He is a cute little guy, but he seems a bit entitled. In fact, he doesn’t actually acknowledge the term “dog.” Now we must take responsibility for that.
You see, we first got Tucker when he was just a baby (notice the terminology, we never treated him like a puppy) and we were engaged to be married. So essentially, he was our first child.
For the first three years of our marriage, we treated him as our only child and he willingly accepted this role. He didn’t have a whole lot of interaction with other dogs and when he did, he seemed disinterested and a little insulted.
It was almost as if he were saying, “Why is this ‘animal’ so interested in me?” In fact, it is clear that he simply doesn’t believe he is a dog. A great example of this challenge is that we feed him as most people feed their dogs, with a bowl on the floor. Tucker seems appalled at the idea that he is forced to eat in such a primitive manner.
I believe if he had opposable thumbs, he probably would try to call child protective services ... although they would have a difficult time understanding his barks and growls. However, since he does not have the ability to use a smartphone, he simply takes his food from the bowl to another location before he is willing to eat it, thus avoiding the disgrace of eating from a dog bowl.
At times, this is all utterly annoying. Other times, it is just cute. Like the time we decided to push him off the bed and make him sleep on the floor as most dogs do. He simply looked at us with a confused appearance that said, “Is this a joke? Seriously? You want me to sleep on the floor? What, am I an animal here?” As you might guess, he is sleeping on a bed, once again winning that argument.
Or how about when it is raining and Tucker refuses to put two feet into the wet grass? Instead, keeping two feet on the sidewalk, he leans over the grass while he does his business … if we could only teach him to flush.
I say all of this to make the point that as frustrating as this all might be, Tucker is family. That was never more apparent to us than when he recently went for a stroll. Notice I didn’t say he “ran away.” That would suggest he didn’t want to be in our home. We believe he just went for a 24-hour “walkabout.”
Unfortunately for us, that struck complete terror into every member of our family. In a moment, we had lost one of our own, part of the “home team,” a family member. Collectively, our family probably only slept a few minutes overnight. We scoured the neighborhood, posted signs and called our friends to help in the search and rescue.
It wasn’t until the next day that our friends — Beth, Jesse, Noah and Caleb — found Tucker strolling through a neighbor’s yard, no worse for the wear. In fact, they noted that he seemed to be fairly focused on heading home. His evening of carousing was apparently over.
When they arrived at the house, they were greeted as heroes and Tucker was celebrated. Although, in classic Tucker fashion, he glanced at us with a look that said, “What’s the big deal? So I broke curfew!”
All too often, we find that the old saying, “You don’t know what you have till it's gone,” is all too true. We all take those closest to us for granted and only notice those things that most annoy us. Fortunately for our family, we received the reminder, but we got him back ... although we still give him his food in the dog bowl, whether or not he is willing to eat it there.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful wife, a son, two daughters, Tucker, and five chickens. Please note, the chickens have not yet made “family” status … yet. Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)