My dog – human savior, therapist and all around dumbass

francis reindeerMy dog is not smart. I’ve said it before and will continue to reiterate it.. he’s not smart. Sure, with all that greyed hair and wise eyes he looks like he might be pondering life’s questions, but I know for a fact he’s just trying to figure out if there’s new cat poop under that bush. Mmmmmm cat poop is tasty.

This is a dog who has walked into lampposts on several occasions and finds a blank wall fascinating. Horse manure can send him into a rapture that renders him deaf and blind until he’s wearing most of it and he’s eaten at least 6 smartwool socks in the last 3 years. But only the heels mind. He’s not dumb.

But I don’t have kids so I treat my dog as many parents treat their kids. Which is to say… overindulgence features heavily. During our 5 years together I’ve fed him insanely expensive food, taken him to 1:1 training in and around the metro area, paid for a year of acupuncture (yes really), and walked, hiked and ran him approximately eleventy billion miles. He snacks on lamb and dehydrated steak. This dog visits a dog day care center with a swimming pool every week. His toughest challenge is jumping out the back of my SUV when we get to the dog park (he gets lifted in, of course).  He’s not exactly living a tough life. Am I helicopter parent? Maaaaybe. But hey, its a two way street.

In return I have a faithful companion, someone who offers me comfort after a bad day, and who lies by my side when I sleep.. protecting me from squirrels, cats and all manner of other imaginary foes. No-one has ever been more excited to see me after a day out of the house.  I’m going to skip over the howling that accompanies the UPS truck that he seamlessly times to coincide with a 1:1 call with the CEO. Overall, he’s a great buddy to have around; you can get quite used to power-washing his vomit from the back of the truck after every car ride.

However, after 5+ years together I’ve decided that while he might not be smart, he can get with the program and start earning his keep. He’s done his time, and he needs to go get a job. He’s never going to move out of my house, but I’m sick of him lying around all day snoring, farting and waiting for the next hourly episode of ‘walks in the Wash Park neighborhood’ or ‘throw this, will you?’ while I’m trying to downward dog or facilitate a conference call. My helicopter parenting days are o.ver.

But like many helicopter parents, I know that my dog can’t find his own job. He needs help. Hey, I might even need to help him through the process. It can’t be worse than today’s parents who show up at job interviews right?

So after perusing the options available to him – professional ring bearer, orthodontia model, gusset checker (yep, he likes to eat pantie gussets and sock heels) – I’ve settled on therapy dog. After all, the people in the hospital don’t need to know that those eyes aren’t saying ‘I love you’ (they’re asking ‘where’s the cat poop?’) and he does have a way with that under-bite that seems to make people smile. Plus that dog loves.. loves.. loves to be loved. I know his limitations and lets just go with his strengths. Sitting and being loved.

After some research and talking to people who are already active in the therapy dog world I discovered that a) they’re not as insane as the dog show people and b) even my dumb dog can do it. Apparently all that’s required is the ability to walk around a hospital and be petted. Jeez.. I want that job. This dude lives for ear scratches, belly rubs and even a nonsensical review of profiles so I think I’m hooking him up with a sweet career. He doesn’t even need to wear an uncomfortable suit or hide his tattoos. And since I got him from the Colorado Prison Canine Program he’s already familiar with that whole institutional smell. God knows, no wheelchair or IV stand can freak him out after 3 months in a prison cell with a full face tattoo’d meth dealer. (She’s lovely and she trained him very well. She gets out in 2017).

Of course working will dip into his aggressive sleep schedule. Today he’s been asleep since 8am and its currently 2:17pm (he woke up to fart around noon and conked out again).. so actually staying awake to “work” might be our biggest challenge.. however I’m sure he can nap while being petted. As long as he doesn’t break out the gas – we don’t want to set a ward on fire. But like any helicopter parent, I guess I’ll have to accompany him to his job – you know, make sure that he’s being treated right, that people are respecting him as much as they should and to bask in the reflected glory of having a cute (but retarded) mutt.

When I heard today that we’d be heading off to orientation next month I excitedly described his new role in life over a belly rub and an episode of Ink Master.

‘Dude.. you’re doing to be bringing comfort and joy to others. You’re going to get’

‘You can so totally do this. I know you can. You’re going to be great’

‘They’re going to luuurrrve you’

He sighed, decidedly unexcited by the prospect… and then breathed into my face.

Dead meat and dog shit breath.

So while there isn’t any dress code for this job and he’s not going to need finesse his resume, that dog is going to get his teeth cleaned this week before he starts “work”. I’m not having him sent home for breath like dead neanderthal man. After all, I want him to help and comfort people, not accelerate their demise.

All I need to do is clean his teeth, give him a bath, make sure he doesn’t vomit in the car on the way there, walk into any immobile objects and doesn’t take a dislike to any men in hats with beards.

He’ll be great. Just you wait.

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