Confession: I Love a Bad Dog part one

He knows words. He really does. The word “treat” just brings a perking up of the ears. He goes through the motions of sitting, trying to shake with anything close by, and lying down, waiting for the aforementioned treat to appear. He’ll leave it sitting next to his nose if he’s told to, and then it will be gone in an instant. But that word is nothing compared to the ones indicating that he might be leaving the house and venturing into the vast world beyond. No matter what the context, no matter what voice is used, “walk,” “go,” “ride,” and “shoes” all bring about the same uncontrollable joy and chaos: jumping up and down off and on the couch; earsplitting, nostop, crazy barking; whimpering; cury tail wagging wildly.

Then there is the simple act of donning traveling shoes. Not flip-flops or sandals or dress shoes, mind you. He knows the difference. If a pair of socks and a pair of Nikes are in view, the dog goes nuts. I sit down to put them on, and he’s under and around my legs like a snake, nudging me, licking me, and barking all the while. He pushes at chairs tables, and couches with his nose, jumping back and barking more if they happen to move. I manage to get the leash on after forcing him to sit a half dozen times. He grabs the other end in his mouth, proceeds out the door, and takes himself for a walk. Realizing I’m not behind him, he brings the leash back to me, waiting for me to pick up the end so he can pull me after him with his teeth. Bad dog, but he’s so adorable.

We begin our outing with a run, and I keep up as long as I can. He would walk if I made him, but he loves to run, and I must confess that our daily treks are my only form of exercise. He begins with the usual doggy trot, and if I don’t slow him down he progresses to a leep, which is when I have to let go or tell him to slow down. He slows down and looks back at me congenially or digusted — I can’t tell which.

Sometimes, a dog and owner walk by, and he’s oblivious. The very next time, he’s in attack mode. No telling which it wll be, so I try to cross the road if anyone else is walking by. He hates anyone on wheels and will bite ankles unless the leash is held plenty tight. Some joggers can trot on by without a notice from the bad dog, but that guy in the purple sweats will experience the wrath of Jack everytime. Can’t be the purple pants. Dogs are color blind, right?

So, as long as there is no one to attack, our walks are lovely experiences. There is a nice pace once the running is out of his system. He stops to sniff at shady, scenic locations. We watch the butterfies. We flee the coyotes. All is good until we reach the dreaded last three blocks before home. He hangs his head and drags his paws and stops at every bush. He’s like a toddler having a tantrum because he doesn’t want to go home yet. I have to coax him: “Come on, Jack. I think Daddy might be home. There are treats at home. We might have a bunny in our yard.” He knows the words “Daddy” and “bunny,” so his ears perk up. He trudges on, and when we reach the house, he stares at me expectantly. “Where’s my treat?” he asks. I throw it for him to catch. And now that we are home, there is a whole new set of difficulties in the life of the bad dog.

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