Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alpha Boy

I went to the vet yesterday to have my itchy dog Red checked out. Keep in mind that I always feel like a scolded schoolgirl when I go to the vet. This time was no different.

I said I thought my dog had an ear infection and maybe some allergies of some sort. After a brief examination, the vet pointed out a long list of medical issues – from an eye infection to a strange skin rash.

I then asked her about a behavioral issue: when it’s time to put Red in the kitchen because we’re leaving, he defiantly jumps on the couch and then growls and snaps at me when I try to pick him up.

The vet had a quick answer which she gave with a pointed finger: You must be clear about who the alpha dog is in your house. The alpha dog is the dog to whom all others are submissive. The Alpha dog rules with an iron fist and exudes confidence. The alpha dog is the one who all others in the pack instinctually realize is in charge. The alpha dog must be you.

Thoroughly scolded, I went to the front desk and paid the $358 bill – sweet mercy - and was given a bagful of various medications. These people don’t seem to understand that it was hard enough for me to give my son antibiotics twice a day for ten days when he had ear infections.

I left with eye drops (three times a day for ten days); under eye cream (twice a day for ten days); ear drops (twice daily for ten days); and some sort of steroids (one tablet twice a day for ten days, one tablet once daily for seven days, once every other day for two weeks). Like that’s all going to happen.

(And, let me digress here: I must say I was a bit disappointed in my vet’s hamster care knowledge. I asked a question about our Rocky, and she said the main thing she knows about hamsters is that I should feed him grass once a week, so he can poop it out and then eat it. She told me, when I clean out his cage I should try to leave a lot of the poop so he can eat it. Right. The whole point in cleaning out the cage is to get rid of the stinky poop -- not to leave the poop so he can re-eat the poop he already pooped.)

Any-who. That night as we prepared to leave for my son’s football practice, with all the confidence I could exude, I said “Red, go to the kitchen!” He pulled his whole jump-on-the-couch-and-snap routine.

Then my son looks at him, says “Red, kitchen!” and the pup hops off the couch and runs straight into the kitchen.

Apparently, the dog instinctually knows that my son is the alpha dog. My son is actually in charge around here. My son is the alpha to whom we must all be submissive. The dog seems to understand the reality that I continue to deny.

Laura Johnson

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