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15 Jun 2008

It's Like Being a Dictator of Your Own Little Country

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I was on the phone with my father the other day and the topic of how Tabor is doing came up. It really made me think back on how many good times, and a few bad here and there, that we have both gone through. We talked about how much energy he had when he was a puppy, and how much of a challenge it was for him me to control that. He is almost 3½ now, and has really come along ways.

No, I haven't taught him how to generate a second revenue stream by pretending to be a horse. Nor, for that matter, how to gain finer motor control with his tail, thus converting it into a more prehensile version in order to do things such as dust the living room. No, instead I've reached another kind of milestone in our his development: He now punishes himself for misbehavior. And I can do little to stop the maniacal laughter that ensues.

The arc of his behavior since I got him has gone something like this:

  1. March 2005 - August 2005: Bites everything. Chews everything he gets scolded for biting (human limbs not excluded). Thinks jumping is the best thing ever. Runs from captors, refuses punishment, frustratingly small enough to evade 100% capture rate
  2. September 2005 - March 2006: The Era of Woof - Dominated primarily by discovery of vocal chords and the power they hold. Nothing is safe from reproach, including air, stationary objects and imaginary things. Still jumping, albeit only on me each morning. Still chewing, but tenderly and on the sly. Backpacks are new favorite toys and daily chase sequences delight all involved except the humans. Now too big to hide under furniture, thank God
  3. March 2006 - present: Woofing lessened, now reserved for complaints and bouts of boredom. Biting of humans almost non-existent. Chasing eliminated from repertoire. Self-punishment achieved

Somehow, someway I figured out how to get him to drop whatever it is that he's stolen (kitchen towels, usually) and by simply saying "Release", he does the walk of shame, with head hung low, and will walk to the other room. I no longer scream like a maniac, threaten to throw him off the overpass or even touch a hair on his head. All it takes is, "Tabor…release. *point* No more, please." BAM. Who knew that controlling the behavior of another living creature would bring such a surge of power! Control! TOTAL DOMINANCE! Being a parent must be such a rush.

Sure, I still have plenty of things to work on, things such as:

  • Lesson 48: Claws were meant to rip open carcasses. Not Dad's leg. Use with caution or they get removed with pliers
  • Lesson 108: Just because your head is at dinner table height does not mean that it's a truck stop for parking your massive dome during a meal. You don't control this house, as you wear no pants nor do you have opposable thumbs
  • Lesson 283: Contrary to popular belief, I do not want to play ball every 30 minutes. Throwing your bowl across the house or ramming your face into the screen door does little to convince me otherwise

All in all, though, we've made considerable progress. And seeing as the list of lessons that he needs to master only goes to around 500, I should be wrapping things up just around the time he looses control over his bowels due to old age,…which means I get to start all over again. How awesome is that?

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