April 27th is National Tell a Story Day. I think this is such a great day because it’s so easy to participate and it encourages reading and sharing books and stories.
To celebrate, this is a story about what it’s like to be dognip….
Everyone has heard of catnip.
Catnip is that secret special herb stuffed inside cat toys that makes them go crazy. They smell it, paw at it, stay close to it. Cats can’t resist. There is no real dog equivalent that I’m aware of, until a few weeks ago when I learned that I might actually be that dog equivalent. I might be dognip.
What the heck am I talking about? It all started at the end of Spring Break.
We’d just arrived home from trip. It was Friday evening and we had the whole weekend to enjoy the remainder of our Spring Break. My dog, Cupcake, had spent the previous week on her own vacation. She’d stayed with my parents.
A dog’s life at my parent’s house.
If you are a dog, especially if you are Cupcake, life with my parents is one amazing vacation.
Imagine you wake up in the morning, wrapped in soft blanket or on top of a cozy pillow. You give a lick to the human feet just next to your nose, in this case those feet belong to a man we’ll call Pop Pop. He gets up, rubs his eyes and grabs your leash. You stretch your front legs and then your back legs as he clips the leash on your collar and then you trot out into the dewy morning for a quick walk.
You return home, shake the morning haze off your fur and then return to sleep, curling up next to Pop Pop on the couch. Eventually, after a lazy morning, you stroll upstairs, Pop Pop following along and telling you what a wonderful dog you are. “You’re such a good girl. Yes, you are,” he says to you. You love that. You turn your snout and give him a little lick on his leg to let him know.
He pours and mixes your morning meal. You sniff the bowl and you walk away, knowing if you show disinterest Pop Pop might add something special. It works. Pop Pop frowns and asks you what’s wrong. Then he says, “do you want some whipped cream?” Your ears perk up and you start springing up off your back legs, front paws in the air. He goes to the fridge and retrieves a bottle, shakes it up and seconds later a light layer of sweet foam covers your food. You smash your face into the bowl and gobble it all up, getting cream in your whiskers.
For the rest of the day, you lounge, go for walks, get fawned over, toys are thrown for you to fetch, praise is heaped, treats are tossed out for a mere cute sound or adorable trick. Essentially, here with Mimi and Pop Pop you are the center of the world.
And then she came home.
This is the world Cupcake left when we brought her home Friday evening. After a short car trip she ended up in a much different place, a world of distracted family members still in throes of unpacking, doing laundry and settling back in.
After a few minutes watching her family run around and realizing there would be no more whipped cream surprises in her future, Cupcake gave a little huff, jumped up on her spot by the window and laid down, waiting to be noticed again.
Along comes Luke.
Now, as I said, there was still an entire weekend left of Spring Break and we had friends out of town and we’d agreed to watch their little dog Luke for the weekend. So, mere hours into Cupcake’s return home, we picked up the wee little Luke and brought him to our Saturday morning.
Luke is a tiny fluff ball, even tinier and fluffier than Cupcake. He is the kind of dog kids (and adults) go crazy over. He’s cuddly and sweet, like a little stuffed animal come to life. Essentially, he’s the dog your dog is going to hate. Why? Because if you made him into a kid, he’d be the kid with the big adorable cheeks, the enormous cute eyes that your kids would hate because he’d be the kid that gets all the attention.
Now Cupcake is adorable in her own right. But, she’s a little bit of a cat dog. She does her own thing. She gets on the couch when she wants to get on the couch, not when you ask her to. You want her to do a trick? You better have a treat in your hand. Otherwise, she’s not a sucker and it is not happening. (Read: she’s smart.)
But, apparently, she’s not smart enough not to be jealous. Enter, the cherubic, adorable, little Luke with his big round eyes and curling hair.
It all started fine.
Cupcake and Luke have met before. They’ve gotten along. They annoy each other, play a little and then both settle down. However, we’ve only had Luke before for an afternoon, not an entire weekend.
