My three-year-old puppy has a secret.

My three-year-old puppy Gigi (short for "Virginia," although my husband Dan and I admittedly took some creative license with that one) has a secret that I only recently have discovered.  When Dan and I are away, she gets up onto our master bed, onto the crisp, pristine white comforter, and she makes herself at home.  Dan found out when he quietly entered the house after running a few errands and crept up to our bedroom, only to hear a thump on the carpet by our footboard.  Several days later I saw for myself: Gigi brazenly hopped onto freshly made bed while I was in the shower, staring me down the entire time.

 

I suppose I should back up and give some context.

 

Gigi has the run of our house, but certain areas are off limits, and she knows and respects our boundaries--or so we thought.  She roams as she pleases (although she rarely ventures more than three feet from our hips, unless their is a squirrel, rabbit, or deer that captures her attention), but she stays away from our living room couch, all human beds, table tops, and food that is not given to her.

 

Or so we thought.

 

It sounds silly to talk about a puppy betraying my trust, but I feel not unlike a parent who has only recently discovered that all of her sixteen-year-old daughter's "study dates" were actually drinking sessions in the neighborhood woods.  I was that doggie mama who said, "Oh, Gigi is fine, she never gives us trouble when we leave the house.  She knows the rules."  We were the naive parents, the ones who thought that their precious baby could do no wrong.

 

Okay, it's a little drastic to equate Gigi's misstep with the more serious offenses of adolescence--it of course could be worse--she could have had mud on her paws when she jumped up on the bed! or she could have torn up the comforter entirely!--but I am one of those kooky people who believes that our relationships with our dogs have much in common with the parent-child bonds.  I may have a human child someday and look back at these words and tell my younger, naive self that dogs and children are in fact nothing alike, but until that day comes, I will stand by my comparison.  

 

To see the range of expressions in her eyes as I scolded her and commanded her to get off the bed made my gut churn.  I saw, in an instant, definance flicker to bewilderment flicker to shame.  Gigi knew what she was doing and wanted to seize control, but she successfully executed so many times prior that she never imagined she would get caught.  Much to her surprise, she got called on her misdeed and shrank back into herself, feeling my anger and our incongruence, our fractured relationship.

 

Sure, Gigi has misbehaved many times before, but in ways that a puppy does: instinctually, uncontrollably, immaturely.  This instance proved so significant because it was willful.  Our relationship crossed a new threshold; she is not an innocent, unknowing puppy anymore.  I could not draw upon the same fountain of grace I had all those other times because I was not sure that she deserved my pardon.  For the first time, I felt justified, righteous even, in my 

Emily Rowell Brown