My family has gone mad. I’m minding my own business, resting on the carpet, stretching my four legs and they all just ignore me. Usually, someone would reach down to pet me but not today; today they’re all just tripping over me, constantly ripping open the doors, running in and out and shouting: “Move! Out of the way Maxi!”
Maxi, that’s me. I wonder if one of them could be ill; I am really worried about them. There’s another one bolting through the front door, moving through the hallway and kicking the living room door open; oh, it’s the tall one they call daddy. What’s that? He’s carrying something. A tree? Does he want to make a fire? No, I don’t think so. My family has central heating. That tree must be for me, so I don’t have to go out in the cold. That is so sweet; a tree just for me. I have to try it out right away! I am excitedly jumping up, running over to my new tree. But just as I am lifting my leg, daddy is barking at me: “Don’t! That’s not for you!” How rude! Tail tugged between my legs I crawl under the sofa. I wonder what he’s doing with that thing in the living room. Curiously, I peek out from under the sofa, but watch out! Daddy is coming and ‘wham’ he trips over me again. I yelp out loudly so he pets me to apologize, but no, he just barks at me again: “Move! Get out of the way!” He yanks the bathroom door open. He always wants me to go there, when I am in his way. But I don’t want to. The tiles are too cold, but it’s no use, I have to. ‘Unpleasant guy’ I think, while I obey.
Consigned to my bathroom prison, I am lying down, perking my ears up, to hear what’s happening. I hear rumbling and hammering from the kids rooms and it smells really great now – pheasant! That smell must come from the kitchen. I saw the pheasant earlier. Mommy brought it in; a gigantic bird without any feathers. That’s really not fair. I am not allowed to chase birds; I am strictly forbidden and if I try, they leash me. And those guys? They just get themselves a huge bird and no one leashes them.
Wham! The door slams open. I barely manage to get out of the way. The little one rushes into the bathroom to wash his hands. I wonder if he’s here to play with me. I poke his knee with my nose, but he mumbles: “I don’t have time Maxi. I need to finish up so I can clean the boots.” That’s crazy! I have to figure out what’s going on here. We got a tree in the living room and a huge bird in the kitchen. Cookie scent in the air, everyone’s running around like crazy and whispering to each other and now the little one wants to clean his boots? I am almost 9 months old now, and I have never seen anything like this.
“Where are the candles,” mommy is asking. What do we need candles for? We don’t have a power outage. Well, maybe the blackout is coming. They must be planning for a long one, ‘cause daddy is hauling 4 boxes full of candles into the living room.
Then I hear mommy say: “We’ve got to hurry! The family will be here soon.”
I understand ... it’s a family gathering because of the power outage - pack meeting! Yea! But why is daddy cutting the tree in the living room? I’ve never seen him do something like that before the family comes over. He is probably cutting the tree into smaller pieces so all pack members can get a piece in each paw ... I forgot, they call theirs hands.
Suddenly, he’s looking at his watch; terrified he shouts: “That late already! And the tree is still not up.” I don’t get it. Why does the tree have to be up in the living room at a specific time? But it gets better. Once daddy is done putting it up, they don’t just let it be; now they are also hanging colored balls up. And while they are at that, Sam is asking: “When do we light it up?”
Light it up? That can’t be true! Burning a tree in the living room? That’s arson. Now I am totally confused. Usually they are quite normal, reasonable people but today they got some screws loose. It’s got to be a mental disorder of some sort and it’s probably highly contagious.
Mommy just said to the kids: “Go change and brush the dog”. Oh no, I don’t like the brush; it always pulls my fur.
Hold on a second. I think I get it now. They are changing to go for a walk, and I get to come along; that’s why they want to brush me.
But I thought the family is coming over. Why are we going on a walk than? We probably don’t have enough space for the entire pack, so we have to make room and we’ll probably take the tree with us as a spare, as they cut down all my other trees on the street and they must have decorated it to make me happy; that’s so nice of them. Who cares that they might be arsonists?
But why, when and where do they want to light it up then? I don’t get it. Humans are hard to understand. Nothing they do makes any sense.
I need a break; all that worrying is making me tired. I decided to lie down next to the kitchen door where the scent is strongest; especially the broiling pheasant ... mmmmh, yummy. But there is another scent in the air now; something smells irresistibly tasty. I gaze over to the pantry and the door is open; how considerate!
