Would you clone your dog?

When asked who would play us in the movie of Bark and Lunge, it’s easy to cast the roles of me and Rob. Right now, I’m thinking Kristen Bell and Chris Pratt, but I’ve also thrown out Claire Danes and Jennifer Lawrence for me, and Matt Damon and Andrew Garfield for Rob.

The real challenge though, would be casting Isis. Someone suggested we clone her, which actually, is a possibility because we have some of her baby teeth. Think of it … we could shoot the movie throughout her life, just like Boyhood!

It would be a true test of nature versus nurture. I’ve often thought that if we had socialized Isis correctly, if we’d never put a prong collar on her, Isis would not have been a totally different dog. She might have been less fearful or leash-reactive, but she still would have nipped our ankles with her needly puppy teeth, and pulled on the leash, and loved soccer balls and licking ears and lying across my body like a cuddly Isis blanket.

But if we cloned her … if we really could do it all over again, would a dog with Isis’s exact genetic make-up be the same as Isis? Would she be predestined to die young or could we prevent her early death?

I can take the fantasy pretty far. I picture bringing baby Isis into this house, where Leo would be way more accepting of a new puppy than Isis was of him. And she’d have big sister Mia to keep her in line. If Isis had Leo and Mia’s ankles to nibble on, would that make her less likely to nibble ours?

How much would I be willing to pay to create a genetic match? I feel like if I could pay on credit, I’d pay any amount to have four more years with Isis. But that would be selfish. I should spend that money on finding homes for shelter dogs.

Still … I’d do it for science.

Would you?

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For the first time, I’m also joining the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop!

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Thanksgiving pride and joy

Lately, when we bring the dogs to Rob’s parents’ house, they behave very well and wind up calmly lying down: Mia on a throw rug while Leo helps himself to the couch. In the past, Leo’s countersurfing has been a problem, but since he seems to have matured a bit, I was eager to bring them both to Thanksgiving dinner.

Our gathering was small: me and Rob, Rob’s parents, Rob’s uncle and aunt, and a delightful six-year-old girl Leo has known since he was a puppy.

Here he is, getting ready to pull her wheelchair like it’s a sleigh.

And here he is pulling her as Mia cheers on.

I know, normal people post pictures of their meal.

I didn’t realize that Rob’s aunt had never met the dogs. I felt a cold stab of guilt when Leo and I opened the door for her and she recoiled, saying “I’m quite terrified of large dogs.” A year ago, I might have panicked and stuck Leo in the car and made him wait out the rest of the celebration there, but I had faith in my boy, who has no history of snarling at anyone while off leash. I murmured to Rob to make sure Leo didn’t pester her at all, and Auntie clarified that she was terrified of dogs she didn’t know. Rob asked if it would help if she petted Leo, and she said it would.

Leo did a fair bit of polite wandering prior to dinner being served. Nothing inappropriate, but to someone afraid of dogs, I know Leo’s size is intimidating.

During dinner, Mia lay down underneath the table, a little closer to Auntie’s feet than I would have liked, but I’m not sure Auntie even noticed. Leo lay down on a mat behind Auntie at first. Then he did a cursory counter check while the kitchen was unattended. When he returned, he lay down on the other side of the table.

A perk of Rob’s and my never actually eating meals at our kitchen table is that our dogs don’t beg. At all! So kudos to us!

After we finished eating and the older men returned to the football cave, however, Leo stood and wrapped his teeth around the drumstick end of the turkey carcass still sitting on the dining table.

“Ha, ha, anyone want turkey leftovers?” I could afford to joke, because I don’t eat turkey.

No one was overly troubled by this transgression. After all, the turkey was at the exact height of Leo’s nose when he stood. What’s a dog to do?

Then, just as Rob’s mom congratulated herself for getting the rest of the food put away quickly in Leo’s presence, my boy propped his paws on the counter and licked a stick of butter in a dish.

“Just throw it out,” said Rob’s dad. (Leo is a repeat butter-stealing offender. Once he ate the whole stick before we caught him.)

“He only licked the top stick of butter,” I defended.

And Auntie agreed. “It’s true. I saw him.”

After that, I put Leo’s leash on, to keep him away from the counters and to play reindeer games. But then his leash got caught on one of the wheels of the wheelchair, so I detached him and was distracted long enough for him to snatch a wing from the turkey (now on top of the stove) and race around the house with it.

“Just let him have it,” said Rob’s dad. Yeah, that’s how permissive my dogs’ grandparents are.

“The bones are cooked; they could splinter,” I said.

I retrieved the wing bones from his mouth and gave half of his booty to Mia.

When I got home, I laughed at this post about countersurfing on Victoria Stilwell’s Positively blog. That might have been useful to read before dinner. But I already knew, the failure in management was ours. You can’t get mad at a dog for doing what comes naturally. (Honestly, I can’t get mad at Leo for anything. He’s just Leo.)

At the end of the day, I was thankful that Leo waited until after we’d eaten to showcase his naughty side. And I was beyond thrilled when Rob’s mom reported that Auntie was very impressed with how well-behaved our dogs were. Even after witnessing Leo’s antics!

I know I’m a little late to the Monday Mischief party, and Thanksgiving seems like it was ages ago already, but maybe some of you are still catching up too.

Anyone else have a countersurfer attend Thanksgiving?

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NaNoWoofMo

I had so much fun writing a chapter in Red Wheelbarrow Writers’ NaNoWriMo book, I signed up for another: NaNoWriMo for dog bloggers.

Here are the first 10 parts:
1. Rocco
2. Bongo
3. Haley and Zaphod
4. Easy Rider
5. My Rotten Dogs
6. Sophie Doodle
7. Haiku by Ku
8. Oh My Shih Tzu
9. Sparhawk Scotties
10. Critter Alley

Previously in our story, Petey the dog escaped his backyard in search of his missing master, and was picked up by a lady who gave him treats, put a choke collar on him, and took him to a cabin where strange people were eating pizza. Petey snuck out of the cabin and has just encountered a scary beast in the moonlight…

And now… part 11:

I roll to my back and the beast is upon me, grabbing one of my floppy ears in his teeth. Though I’m beagle-sized, I have as much fight as a dire wolf. I grew up on the streets! Growling, I latch onto his throat, and maybe let out just a little pee.

Smelling my white flag, the beast releases my ear and audibly yawns. I release his throat, seizing the opportunity to scramble to my feet. The beast’s legs are more than twice the length of mine, so I don’t even have to crouch to walk under his belly to get a good whiff under his tail. Beast sniffs under mine and we wag at the same time because we recognize each other’s smell-names.

I know Beast from the street!

Human voices are coming through the snowy woods, so I quickly tell Beast that I’m looking for my human. Before he can tell me if he has any leads, Beast says he doesn’t get along so well with two-leggeds, so he wishes me good luck and bolts off into the trees.

“Petey! Petey!” I hear the worried voice of the psychic lady with the magic purse. Maybe she can help me, I think, giving myself a good full-body shake from my tail to the tips of my floppy ears. As I shimmy, I hear the jingle of the chain collar the psychic lady put around my neck. She wants to control me!

Since I don’t think I can trust her, I run off after Beast, following his enormous paw tracks in the snow.

Check in tomorrow for the next installment from Alasandra, the Cats and Dogs.

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