My Dog's Secret Life

My Dog’s Secret Life

By Jeffrey Hauser

I have had a Shih Tzu named Suzi for nearly eleven years. It began as a gift to my daughter and eventually migrated to my house when she moved out at eighteen, college bound, and settled into her own townhouse. I had the large house with a back yard and, therefore, qualified for instant pet adoption status. Not that it was any different than it had been before. She had whined and cajoled for a dog and promised to take care of it. She was eleven at the time and very responsible, according to her own self-evaluation. So we caved in and bought the puppy. And she was really good about taking care of Suzi for the first few minutes or so until Family Ties came on tv that afternoon. I reluctantly took over the feeding and bathing chores. Luckily, we had the foresight to install a doggy door, which substituted for walks. But I still ended up walking her when the weather was good.

I love most animals and Suzi was no exception. We’ve definitely bonded as she is now in the December of her life. But Suzi has a secret that I discovered purely by accident one day and I thought I would share it with you. You too, may be a pet owner and could use the inside scoop on what happens while you’re gone. That’s right, it’s not always as it seems when you leave them alone. Let me elaborate.

As the years have passed, Suzi tends to sleep more and more. She doesn’t play as much and her eyesight is failing. At least, that’s what she wants me to think, the sly fox. I began suspecting the subtle change a few years back. As she began slowing down, I discovered a few other changes in behavior. I began to wonder why she was acting as she was. I started reading pet psychology articles and finally put two and two together. It was conclusive that she was saving up her energy, But for what purpose? To bound over the six-foot high back wall fence and escape to freedom? I doubted that. Or could she be planning a takeover of the neighborhood with the other dogs? I never noticed her communicating with them except for the incessant barking of the mutt next door. No, it had to be something else.

I tried to put it out of my mind as I continued her regular routine, which I’ll describe. She would get up around ten in the morning and I would place a dog biscuit on her favorite rug and some dry lamb kibble in her dish. After quickly dispatching each, she leapt outside to take care of her “business.” Moments later, she would begin a licking procedure that would last about ten minutes. Then it was up on the couch for a nap that lasted until four in the afternoon. It was then she demanded her wet, canned food, and gobbled it up. Another dash outside and she was good until seven-thirty. It was then when she decided it was bedtime and needed an escort to our back bedroom. There she would sleep on the rug by my side until I was ready to sleep. She would then stretch, yawn and claw on my side announcing I should place her at the foot of the bed for the night so we could begin the whole process all over again.

So I started counting her actual waking hours and recognized an interesting fact: she slept a lot. It was that energy-saving facet of her behavior that was driving me crazy. Why did she require all that rest? There had to be an ulterior motive and I would uncover it, and, one day, I did. My wife and I had been gone for the day and I noticed something amiss when we returned.

Sure, Suzi was pretending to be lying on the couch totally comatose, but there was something she hadn’t planned. I saw that the pillow that was usually on the couch was now on the floor. Imagine that. And that wasn’t all. Her doggy dish had been pushed to one side and her watering bottle was nearly empty. I didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to detect the implications. My dog was having a party while we were gone. And it was happening more than once.

I saw other signs of excitement around. I saw backyard ‘do-do’ that didn’t even look like hers. She probably had dozens of dogs over to party in our absence. I could picture her propping open the side gate and letting in the brood, Then, they all most likely danced around, being dog-gone wild in our living room, and hence, the askew pillow and such, the sneaky pooch. Then, when she figured we would be returning, whisked the other dogs away and bounded back onto the couch. She had become so adept that her breathing was even shallow by the time we arrived. It was a cute trick and I wondered how she did it.

So now I know what happens when we’re gone and I can accept her party ways. I didn’t get upset or even let on that I knew what was transpiring. Instead, I allow her the outlet for her pent-up energy knowing that she means no harm. But it’s a secret that I surmise is also carried on by millions of other pets around the globe. And it’s my civic duty as a bona fide pet-owner to warn everyone else about this behavior. I’m sure you too, have already witnessed similar signs and have questioned your sanity. But, let me assure you, you haven’t lost your mind. You simply have a party- animal in the house. But shush, it’s a secret.

Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master’s Degree from Monmouth University. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix,” available at http://www.amazon.com. His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages.” Currently, he is the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com, a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.

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