around for this.  At 6:30am, I bundle up and head into the kitchen.  I open up the refrigerator and grab the packages of Fresh Pet sausages.  I crinkle it loudly as I pull out a sausage.  When I turn around, what should my eyes fall upon but dear Dahlia, tail enthusiastically wagging, mouth open in anticipation of that lovely sausage.

Yes.  My dog is a food hound.  And this has been what my morning routine has become.

But this morning, miracle of miracles, I was getting my boots on around 5:40am and looked up to see that Dahlia had crept in (she's almost silent when she doesn't have her collar on) and was quietly sitting across the room watching me.  When she sees that I've noticed her, her tail starts to wag and she stands, moving closer.  Mom, are we going for a walk? her body language is screaming at me.  I scratch behind her ears, rub along her sides as she leans into me.

"Dahlia...tell me you want to go for a walk?"

And we're off for our jaunt to the great outdoors.  I don't believe for a moment that her new routine will consist of her rising from bed when I do.  But one can hope.

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