We have a part-time dog. Sort of. Her name is Molly and she doesn’t belong to us full-time.
Molly-days started the week after the kids started school. The plan is to have her every Tuesday (or another day during the week if Tuesday is an issue for someone) for the duration of the day. It’s kind of like dog-sitting, which is great for our currently dog-less house, because it gives the kids access to a pet but leaves us free of any responsibility (financial, food) other than immediately caring for her when she is in our care.
Molly is a schnoodle. Part poodle, part schnauzer, and salt-and-pepper in colouring (although she looks more charcoal if you ask me). She is a very cute, personable dog and we love her like she’s our own.
She is rather comfortable with us, having spent weekends, overnights and vacations with us. She’s so comfortable these days that her nickname Molly-Girl (courtesy Sonja) has been revised to Molly-Monster…
Lately she’s been giving me some lip. Like when I pack her ball into a bag to take along to the park and she would prefer to throw the ball right now, in the house, she will bark at me. And jump up for good measure. And aggressively stick her head inside the bag to dig out the ball. Patience is not her strong suit, it seems.
Or when Sonja is up on top of a slide and Molly thinks that I’m spending too much time conversing with the human instead of her, the dog, she’ll bark at me. Clearly I must be confused about WHO and WHAT is important here.
Or if I put the green leash on her which I use when I’m on the way to or from school with a kid. She hates the green leash because she knows that at some point I will tie her to a big fence and step away from her a few feet to wave at a teacher who is releasing a child to me. Clearly I am a monster for ignoring her needs in favour over those of a child (or my own, come to think of it).
Or if we’re enroute to the school and she suddenly realizes this, she will park her butt in the middle of the street and refuse to take another step. Unless it’s THAT way, TOWARD the park (bark!) and not THIS way to the BIG FENCE, where YOU ABANDON ME for HOURS (bark bark WHINE!).
She has it rough with us, our Molly-Monster.
To preserve my alpha-dog (aka alpha-mom) presence with both Molly and the children, especially in light of the fact that our Rusty was a dog with some severe emotional issues and required to wear a muzzle, I make Molly obey me each and every single time she wants to do something. (This is actually a key point we learned during some distressful one-on-one training days with a fantastic dog trainer after a particularly trying situation involving Rusty and a lady walking on a sidewalk). Trevor, our trainer at the time, said that in order to maintain your leadership over the dog you must make them obey you for every wish they may have.
Want a treat? Obey the command sit. Wait until the dog sits before you give the treat
Want to go out for a pee? Sit.
Want to go for a walk? Sit. You will not put the lead on the dog until the dog obeys you.
This method of training a dog to obey is crucial, and since Molly is not our dog and I have responsibility for her safety when she is with me, she must obey me. If I want her to come when I call her I need her to obey me NOW, not later when she feels like coming. So I practice endlessly with her (and schnoodles are intelligent dogs, Molly caught on quick that with me there has to be absolute obeying).
Note to self: try this with Sonja…
Molly-days around here are an endless source of entertainment. As much as I would like to have another dog to call our own, having Molly once a week, and occasionally longer here and there fills a void quite nicely these days.