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Life happens: Dogs are from Pluto, Women are from Venus

By Victoria Advocate
July 7, 2011 at 2:07 a.m.


By Aprill Brandon

There comes a time in every relationship where you begin to re-evaluate just what the two of you are getting out of the whole deal. If the good times are still outweighing the bad times. If that spark you once had is still burning.

For me and my baby, that time is now.

To be honest, I never thought it would come to this. We've been through so much together. I had heard of other people who had gone through some of the same problems and ended up splitting up, but I always thought "Oh no, not us." But now, I just don't know if there are enough bacon-flavored treats in the world to fix this.

Naturally, of course, I'm talking about my dog (although you'd be surprised how many problems I've fixed with my husband by offering him bacon-flavored treats).

In the span of just a couple of months, Buffy and I have gone from best friends to a bickering old married couple. And yes, I realize that every relationship goes through its ups and downs and that this is probably just a rough patch for Buffy and me. But still, there is that small nagging voice in my head that wonders if we can still make this work.

It all started to go downhill when I switched from having a regular 9-to-5 job to writing from home. It was great at first. There was time for long walks in the park and cuddling on the couch. But eventually all that quality time together began to wear on us both.

My dog has always been quirky and a bit on the neurotic side (that's what we call an understatement, kids). But now that I'm home most of the time, he has really let his freak flag fly.

And when he's not doing things like licking the couch and cowering in the corner trying to hide from a common house fly, he's bugging me every five minutes. It's gotten so bad that I can now recognize his barks.

Soft double bark: The waterbowl is empty, yo.

Slightly louder triple bark: I'm not completely out of food but I can see the bottom of my dish on one side and felt I should alert you that the contents of said dish are now below 30 percent.

Quiet Rrrrr followed by snort: Yes, I need to poop. Again.

BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!!!: Someone somewhere is doing something outside within a three mile radius that I can hear!

Bark followed by supersonic yip: No one is paying any attention to me so I strew my toys all over the house in that manner in which you so hate. Are you paying attention now? Oh good.

Low growl: Well, now that's just plain sassing me.

It's not all his fault, however. I mean, I get minimal human contact every day. As a result, I find myself treating Buffy more like a person and saying things like:

"I don't care if the cat next door gave you a funny look. We don't bark like that. Ever. Unless I'm being chopped up into little pieces by a serial killer. Or the TV got stuck on the Disney Channel during a 'Hannah Montana' marathon. THEN we bark like that, OK?"

And:

"No, that collar doesn't make you look fat."

And on our daily walk in the park, I actually got into a public argument with him:

"Seriously? Do you really have to pee on everything some other dog peed on? You ran out of urine like two miles ago."

"Bark."

"Hey, I'm just saying. Some other dog is just going to come along and pee exactly where you just did. The whole thing seems kind of fruitless to me."

"Bark Bark!"

"How dare you. And where did you get such a potty-mouth? No more HBO for you, mister."

In an effort to give us both back our sanity and repair our relationship, I even tried to teach him some tricks so at least all this quality time wouldn't be completely moot. I started out simply at first, you know, with "shake" and "go get me a beer."

But then I watched an educational documentary on how smart dogs are, especially border collies. Considering my dog is a mutt who could pass for a border collie if you squint your eyes really, really hard, I decided to go a bit more advanced. So, just like the guy in the film who taught his dog to fetch more than 100 dog toys by their individual name, I named all of Buffy's toys and then taught those names to Buffy by shoving the toy in his face and shouting the name ad nauseum. Surprisingly, he caught on right away.

"Go get Christmas Tiger!"

And lo and behold, he did. Thrilled, I then said, "Go get Hambone!"

And lo and behold, he brought me Christmas Tiger!

"Go get Ugly Chicken!"

And he brought me...Christmas Tiger!

Rocky as our relationship is right now, however, we're both determined to make this work. For better or for worse, we chose each other for a reason. And I have a feeling we will get through this stronger than ever, mainly because we have two very important factors on our side:

1. We love each other deeply.

2. Buffy is pretty much 100 percent dependent on me for food and shelter.

In retrospect, some of Buffy's negative attitude could stem from the fact his manhood got taken away at a fairly young age. And the fact his name is Buffy.

Life Happens is a column by reporter Aprill Brandon. It will appear every two weeks. Contact her at abrandon@vicad.com, or comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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