Good Dogs vs. Bad Dogs

April 20, 2010

On Thursday, Lily and Blossom bolted out the front door, as they are apt to do. Several hours later, Blossom had returned, but Lily had not. It was odd for Lily to not make it home, and a little distressing, as she was without her tags since her last bath.

Blossom spent Friday whining for her friend, and then we left for a weekend at the farm Friday afternoon. Then, over the weekend, Lily popped up in my sister's Facebook feed. She gave me a call.

"Is Lily lost?"

"Yeah, why?"

"'Cause I'm a member of Lost and Found Hounds on Facebook, and there's a beagle there who was caught running around Baton Rouge with a Basset Hound sidekick. It says that the Basset Hound 'Was not detained.'"

"Hmm, yeah, that sounds like Lily."

A couple of calls later, and Lily was home. Alone, but home.

And it turns out that without Lily, Blossom is a very good dog. She didn't chase cats all over the farm like a maniac, she didn't jump on me with muddy paws in a desperate fit to hog all of the attention, and she didn't grab human food out of anyone's hand. She also didn't eat Mrs. theskinnyonbenny's underpants, but she didn't really get the opportunity to do that one way or the other.

When we got home Sunday and reunited with Lily, Blossom raised her fur and growled. Everyone wants to be top-dog.

At this point, I'm a fair expert on how to tell a good dog from a bad dog, so I offer the following tips for anyone thinking of getting a dog from your local shelter.

  1. Don't get a puppy. But puppies are cute! Yes, they're cute for 6 or 9 months, then they're a pain in the ass for four more years. And this post is about how to get a good dog. Not how to get a cute dog. Think you're going to be the humans who can keep their puppies from chewing up their family heirlooms? Good luck with that, and don't say I didn't warn you.
  2. Get one that's fixed, or have it fixed as soon as you can. I won't lecture you on your responsibilities as a dog owner. My interest is simply in your dog being good. Look at it this way. You know how irritating your friends are when you hang out, and their only personality trait is horniness? Well, they're the same species that you are. A horny dog is even more annoying. (By the way, what kind of shitty spell checker doesn't have the word "horniness" in its dictionary?)
  3. Find the ones with the sad eyes. When you're walking through the animal shelter, and they're all jumping around and barking and acting like nuts, look for the one who seems sad or a little frightened. Don't worry about having a chicken as a pet or being depressed. Once you get the sad one home, show him his own bed in a quiet place, and give him some attention and a meal or two, you'll have a loyal sidekick for life.
  4. Don't get him a friend. Dogs are pack animals. Their loyalty will always be to the pack over the individual. If you have have one dog, you are his pack, and he'll be loyal and true. Add a second dog to the mix, and you just become one member of the pack. If they want to go chase cats through the neighborhood, you can be outvoted.
  5. Treat him like a dog when you are by yourselves No matter what a genius your new canine friend is, he's not going to distinguish that because he's covered in mud, it's suddenly against the rules to get into your bed. Similarly, if you don't want his tongue all over the dishwasher dishes when people are over, don't let him do it when you're together.
  6. If you don't like being humped, stick to female dogs, and avoid even female beagles. Yes, even female beagles love to wrap their front legs around you and give you the universal dog communication for, "I'm dominating you, bitch." This is true even if the beagle had sad eyes in the shelter. My old friend Daisy wouldn't bite a bug, but she would hump anyone sitting quietly on the floor, including my mother and my friends' babies.