‘ARF! ARF! ARF!’ My own shrill voice reverberates through the quiet house, echoing on the marble floor. WHY am I here alone, and WHAT are these brown blocks doing in my path?! It tastes like cardboard as I try to chew through them to get out. This is NOT a tasty treat, and I am NOT pleased. Where’s the girl?! I’ve been by myself down here for the entire night, and although I was okay with it last night because I was so tired from the excitement of the day, it’s now morning, I’m wide awake, and I need to pee! Not to mention my rumbling tummy. These blocks in my way are not good, and I’m grumpy…’ARF! ARF! ARF!’”
“‘Sunny! Stop!’ I hear her! I immediately stop barking as I hear her footsteps coming down the stairs, and she does not sound happy. ‘It’s 6 am!’ she yells, brows furrowed, voice hostile. Those words mean nothing to me. ‘ARF!’” My tail wags because it’s fun when she’s around. Maybe she can get me out of this strange cage so we can start playing–or eating. I’m starving!”
“‘Sunny, you have to stop,’ she says in a firmer, more controlled voice. I just continue staring at her, mentally trying to convey to her and will her to let me out of this prison. The staring match goes on for a couple minutes in complete silence. Am I supposed to say something, or…”
“‘Okay, good girl.’ Hey, I recognize those sounds! Except when she uttered them yesterday, they were in a different tone, more high-pitched, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing. My tail starts to wag, especially when she climbs over the blocks to get to where I am. I guess that’s the perk of only having two legs–they’re longer, so you can get over blocks more easily! She pets me, and I squirm as I try to rub myself all on her, tongue lolling out. It’s been so long since I’ve had company! Best morning ever. She opens a portal into what seems like a dark abyss. I almost bark in fear, but when I use my nose, I catch whiffs of familiar smells of freshness…like a cotton breeze. I remember this place! We went through here yesterday to go from the house to outside in the back, and we passed two giant white cubes that made loud whirring sounds while dispensing that fresh smell. We must be going outside!”
“I run out ahead of her but only into yet another obstacle. It looks like the portal we went through earlier–and I know it’s a portal and not just a wall because there’s the round protrudence around the middle of the it where the girl will use one of her useless legs to grab and twist, and voila! The portal is open. I wait semi-patiently for her to open it by bouncing around and jumping on it. Why can’t I open it with my legs? I jump one more time just as she twists the golden knob. Glad I was able to help with the process! I run outside onto the bed of rocks again, and upon smelling my scent from yesterday, I urinate. She watches me and says, ‘good girl,’ so I was happy I waited until getting out here instead of going in the area of confinement they had me in last night.”
“When I finish, I run through the rest of the yard and bark. It’s playtime! Putting my butt in the air and wagging my tail, I try inviting her to my game of chase, but she’s not reciprocating.” “‘Sunny! It’s too early for this! Come on!’ I ignore her and run away again. Maybe this time she’ll play!” “‘Sunny!’ she screeches. ‘Come here now!’ That was one scary sound. No way I’m coming back now! I run to the farthest end of the yard and stay there, wagging my tail, which seems to infuriate her even more. At this, she takes a deep breath and changes her tone to one much friendlier and lighter. This I can work with! She’s back to the girl I like with the higher tone, so I come running full speed at her into the dark abyss.” “‘Good girl, Sunny,’ she says, calmly and tiredly. ‘Grandaddy will come feed you soon when he gets up.’ And at that, she leaves me behind the row of blocks (later, I learn they’re called ‘boxes’) and disappears up into the realm above where I’m not allowed. No! I thought we were going to play! Or eat! I try my mental powers one more time, staring at the last spot I saw her. ‘Ou…’ a mournful whine escapes my mouth. Maybe that’s the key to getting her back. I decide to make it louder. ‘Ah-ooo!’ I pour all my might and power into creating the most somber and soulful sound in hopes that she’ll come back. I’m willing to do this as long as it takes..!
**This story is based on Angie’s experience with her golden retriever, Sunny, of ten years. Based on her memory of events and behaviors, Angie speculates what Sunny may have been thinking and/or felt during the moments written about in the blog to give owners a different perspective on dog ownership and training.
Written by Angie Nguyen, Behavior Support Specialist at Sarah’s Pet Care Revolution