Biting the Hand that Feeds

I love dogs. They are wonderful pets that seem to hold nothing but love for their owners. Throughout my years, I’ve had dogs, and they’ve all been good and gentle, at least to me. I’ve never been afraid of a dog either. My twin brother Jim was bitten by one when he was a boy, and since then, he’s always been nervous around strange dogs, an act in itself that causes a dog to bite.

I’ve always established a good relationship with the dogs we’ve had. For some reason, that ended with our current pet Snoop, a Jack Russell Terrier. As I’ve said before, Snoop was a birthday present the year before my son Dallas left for college. He was sure I needed someone or something to help me through the adjustment period of not having a “buddy” to hang out with. My objection fell on deaf ears.
Snoop came to us as a pup, and he was a lovable creature. Best of all, the dog was crate-trained already, so we lost little sleep with his whining and crying in a new surrounding. Snoop came to our house at the end of May, and in November of the same year, I had back surgery. That dog was by my side during the entire recovery period. His need for daily exercise helped me to walk as the doctor had instructed. At 2:00 p.m. every day, I sat down in my recliner. Next I placed a pillow on my stomach where the doctors had made an incision. Then I picked Snoop up and gingerly placed him on that pillow. For the next two hours, he and I slept. Snoop woke up when I did, and he stayed beside me as if he were protecting me from all evil.

Somewhere along the line, the circuits in his brain must have shorted. For the past few months, Snoop’s behavior has been hostile. He growls when I pet him, and he rarely ever sits with me. I’ve tried to discipline him in the way the “the dog whisperer” instructs, but all that has happened is that Snoop has become even more skittish and aggressive toward me.

I’m the one who took this canine to obedience classes for two different sessions. We worked on those commands, and Snoop became quite good at obeying those them. Even when he is growling and bearing his teeth, he will sit and lie down on command. I also am the one over the years who’s taken this pup for his walks through the neighborhood. I’m the one who usually feeds him and gets his water. I arise in the middle of the night to let him out to do his business. What do I get for all the trouble? The dog has nipped at me and actually broken the skin a couple of times. More recently, he bit my finger and put a nasty gash on either side of the digit.No, I didn’t kill him, although I wanted to fling him across the room.
Some of the problem is that he has become my wife’s dog. She has had a couple of illnesses, and during that time Snoop has watched over her just as he did me. However, now I think he assumes Amy is his, and he protects her from me. He lies on her lap and rarely snarls at her. I keep telling Amy that she needs to be the one who breaks the dog’s aggressive actions toward me. I don’t think my wife is buying my explanation for the dog’s behavior.

So, what am I to do? The things I’ve seen the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, do haven’t worked. I’ve tried to contact him, but the man is so popular that reaching him is impossible. I can’t find anyone in the area who uses the practices of Millan either. I hope that someone who reads this can come to our rescue. Otherwise, life is going to be a war at my house.

I’m not about to beat the dog for his behavior. I know that will only worsen the situation. I want my old buddy back but don’t know how to make that happen. Neither one of us is getting any younger; Snoop’s life expectancy is shorter than mine. I’ve got to find a way to snap him back to his old self. At the end of May Snoop and I will have even more time together, and I’d like to think that we can get along and guide each other into our older years.

Dance Class

Moms and dads have ways, unintentional though they might be, of torturing their children. Most of those acts involve activities that parents are sure will benefit their little ones in later life. Most often the activities are ones that the adults missed out on when they were youngsters. My mother decided that her sons would be able participate in social events when they became young men, and as a result, my brothers Dal and Jim and I were forced to take dancing lessons as boys.

A woman in the community held a dance class for younger children in the community center on Wednesday nights. The first night that Jim and I attended, we wore our school clothes, jeans and shirts. The instructor met us at the door and informed us that our dress was inappropriate for the occasion. That didn’t bode well for Ball Camp boys wore dress clothes for church and funerals. We were a bit relieved to see at least a couple of friends already seated in the center. Evidently, our mothers had been talking and decided that their young men needed to be more refined; they wanted us to be proficient in at least one activity that didn’t require a ball. Our buddies had received the memo about proper attire, and they ragged us for a while.

The lessons began, and I was sure I’d fall on my face. Taking the right step at the right time was hard enough; doing so while facing a partner was darn near impossible. Girls always pick up dance steps quicker than boys, so they snickered at us boys in our awkwardness.

Boys sent on one side of the room; the girls were on the other side. On cue, males were to cross the room and ask girls to dance. A couple of the girls were favorites, and every one of us went for them. In fact, we left our chairs in a dead run, a sin to the instructor. More than once, I was sent back to my chair to wait until the rest of the boys chose a partner. Then I could take the one little girl who was chosen last. She was worse at dancing than any boy, and she lacked social skills. A three minute dance with her lasted an eternity.

During that dance class, we learned all the great dances: the waltz, fox trot, cha-cha, and bob. Over and over again, we practiced. None of us dared look into the girls’ eyes for fear that we’d stomp their toes. Girls’ hands were covered in sweat as boys held them during the dances. Our arms were around their waists, but we never got too close. If all of us worked hard and performed especially well, our instructor allowed us one song to which we could twist, the craze of that time period.

Maybe the worst part of dance class was the timing. Wednesday evenings were destroyed by these lessons. We had to come home from school and complete any homework for the next day. That meant no time for football or basketball games with the neighborhood guys. Those friends made sure to give us plenty of grief about the evening’s events. Supper was early, and then we had to dress properly; in other words, we would spend three hours completely uncomfortable.

The biggest sacrifice that we made concerned television programming. That year “The Beverly Hillbillies” first aired. The show was entertaining, and the biggest draw was Ellie Mae. During those weeks of dance lessons, we missed her beside the “cement pond” or in her cut-off denim shorts. In those days, VCR’s and DVD’s weren’t available to copy shows for later viewing. It was almost criminal to us kids.

Obviously, we survived the dance lessons. They actually came in handy later in life. I felt comfortable slowing dancing with girls at sock hops. In college, I managed to survive with ease a ball room dancing course. I wasn’t great, but I got an “A” out of the class. I’ve never been too afraid to hit the dance floor with my wife at parties. Still, I’m glad there wasn’t an advanced class offered. I learned enough to get along and not enough to make me want to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.” I also managed to eventually see Ellie Mae on plenty of episodes.