I silently move over, sneak in and what do I see? An unbelievably, stunning sausage is staring back at me; invitingly I might add. This must be love and I am falling head over heels. I snag it and hide under the sofa; my favorite spot on such occasions. While I am enjoying my delicious treat, I watch daddy hanging more balls on the tree he plans to light up later and mommy is praising him. It doesn’t make any sense, but I don’t care any longer; I am in heaven.
Now that I am done with my sausage, I better go for a walk; it’s good for digestion. Hopefully they have forgotten about the brushing by now.
“Where did you come from?” I hear daddy ask, as he’s watching me crawl out from under the sofa. Silly question, is something wrong with his eyes?
I am walking to the front door, stop, stand and bark. I taught them to let me out when I do that; they’re very trainable. The little one, his name is Peter, opens the door and I am out. It’s already dark and I can see candle light through the windows of many houses on our street; looks like the blackout has begun.
All of a sudden I notice a man coming towards the house. Who the heck is this? He is wearing a red hood covering his head and a red coat. His face is covered with a thick, white beard and he is carrying a huge sack on his back. This looks very suspicious; I better follow him. We can’t have that. I am a guard dog after all. I am running back over to our house to block his way; this means no further or I’ll bite you – let’s hope for him he understands that I mean business. Ok, I’ll warn him. I growl, but he must be hard of hearing - just like the mail man - as he is reaching for the door knob, so I move in. I nib him and bite his leg. Ah, see. Now he understands it, finally. He yelps, let’s go of the door knob and runs down the driveway. I am very proud of myself. I think he learned his lesson and he better not come back. No one gets past me.
Oh, look, the family is here now; I should probably follow them inside; a pack must stick together. Looking around I am thinking the pack is complete but someone must still be missing. I wonder who? But all the kids are taking turns running to the door, looking out and asking: “When is … coming?” Someone is coming, but I have never heard that name, sounds like sand and cause or something, no idea what that means or who that could be.
Mommy is asking: “Where is Maxi’s sausage?” ... So it was my sausage, good to know; it’s in my tummy where it belongs. “I can’t find it” I hear from the Kitchen, “but I bought a second one just in case, so I am going to put that under the tree.” This is awesome; another one! Mommy is really nice to me. I just don’t know why they want to put it under the tree; normally they put the food in my bowl.
All of a sudden I hear a knock at the patio door. I better check it out. Look, who we’ve got here; the suspicious beard man with the sack on the back. Daddy jumps up from his seat to open the door; how careless. Barking loudly I charge the beard man but daddy calls me off. That’s not fair. Finally I get a chance to show them what I can do and then they don’t let me. The family pack even seems to like that guy; they’re all smiles and laughs and mommy says: “Finally!” The strange-ling with the puffy beard responds: ”I was here earlier, but he didn’t let me in” - pointing at me. I bark proudly. Finally they know how reliable I am. But Peter says: ”Maxi, this is ... ” and there it is again, this strange word with sand and cause. Now daddy says: ”Let’s light up the tree”. Terrified I hide under the sofa – they are arsonists after all – unbelievable ... but nothing happens. No bang, no smoke and no one is calling 911. And now they are howling… ah, I remember they call that singing.
Curiously I sneak a peek and what do I see? The tree is indeed burning but it doesn’t look dangerous at all. They are all standing peacefully around the tree with strange sparkles in their eyes. I howl myself to get their attention and mommy says: ”All this commotion must be very confusing for Maxi.”
Yes, it is. It’s about time someone takes notice; a very confusing day, in deed.
If Your Dog Could Talk is a straight-forward guide to understanding your dog.
If you ever wonder what your dog is thinking, this book is for you. Dive inside your dog's mind and read in plain English how your dog sees the world and you—its pack.
Learn what it means to be a dog and how dogs relate to other animals and the people around them.
Understand how dogs learn, how their minds function and the foundation of all dog training and behavior modification.
If Your Dog Could Talk helps you understand your dog like never before!
Ralf Weber is a certified dog trainer (IACP CDT, CDTA) and behaviorist. A professional member of the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) and an AKC evaluator for Canine Good Citizen, Community Canine and Urban Canine certifications.