One of the things I really love about our dogs, well, three of them, in any event, is that we can generally take them anywhere with us and have good behavior that won’t lead to major embarrassment or arrest. Bunny often goes with me to our volunteer meetings for hospice and lays down quietly without a fuss. At the nursing home, the girls are well-behaved and listen to what we tell them. When I can take her shopping with me, I often take Bunny along. She’s even dined at resaurants with me and proven herself to be a lady with enough etiquette to make Emily Post proud.
In short, Bunny has very good manners that I am proud of. If there is going to be misbehavior, that comes from our other dogs, not my golden girl. I realize that part of the reason people live Flattery is because she does get into trouble, and the results are usually highly entertaining. Actually, I enjoy telling stories about the trouble she gets into.
One of the sessions at BlogPaws opened my eyes a little about Miss Bunny, however. We had gone down to breakfast together where she quietly waited beside me, and she also went with me to hear the speaker give the opening words for the day. We went into the first session together and took a set near the back so that Bunny could have her little travel bed beside my chair and be quiet and comfortable while we listened to the presentation. I thought we were all prepared to be a good audience. You know what they say about the best-laid plans, though, right?
The presenter began talking to the audience and anew people trickled in and sat behind us, which wasn’t a big deal. However, then a woman came in even later with a stroller full of Chiuhuahuas and decided to sit right in front of us. She almost ran over Bunny’s toe with the stroller, and Bunny stood up. That wasn’t really a big deal, but then several of the little dogs were taken out of the stroller and set on the chairs in front of us. The social butterfly wanted to greet them, but I told her no. It wasn’t the time or place and I wanted Bunny to lie down and listen to the speaker.
She did lay back down, but just a minute or two later another stroller with two more little dogs came in and went up a row in front of the first stroller. Bunny was up again, and this time she turned on a good sulk when I told her she had to stay by me. The people behind me began to pet her and she took on that attitude that I think a lot of pet parents have experienced. She decided that if the people behind me were going to pet her, she was going to blow me off and do what she darned well pleased, because clearly the people behind me were a lot more fun to listen to than her mean old human.
I don’t blame the people who came in late, because I expect good behavior from my dogs even when other dogs aren’t behaving. That was a distraction for sure, but it wasn’t an excuse. If I’m really honest, it bothered me for several reasons that have a lot more to do with me than they do with her. There were other bloggers there, and I didn’t want to be the person with the dog who wouldn’t behave in front of my peers.
I also realized that I hold Bunny to a higher standard than I would have if it were Flattery. When Bunny blew me off it was a surprise and it felt a bit like a betrayal. It’s so rare that it happens, and of course it had to happen then and there. Truthfully, I have to admit that I asked too much of her at that time. It had been a long morning for her and she was tired. She was telling me that she was tired, but I didn’t want to hear that.
When we finally left the session, we were both out of sorts. I took her back to the room where we met Mr. Taleteller and the black dog contingent. We left all three of them to relax up there while we went down to lunch and I had time to put it in perspective. There were other dogs at lunch who were behaving much worse than any of ours had. I was on a trip with my dogs along, which is something I’ve dreamed about doing, and if I chose to look at the good parts of it, we were going to have a lot more fun.
The next morning, I found myself taking Bunny and Flattery both to a session with me. I decided I needed to be better prepared and to set my parameters for expected behavior differently. If Bunny didn’t lie down the whole time, that was okay, as long as she stood quietly beside me. I took some dental treats for them to chew on quietly, as well. Flattery will pretty much stay down until you look like you’re really going to leave, so I wasn’t too worried about her. When Bunny got up, I let her move around as long as she was close to me and avoided the power struggle of insisting she stay down. As it turned out, she wasn’t too interested I standing up for too long anyway. Most of the time she was relaxing on the floor and it was her idea.
It was a good reminder for me that even the best dogs have off days, as well as their people. None of us are our beat when we’re tired and things can go off the rails any time. How we react to those things can make all the difference. Bunny and I didn’t just have a meeting of the minds, we also came to an understanding. Please remember on those tough days that we all go though our own battles and rough spots with our canine companions and not a single one of us is perfect.