Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pavlov's dog ain't got nothin' on Teddy

(Teddy's mom will be a guest writer today while Teddy is on vacation.)

I imagine Teddy is a lot like a small child. As long as he has his basic needs met, knows he is loved, and has a routine to his day, he is happy. Bill and I are a lot like the parents of a small child when it comes to Master Teddy, in that we do everything we can to make sure he has his basic needs met, knows he is loved and has a routine.

Lately, Teddy's need for a routine has become a little ridiculous. Teddy is so dependent on his schedule that he starts acting like a complete imbecile if we deviate from his pattern by the slightest bit.

In the morning, we wake about 5:45. I get in the shower, Bill lets Master Teddy out of his crate. Before Bill gets Teddy's breakfast, Teddy has to go outside. Teddy knows this, so as soon as Bill is able to unlatch the crate, Teddy bursts forth from inside and makes a beeline for the back door. He KNOWS that pausing at his food station will do him no good. He must first go outside. Bill will stand and the door and wait. If Bill tries to go get Teddy's breakfast ready while Teddy is outside, he'll wait by the door and not go take care of his business. Teddy isn't going to risk being forgotten or worse, risk his breakfast, by losing sight of Bill to go out on the grass, so Bill has to remain in sight.

Before we leave for school, Teddy has to go outside. In nicer weather, Bill will take him out for a little frizbee. In the rainy muck, I take Teddy out because I can usually convince him to "hurry up" and go a little faster than Bill. (Bill is just too much fun!) When he comes back inside, I'll ask Bill which treat Teddy gets, a cookie or a frozen kong. After my question, Teddy will whisk past us and jump on his big pillow in the living room and wait. He also does this action if we open the freezer door and rustle the plastic bag the kongs are in.

When we get home, there is a similar routine as the morning. We greet Teddy and he runs for the door. First he must take care of business, then he has dinner. We have to walk him off the deck because he is too concerned about missing dinner to let us out of his sight. I feed Teddy dinner. As soon as he has used the facilities, he races to the door. Bursting through the door, he races to his food bowl and takes a few spins of excitement. If I am still outside or on my way over, Teddy will bark impatiently.

Teddy's routine revolves mainly around the distribution of food and biscuits. The funny thing is, I don't know if this regimen is Teddy's, or ours. We like that Teddy has a schedule. Today, on the way home from school, we took several minutes weighing our options because we needed to stop at the store. We could stop at the store on the way home, I could drop Bill off and go back, or we could scrap the whole idea completely and eat saltines and canned refried beans for dinner. The dilemma had nothing to do with us - not with laziness, or another urgency or a even a hatred of the grocery store. Our problem was that we didn't want Teddy to have to wait. He eats at 4pm. Making him wait even 20 minutes stresses the poor little guy (read Bill and Mindy) out.

If Teddy were to eat a half an hour late (and he occasionally does), he would forget as soon as the first kibble dropped into the dish. But we still worry. I'll admit, we worry a little more about the safety of our floors and brand new carpets because although Teddy has had a 9 hour bladder even as early as 4 months old, he occasionally gets stressed out. I doubt his accidents have to do with our occasional tardiness, but that doesn't make it easier to clean up.

Teddy, though human-like in his sweetness, is really an animal when it comes to his snacks. He knows what he has to do to get his half a cookie and if that means rushing to his crate as soon as I say, "Go to bed" then by golly, he will. I think Teddy could easily relearn his routines but I'm not so we could. Without a doubt, Teddy's saliva starts flowing with each step of his routine. But my palms start sweating at the thought of straying from his schedule. So who is really conditioned in our family?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

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