Monday, June 16, 2014

Pavlov's Dog

My dog is on a hunger strike.

We live in NJ and for the past week, it has rained. Every day, ranging from some moisture to world-ending thunder and lightning. Normally, my friends and I walk more than three miles a day each weekday morning, but only in good weather. I don’t walk in the rain (or snow or cold or heat or…). The dog is afraid of water and doesn’t like walking in the rain either. However, apparently, she missed her friends.

We walk with two other dogs. Dogs that are more than three times her size, but sufficiently cowed by her that they let her lead the way, suffer through her random attempts to attack them and generally, let her do whatever she wants. In return, when other dogs, garbage trucks or landscapers scare them, she steps in front and growls to protect them. I guess it’s a fair trade if you’re a dog.

Some days she’s happy to see them and runs up to them. Other days she actually turns her head to the side and walks right past them. For some reason, the other two dogs don’t hold that against her either. Must be nice.

Anyway, we haven’t walked in a week and in dog years, that’s apparently forever. My husband opened the front door to let my daughter outside to go the bus and Midnight ran out and wouldn’t come back inside. She ran between the door and the driveway, making her point clear. The only way he could get her back inside was to run down the driveway and chase her back into the house—wish I’d been there to see that.

I was in the shower before an early morning doctor’s appointment, so I wasn’t walking her this morning. As punishment, she decided not to eat.

Now, she’s not a food-motivated dog. Sure, she likes her treats when she returns from being outside, and will try to go outside more often to get a few more, but if we don’t give them to her, she still goes outside and she eventually gives up on the treats. When we first adopted her, she responded much quicker to praise and pets than she ever did to food. And when we send her to stay with my parents while we go away, she spends the first two to three days not eating. She doesn’t eat off the floor unless we tell her she can and if you leave food unattended, it will still be there when you remember it again, unless my kids (or dad) are around.

So food is not the be all and end all for her. However, she knows it’s important to us and I think she might be Jewish. She comes running over every time we sing the Shabbat or holiday prayers, jumps up and likes us to hold her front paws as we sing. A bit weird, I know, but somehow, very cute. And if we assume that she’s Jewish, she also knows the power of food for the rest of us. I come from a family that will forgive you anything, as long as you provide enough food. Run short, and they’ll sit shiva, never mentioning your name again. Thus, my reasoning for making enough food for an army.

Midnight has obviously picked up on this. She knows that if I see her not eating, I’ll change my behavior for her so that she won’t starve.

I just came back from walking the dog. Apparently, I need to change her name from Midnight to Pavlov. Off to find a human-sized bell.

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