Still, it all started out fine. Butts were sniffed. There were playful growls, tussles and jumping about.
Then something changed. The air shifted. You could almost feel it coming.
Luke did the unthinkable. He jumped up into Cupcake’s spot on the couch and laid down. Cupcake has two spots downstairs – the window and set of pillows on the couch. Luke had just invaded her couch spot. Cupcake stared at him, confused. She’d look at me as if to say “Hey Mom, can you do something about this? He’s in my spot.”
I shrugged, they’d figure it out.
Then, as if Luke understood Cupcake’s glare, he stood up and stretched and moved off the pillow. Cupcake likely felt a little relief at this point. But, it didn’t last long. Because Luke left the spot so he could come cuddle next to me at the other end of the couch.
It’s very interesting how much dogs are like kids. As a parent, you’re uninteresting, lame, often even embarrassing to your kids, until some other child finds you interesting and starts garnering your attention. Then all of a sudden you’re the best parent ever and your child suddenly wants to be with you all the time.
That’s exactly what happened next.
Suddenly, I’m the cat’s meow
Cupcake turned her glare on me, incredulous that I would dare cuddle with another dog. It didn’t matter that she had no intention of cuddling with me. To try to make me jealous, she jumped up on my husband’s lap and stared at me and Luke.
That marked the moment I became dognip. For the rest of the weekend, neither dog would leave my side.
If stood up to go into the kitchen, both dogs would leap up and follow. If I sat on the couch, both dogs had to sit right next to me. If I tried to retreat to the back porch for some alone time to write, both dogs would whine at the door until they were let out and then resume their spots on either side of me out there. I had a new shadow shaped like two dogs everywhere I went.
After a morning of this I decided I needed to tire them out. Sleeping dogs couldn’t be jealous or clingy. With my daughter’s help, I took them for a walk.
On a normal day, Cupcake would run ahead of me, pulling and then stop abruptly to sniff. But this was no normal day. She stuck close to me. And Luke literally walked between my feet. This made walking very hard and we had to head back early, ruining my plans to tire them out.
After a day of being dognip, I was tired.
Finally, night fell and I was ready for bed. While the dogs slept on the couch, I carefully stood up and sneaked upstairs. As I plodded into the bathroom, I heard the clip of nails on the wood floors. I looked down, toothbrush in my mouth, and saw not one but two furry white dogs, one on each side, staring at me like my every move I made was something that needs to be watched and obsessed over. At this point the cuteness of being dognip was starting to wear off.
I brushed past them and got in bed. Luke rushed over, ahead of Cupcake and hopped up on the bed. Cupcake pushed her nose up, testing it. Luke prowled the edge, meeting her nose with his nose every time she thought about jumping up, asserting his dominance, even though he’s half the size.
Cupcake, twice the size of Luke, shrunk back. There wasn’t much I could do, like with my human daughter, I couldn’t fight my dog daughter’s battles for her. She’d have to learn to assert herself or live with the consequences.
Eventually, Cupcake found the courage to jump on the bed. But, it was too late. Luke was already there, right in the spot she would normally sleep next to my pillow. Cupcake let out a loud huff and settled into a spot at my feet.
I stroked each dog and gave them a scratch behind the ear. Then I turned out the light and got out my kindle because with a dog at my head and one at my feet I knew there would be little sleep that night.
No longer dognip
Things change so quickly in life. One second you’re dognip, the next you’re just a human. When Luke’s family came to pick him up Monday morning, the dog who’d stuck to me all weekend like we were two pieces of Velcro charged them, jumping and leaping into their arms. Cupcake kept her distance, probably wondering if this meant she’d finally get her family back but not willing to hope.
Luke danced around his family on his back legs, they scooped him and he licked them with his little tongue. He never once looked back at me.
As for Cupcake, she gave me a sour look and left the room and returned to her spot on the couch.
Moral of the story
Enjoy being dognip while it last. It may be annoying sometimes, but it’s also nice to be loved by two adorable dogs. And, like only children, only dogs are not great at sharing their spaces.