Hi. My name is Haley. I have not provided the genetic material to produce any live young, unless we’re giving retrovirus offspring the same standing weight under that definition as we do human offspring. I do get sick a lot, so I’m probably more of a parent than a lot of people my age, but for better or worse, I have no babies. I’m okay with that.
But when you haven’t provided the genetic material to produce any live *human* offspring, not many people will listen to your thoughts about what constitutes good and bad parenting. People dislike what you are saying before they even know why you have an opinion. And my opinion is based on 20 years of experience, just in case anyone was wondering.
But, parenting is difficult. When we adopted my Pomeranian Eloise (Ella) and Ted (Teddy) our poodle, my mom made me pay for $150 of her $350 price (they were breeder rescue dogs that weren’t wanted as puppies—idk why but maybe it has something to do with how much they shit on the carpet in comparison to other dogs; don’t quote me on that). My mom and I made a deal over terrible Subway sandwiches (I hate subway) in a tiny as hell town in Missouri somewhat like how I imagine drugs are sold. I said I would front her the money. She said we could get the dog. It was an impulse buy like the stuff of dreams, and the Pomeranian I had selfishly been geeking out about since about six months prior came to live with us, along with the poodle to replace our dead poodle Petey who is literally buried under a limestone rock in our back yard. Despite our shoddily excellent job burying him, Ella and Ted like to try to resurrect Petey every now and again, and his benevolent, terribly un-photogenic spirit protects our yard from squirrels that the two new ones don’t chase.
Anyways, Ella was questionable at best when she was first called mine (thanks Mom). I was hella depressed, and I only decided on a whim to weasel my mom into getting her because she gave less craps about playing with the other puppies than she did rooting around in every nook and cranny in the tiny 6ft x 6ft room they had all scrambled into to piss upon. She was clearly adorable (looked like a skunk, still does), and it was really funny because she kept stepping over the other dogs to try to jump on me. Even though all of those things are delightful, the thing that made me decide to casually guilt my mom into getting her was that as soon as I played with the other puppies, she went back to the rooting and the snorting, and she couldn’t be bothered to come back over to me except when I made a legitimate effort to get to know her.
And so our dog carrier was a little cramped on the four hour ride back home.
My mom drove us home while I messed with them in the back seat. I let them sleep and all that, but Ella did want to sleep, she just kept staring at me and making diva pouting noises from the carrier. Ted looked severely shocked that he wasn’t still in the 6ft x 6ft room, but he liked to cuddle Ella, and they were best friends because they didn’t have a choice.
It took a while for Ted to not freak out and freeze when he got scared in a weird poodle panic, but we’ve adjusted to his weirdness over the years, mostly because it doesn’t stick its tongue up your nose. But not all parents will have children that don’t root and snort, and if you’ve won the dog lottery then your dog will also not do the tongue thing we’ve discussed. But those things don’t make it a bad dog, they make it a weeeeeird Benevolent Diva Pomeranian that looks like a skunk and will watch you sleep and nuzzle you and chase you across the backyard so she can tackle you and do the tongue thing.
So let’s talk about how to be a good parent to a dog that is pretty great: Eloise “Bear Bear” “Ella” “Weis-Bear” (pronunciation) Sadler/Nus.
- First, you need to set some pretty firm guidelines. None of that wishy washy bullcrap about letting her piss on the floor during storms because your lazy and she needs to go outside; none of that giving her extra strips of bacon when she casually feelings like barking for it; none of that “i-don’t-have-time-to-give-you-a-walk-but-i-can-give-you-cheese-popcorn” stuff. She needs to know that you will walk her outside when it storms so she can piss with dignity on the grass like a dog, and if you decide to make that difficult, she will do what is easiest because that is clearly what you want, mmkay?
- You need to listen. She nuzzles you when she wants, and she can’t ask for things like a normal person because normal people don’t bark like a siren when they want attention, they typically say so. Ella typically nuzzles, looks sad, and the rest of her daily routine while she roots in the corners and other places for attention she isn’t getting.
- You need to respect her space. Leave her the hell alone when she’s sleeping, because she won’t do so willingly often. She needs to know that you don’t want her nose in your eyeball that she can sleep, and she listens best when you straight up ignore her kindly when it’s time to sleep. Think Ferber-ing; it’s the same kind of thing.
