In the wake of a chaotic, which-way-is-up month, I realized that poor Bryson must be completely confused with all the changes that have taken place over the past four weeks. First, strangers invaded his house accompanied by a 3-pound chihuahua. To avoid further stress and a potential law suit, we kept the dogs separated for the three days they were in the same house. I think it’s safe to say that Bryson did not understand our intention, and he let us know it loudly. Often.
Then, Bryson had to spend his first Christmas with his grandparents. He didn’t get any presents (don’t judge; we’re starving students) and didn’t even have a stocking at their house.
A few days after he got back to his house, we packed everything up and moved him again, back with the grandparents. Except this time, we came, too, along with his crate and all his toys. Confusing? You bet. Especially for a dog who won’t be invited to any sort of intelligence competitions in the near future.
So, pushover that I am, I started feeling guilty about filling Bryson’s life with all of these incomprehensible changes. For a little mother-puppy bonding time, I decided to take him to PetSmart with me to get him more food. Now, Bryson’s not the easiest dog to handle in public. He has an overwhelming need to meet every single person who happens to be outside of their house at the same time he is, and if there is another dog in his sight, you can just throw in the towel for any hope of things remaining calm. Knowing all this, we took our field trip early in the morning and pulled in the parking lot five minutes before the store opened.
We make it into the store, to the dog food, and up to the register without incident. There are very few people in the store and I shielded him from seeing the two dogs in the back near the grooming section. Of course, Bryson is playing scent police and sniffing every fiber of every item that we pass, but that’s what dogs do. Bryson just does it a lot better than most. While I am checking out, Bryson continues to pull and tug away from me to sniff this one particular spot on the floor that is a convenient six inches farther away than his leash will allow. When the credit card receipt prints out, I have to sign a copy. I try to sign it with the pen in my one free hand, but scent patrol is hot on the trail of that one insatiating smell and refuses to succumb to my yanks on his collar. I cannot keep the receipt stationary to sign it with just one hand, so I put the pen down and try to get Bryson to come sit over by the register, or at least sniff closer so that I can lift the leash-holding hand high enough to keep the receipt in one spot. No luck. Somehow Mr. I can’t tell the difference between a knock on the door and the sound of the remote being put down on the table can sense that I am about to remove him from The Most Awesome Smelling Inch of Floor Ever, and he squirms. And he squirms in such a calculated, athletic, swift way that he ducks right out of his collar.
Next comes the terror. The immediate, gripping feeling of not knowing what in all of earth and heaven this dog is about to do. I stare at him, he stares at me, and all of a sudden, he knows. He’s realized his freedom, and he’s off. No longer is he interested in that mildly entertaining spot on the floor right next to the register, his curiosities have expanded to the first and second aisles of PetSmart. To the dust on the bottom shelves, the storage spaces under the closed registers, every package within reach of his supernose. Everything but his mother’s desperate, beckoning call. I tried my very best to keep my voice calm, not to spring into attack mode and turn this pursuit into a sprint down every aisle of the store. But he knew. He knew that though my voice said, “Come here, Bryson. Come on, Bryson. Get a treat, Bryson” my eyes said “So help me God, Bryson, if I ever get my hands around your neck, you might not ever smell a single butt ever again.” I could see it in his face: he really, really wanted that fictitious treat, but was it worth this new found freedom? he wondered. No! He concluded. And off he scooted around the registers towards the door.
But don’t worry. The employees of PetSmart are thoroughly trained, even-keeled professionals. The cashier that was ringing me up didn’t miss a beat. When Bryson began his storewide investigation, she moved right along to the next customer. By the time Bryson mosied back up that way, the other customer was already halfway to his car. Thanks for the help, guys! It’s obvious that I’ve got this entirely under control. Thankfully, there were no more customers to help, no more packages to stock, and I guess it was too early for her to take her 15 minute break, so she pulled out a treat, said the magic word to my dog (who apparently trusted her promises of treats more than mine) and got Bryson penned in long enough for me to pounce. And squirm as he might, I had him back in his collar and back in the car within minutes. Without looking the cashier or anyone else in the eye in the process.
I’d like to recount the lecture that Bryson received on the drive home in case you ever find yourselves in a similar situation, but I haven’t decided on the maturity rating of this web site and that coversation would push it right over the PG-13 limit.