When her eyes peered over the rim of the coffee cup and the caption under the picture announced her availability, my heart ached with desire. The agreement that we would not adopt another dog raced through my head. My husband and I, having recently retired, knew a baby would tie us down while limiting our adventures so we promised to remain childless during our golden years.
The corner of her mouth curled up creating a crooked grin making me wonder if she came to life on the page. Shaking my head because I recognized my own insanity, I folded the newspaper and placed it beside my husband's breakfast, then carried my dishes to the sink.
Once I returned, Randy sat at the table eating grapefruit, a bagel, and sipping coffee. He looked slightly confused and quite annoyed when he asked, "What happened here?" Unaware of the source of his consternation, I glanced at the page in his hand surprised to see the rough edges outlining a square that had been neatly torn out.
"Huh, I didn't notice that when I read the paper. What part of the paper is that?"
"The classified section. An ad for a dog is missing."
I leaned in closer, brushing against his damp hair to examine the source of his concern. Sure enough, a gapping whole appeared so there was nothing to examine, except I realized the hole once held the picture of a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy barely visible over the rim of a rosebud china teacup. How did that happen?
"Did you tear something out? That is so rude to spoil my morning pleasure before I even have a chance to read it."
"But I didn't. Well, I don't remember doing it." I reached in my pocket, discovered and unfolded a small newspaper clipping to be greeted by the face of the puppy from earlier. She winked at me.
While I held it out for examination, my husband stood and withdrew it from my hand. He seemed concerned since I continued to insist that I had no memory of tearing the ad from the page. Raising his eyebrows, he said, "You know we agreed no babies. It's the wrong time of our life."
"I know. I agree. I guess the cute picture simply caught my attention and I acted without thinking." When Randy finished eating, I carried his dishes to the kitchen and scraped the fruit rind into the garbage along with a crumpled piece of newspaper. Out of sight out of mind.
We went about out daily routines, roaming freely, coming and going, and doing little, focused on nothing more than relaxing and experiencing the moment, unaware of the future changes blowing in the wind.
At 2 p.m., I remember the time because we were watching Let's Make a Deal while eating lunch, Randy opened his wallet to retrieve a business card from a business he had visited earlier in the day. "Did you put this in here?" He held the crumpled picture from the morning's newspaper.
"No, I threw that away this morning with the grapefruit rind."
"She is a cutie." Both sides of her mouth curled up in a full-fledged grin, and we both acknowledged our fate. Randy picked up the phone, called the number in the ad, and scheduled a time to go look at the pup. We agreed we were only looking.
Three hours later, we stopped at the local pet store to purchase the essentials before bringing our baby home.
From the moment her eyes moved from the newspaper page to our hearts, Dagney's control of our life has been absolute. Sometimes I think having a human baby would be easier because as adults we control them or at least convince ourselves that is the case. However, just as mystic powers carried her picture from the newspaper to my pocket and then deposited it into my husband's wallet, our little girl manipulates us to fulfill her desires. Though I can't explain events of the past, I have made it my mission to identify the source of Dagney's superpowers.
Thus, last week I purchased, and my husband installed doggy cams in two rooms of the house and the courtyard. Following close examination of the evidence, which means I watch Dagney's behaviors on a phone app, I am learning the secret of her ways.
Seduction Practice 101
I discovered dogs, like flirtatious females, possess inherent instincts of seduction and just like teenagers practice goes a long way to manipulate the attention of their prey. Watching the camera, flashbacks of my daughters, our human children, bombarded my memory: standing in front of the mirror pursing their lips to look sexy, placing their hand on a hip and leaning slightly to the side, walking around acting innocent as their butts sashays from side to side. Dagney acquired and cultivated the art of seduction.
All those times Randy and I would stop and look at Dagney, laugh, and snap a picture were skillfully deployed maneuvers to capture our attention and affection. I watched as she laid on my bed and positioned her body in multiple poses all the while observing herself in the full-length mirror on the wall. She moved as a contortionist to wrap her body around itself to accentuate her physical attractiveness. Configuration my husband and I once thought adorable, we know recognize as calculating and sinister.