- Encourage her to do things she isn’t going to want to do. She isn’t going to want to go down the dog ramp Mom built and had shoddily carpeted for her benefit only, so you need to walk to the other freaking side, and wait. If she is thinking about it, either play dead in the grass so she can tackle you like she wants to anyways, or bend over like a tree with your hands hanging so that she will come lay on her back to be petted. She likes tackling and she likes petting, it is really that simple you guys.
- Be direct. Like all Benevolent Diva’s, Ella could use less of your judgment and more of your direct feedback, and she listens to that best when they don’t mingle. If you are ignoring her because you think it does her good, you should probably check yourself and be sure that there is no way she can misinterpret you ignoring her as you needing extra time with her nose in your eyeball, because she will gladly provide you that.
- Don’t pretend that her feelings aren’t important when she barks at you incessantly for 2-3+ days and then you have to drag her in from the freezing drizzle rain because she was in a basketcase state of mind and waiting for you to notice she was sitting outside in the rain for the last two hours. Remember when she asked you to come outside? Well yeah, she’s been there waiting and now she’s so disoriented that you might have to get her dog cold medicine and stop everything you are doing so that she can get the attention she’s been consistently asking for this entire time. This is not to say that it is healthy for her to wait outside for 2-3+ hours. This is to say that as of today, that crap will happen if you don’t take five minutes to let her chase you around your back yard, and then go back to whatever the hell else was important enough to risk her getting seriously ill.
- Think it through. She will tell you what she thinks. You need to respond to what she needs and not what she asks for, because she takes care of you in the same way. Remember all those times when she came and nuzzled you when she heard you crying in your room and you would have cried yourself to sleep alone if she didn’t wedge her nose against the door to come in and give you a look that said everything? Well, same kind of crap. She really needs to know that you appreciate what she does for you, and she likes to be taken care of almost as much as she likes to take care of you, but she would rather sit outside in the rain to tell you, because she is only able to bark and clearly that isn’t working.
- Never brush away her nuzzles when you need them and you are just busy. She will freeze you out for days for that crap. She really doesn’t enjoy you insulting her nuzzles, and she will ignore you if that is what you want, because she loves to nuzzle, and the fact that you nuzzle when you need it but not when she needs it will make her stressed in a way that is often immediately noticeable. When she’s upset, she has a specific set of things she does, so pay attention, these are them:
- She bites the sheets or corners of whatever thing she is sitting on top of. Mom’s bed? Nibble bite. Her own feet (nothing soft but short carpet)? Lick lick bite. Teddy’s conveniently located ears? BITE BITE JEALOUS BITE TED WHY DO THEY LOVE YOU MORE BITE. It’s really very simple.
- She will look upset (like a human0. Dogs can show concern. When she wants to tell you she’s curious, she will cock her head to the side like a creepy doll, stick out the stub of her tongue (without realizing it), and stare at you until you pay attention to her. When she looks upset, she looks like a human throwing a temper tantrum, but with a dog face. She will get really pissed if you don’t treat her like a human, because dogs are more or less humans by most people’s definitions these days anyways. And she expects you to treat her as she treats you, which is like a human.
- She will say nothing and leave and look depressed in ways you have to be seriously focused on detecting to ever recognize. She’s been my offspring for 5 years now, and I still haven’t picked up on most of it. But hey, that’s why she has however many dog years left. I try not to translate that one into “human” years too often in my mind because it’s too hard to think about, but for the sake of not being miserable, can we just acknowledge that human years are waaaaay too long anyways? Thanks. Mkay, moving on.
- If you want to hang out with her, go find her. She will follow you around and sleep under your feet at the kitchen table if she wants to hang out with you. She won’t ask, she will.
- If she and Ted are chasing each other around the living room table and barking inside the house because she likes to chase and he likes to outrun her, a better alternative to forcing them to shut up while you are doing your awful homework is to go outside with them and play with them so they get it more or less out of their systems, then go back to your awful homework in peace and relative silence.
This list is obviously not just limited to Eloise. There are many different applications for this list, and it is for your discretion on how you would like to interpret it, use it, or generally appreciate it. But for my sake, please don’t insult my parenting advice; it is truly important to me. After all, I’ve got 20 years of experience.