My dog –a German Shepherd—seems to be very clear about my end of the deal. I provide food, water, shelter, payment on enormous vet bills, clean up her feces, grooming, exercising, AC in the summer and forced air heating in the winter. (Granted, I would have to pay for the AC and heat anyway, but she enjoys that advantage and I pay the bills, so I’m counting it.) Oh, and love. I’m supposed to provide that as well.
She fully expects that I uphold my end of the deal.
Where the confusion comes in is her understanding of her end of the deal. Her end of the deal includes staying out of the way while I’m trying to uphold my end of the deal in regards to cleaning the dog run. She doesn’t stay out of the way. She stays right in the middle of the way. She often assumes I’m so into this part of the deal that she’ll hunch over to do her business while looking at me, as if to say, “Wow. If this is what turns your crank, let me set up a tall one for ya here.”
She doesn’t uphold her end of the deal when it comes to going for a walk. A German Shepherd should look regal, stately even, while walking alongside her master who holds the leash lightly and his head high. She doesn’t get this. She goes nutzoid and runs back and forth, straining at the leash, her ears back and whining because I’m not walking fast enough.
And she has to sniff everything we pass by. By everything, I mean everything. Her sniffer is a direct and constant source of embarrassment, particularly when meeting new people on our walks.
There’s really nothing regal or stately about any of it.
She doesn’t uphold her end of the deal when it comes to other exercise. She’s supposed to run and fetch the tennis ball I throw. She has the run part down, but then forgets the fetch part and turns the whole fiasco into a game of keep-away, while I look like an idiot trying to catch her to get the ball back. (Because we all know how much I value a slobber-soaked tennis ball.)
She doesn’t understand that her end of the deal does not include coming up to me as I stretch out on the sofa and panting that heavy warm dog breath in my face. Her end of the deal doesn’t include shedding enough hair that I could conceivably build another dog with it. She doesn’t get that her end of the deal doesn’t involve belching loudly in the front room after eating and then looking at me with that, “What’s your problem?” look.
But then she’ll come to me in my chair, bury her head between my arm and side, sit and sigh. She’ll nudge me a bit until I pet her.
She’s got the reciprocation on the love thing down pretty well. And I guess I’m pretty okay with just that.