Our daughter recently bought us a sign that said, “Grandparents, so easy to operate, even a child can do it.” She is right. Our grandson has up wrapped around his little fingers and can do no wrong in our book. Unfortunately, we also need a sign that reads, “The people in this house are so easy to operate, even two dogs can do it.”
We are having a couple of bathrooms renovated and having contractors in our house since the beginning of May has altered the way the dogs behave during the day and at night. Fudge, my bravest dog, has decided the noises their tools make is something she just cannot live with unless she shadows me. Fudge has never been a Velcro dog and having her underfoot causes me to blurt out things like, “I need my space!” on a regular basis. I see people on all the HGTV renovation shows talking about sight lines and open concept floor plans and all I can think is, “they must not have two dogs who stand in your day most of the day!” Both dogs seem to want to be closer to me since we started the renovations and I feel like I am spending a large part of my day at an obstacle course. The other day I told John I am one step away from having a nervous disorder and he said he felt like I took that step years ago. FYI: people who state to others that they are on edge aren’t very receptive to jokes made at their expense.
I don’t know why the dogs are more stressed because the people working in the house have been great, but we are very routine oriented around here and our routine has definitely been different. It has carried over into our nighttime routine and here is where I think Karma has decided to step in and teach John a lesson or two. Usually, the dogs follow me to the bedroom when I go back there to watch my TV shows. We split up around 8 pm and don’t come back together until John comes to bed. The last time Hayley visited she said something about the lack of conversation after 8 in our house and we both looked at her and said, “Dr. Phil, if we need help, we will call you.”
Well, all that has changed now, and Fudge and Vern seem to need more of John’s attention at night. I will come out of the bedroom looking to see where my nighttime companions are only to find John holding Vern’s paw or sitting in his recliner with Fudge on his lap. Neither dog is settling well and both of us really need them to settle after 8 pm. In addition, from the bedroom I can hear the front door opening and closing too many times and when I yell for an explanation, John will yell back that Fudge keeps insisting to go out. This means Vern follows Fudge and usually barks, then I bark that Vern has to come back in, then John barks that he has about had it with the dogs, and well, this is way too much partying for us.
The thing I want to know is how does Fudge make John listen to her just by staring and a couple of nudges with her paw. The other day I had to leave early for an appointment and left explicit instructions with John about what to do when the contractors arrived. I knew he would be leaving for work after they got to our house, so I told him to be sure and remind them to shut all doors and gates and not let the dogs outside for any reason. He knows I am phobic about the dogs barking too much when left to their own devices outside. I just don’t want to open the door one morning to find a petition signed by all the neighbors hanging on our front door stating that they all want to vote Fudge and Vern off the island.
So, imagine my surprise, when I arrived home and I could hear the dogs barking from somewhere outside the house. Somehow, despite my very detailed instructions, what John heard was lock the dogs up on the upper deck OUTSIDE and then leave for work. Even the workmen sensed there was trouble when I stomped into the house and demanded to know who left the dogs outside unattended. All three of them wasted no time in throwing John under the bus. It took me two days to get over that one and it probably took John three days to regain his hearing in both ears.
The funny thing is it took us both a bit to catch onto Fudge’s game, but based on some highly skilled detective work and/or the fact that she immediately falls asleep when John gets into bed, we now know she wants him settled, so she can go to sleep. The first night that he came to bed early muttering, “She just keeps pawing me and I don’t know what she wants,” she pretty much answered that thought non-verbally when she followed right behind him and promptly fell asleep. She slept like the dead that night as if she was completely worn out from trying to get her point across to John. I know that feeling and marvel that a few pokes from Fudge did what I can’t do with very detailed instructions.
We now have a 50 pound dog dictating to us when we should go to bed and we are hoping that changes when the contractors leave and our life gets back to normal. Otherwise, there will be far more talking after 8 pm than is good for our marriage. Things like, “stop flipping channels…stop asking me what is going on…yes, I like this show and no, I don’t think it is for people without any sense.” It’s just better the old way in our household and we hope Fudge is going to let John start staying up late again soon.