Why Can’t I Be A Dog?

Our dog Sadie found us over eight years ago. We didn’t know we needed a dog until she came along and set us straight. She moved with us to Grand Cane, settling into the small town life more easily than I did. She loved the trips to the farm and all the small town gatherings at our house. Then she met Ruger.

Let me back up a bit. John has never had a puppy. As a kid, Billy and Sue brought home several dogs, but they weren’t puppies. John’s parents had compromised his childhood because they’d never given him the experience of raising a puppy. I assured him he hadn’t missed much—just cleaning up messes, drooling, training the animal to relieve himself in the proper place. 

“Honestly, honey, if you’ve raised a child, you’ve done all the things you would have done if you’d raised a puppy.” He wasn’t convinced.

By Christmas last year he’d won the argument and we got a puppy. Not just any puppy, but a silver Labrador Retriever whose father weighed in at seventy-five pounds. I wondered out loud if we’d accidentally purchased a pony.

“Jann, don’t be ridiculous! Even a small pony, like a Shetland, weights over 200 pounds. Why do you always exaggerate?” In all fairness, John could have just asked why I always breathe—the answer was the same.

My husband has been a wonderful puppy owner. He managed Ruger’s early morning whining to go outside—thank goodness that’s over! John works with him to learn all the handy dog commands. Now he’s nine months old (the dog, not John), and he’s pretty well behaved (still the dog, not John).

But how is Sadie getting along with Ruger? Some days good and some days not good, which is normal. Sadie reminds me of myself—we’re both introverts. We like our alone time, and peopling is exhausting. 

The Urban Dictionary defines peopling as “the ability to tolerate people and their stupidity in a public setting. To people is to remain tactful despite a person’s obvious stupidity, and/or, lack of social skills.” Whew! Just reading the definition exhausts me.

Sadie can take Ruger for a good ten minutes, then she’s ready to lie in the closet and have some peace. Honestly, I can think of a handful of people that, after ten minutes, have me ready to sit myself in a closet as well. Come to think of it, I’m probably on that same list for certain people too. As my husband assures me, I can be a handful.

The difference with Sadie is that she can snap at Ruger, or simply turn tail (literally) and head to the closet. Ruger tries to follow, but we block his way. We take our cues from our introverted dog and give her space. Unfortunately, humans can’t do that, especially in the South. This part of the country we have Southern etiquette, which means we have to create an excuse for leaving. We’re not supposed to snap at people, or just turn around and walk out the door. It has to be a good excuse, believable and not too outlandish. Something along the lines of, “We’ve got a big day tomorrow. You know, running errands, chores around the house. Yes, we’ve got to get an early start, so we’d better head home and turn in for the night.” I mean, who’s going to argue with someone wanting to get up early and check off their to-do list? That’s almost UnAmerican.

But if you come to the social gathering with an extrovert, then you won’t get a buy in on leaving early. That’s when you’ve got to have a backup plan. So if you see me at a social gathering and then I disappear, don’t worry. I’ll probably be in the closet, having some alone time. 

Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1985 and lives in Grand Cane, Louisiana. She also writes books, which are for sale at www.jannfranklin.com. You can reach her at jann@jannfranklin.com