The Belly Rub
By exploring evidence on our hidden cameras, we what Dagney practice this strategy. Laying on her side, Dagney twisted her upper body slightly to expose her chest. Her head tilted sideways providing her the opportunity to make eye contact when her human entered the room. At first, it was obvious she found it difficult to twist herself in two opposite directions but eventually mastered the maneuvers successfully so that an observer instantly felt compelled to approach and generously massage her muscles.
The Full Body Spread
Not that I know firsthand, but I have heard the highlight of a Playboy Magazine is the foldable centerfold. How Dagney gained this knowledge I do not know but maybe my husband can shine some light on the situation; that is a discussion for a later time.
Our puppy has conquered the art of this pose to the point that with a single flop she assumes the position. Our camera clocked two and a half hours of her repeatedly throwing her body on the bed attempting to achieve the desired effect. At first her attempts were awkward and clumsy making us laugh. However, because of her dedication to perfection, she now gracefully rolls on her back offering herself freely to cuddles, stroking, and loving adoration.
The Restful Repose
We have recently discovered this position challenge her skills and proved difficult to prefect. It seems easy to the untrained eye but lazily resting while fully alert required extensive rehearsal. Our surveillance revealed the most difficult part of this pose required Dagney to remain still with her eyes closed. At first, she raised her head at each sound, then was able to minimize motion, and over time managed to still her eye movement.
She maximizes her power in Restful Repose by demanding the world stop moving around her so she can sleep. We tiptoe around the room, talk in whispers and if she is sleeping beside us, we sit still until she awakes. Our cameras revealed it was all a ploy because she is fully aware of everything around her. By pretending to sleep, she maximizes her dominance in our home.
The Stealthy Crawl
It didn't take science to understand Dagney's desire to be the center of attention. Her body becomes a barricade when my husband and I kissed. She verbally reminds us with a whine, bark or growl when a conversation proceeds too long without recognizing her existence. But we are amazed to go to sleep with her at our feet and wake to find her sleeping with her head on a pillow between us.
As we watched video from the doggy cams, Dagney's daily rehearsals enlightened us to her devious mind and ego centered thought processes. With the mirror as her accomplice, she daily practices her techniques until they became common practices.
Any pet owner who has returned home to an excited, overexuberant child probably believes the behavior stems from pure emotion. This is false. Our strategically placed doggy cam in the courtyard captures evidence of this fact. Excitability is a learned behavior.
At a young age, Dagney would race to the gate in response to unexpected sounds and wag her tail. As she matured, fewer noises captured her attention. And eventually, she became able to distinguish between different sounds. With her increased discernment, she practiced responses to maximize positive reinforcement.
The height she jumps, the volume of the bark, the consistency of her attention, and even the style of tail wag alters depending on the source of the verbal signal. Excitement at first simply required rapid movements. Now, she differentiates and proportion the amount of enthusiasm she shares.
Attitude Adjustment Aerobics
Attitude is everything is a cliché that reminds humans that any obstacle can be overcome with the right attitude. I believe dogs have a totally different interpretation of this saying. For a dog, attitude is power and through minor adjustments dogs gain the ability to control their world.
Watching the doggy cam provided evidence that dogs comprehend the meaning of attitude, subtle and stealthy, but apparent if observed over time. It may be instinct that prompt initial responses, but it is through repetition that our dog learned how get what she wants.
One day while Dagney played with a bug, I watched her refine her ability to direct his path. Surprised, I realized she employed that skill each time I was herded to the drawer with the doggy treats.
The many times she patiently watched a leave blow across the ground until its movement stopped when cornered between the wall and the rock before pouncing, I am reminded how she patiently waits under my chair when I eat popcorn ready to retrieve a treat.
Moral of This Story
When Dagney stares motionless with the corner of her mouth curved up and her bottom, front tooth protruding, we are being manipulated.