Monday, May 02, 2005

Son Spot

There's a rather large contingent of people out there who would have you believe that having a dog is just like having a child. I've had both, and believe me, it's not even close. However, I'm not the brightest guy in the world - and I've never been one to trust my own instincts - so I decided to put their theory to the test.

In the interest of scientific inquiry, I spent last week treating my dog Spot as if he were my child. I've posted the entries from my journal documenting the events that transpired during the week. Rather than forcing my opinion on you, I'll let you read it and draw your own conclusions.

By way of introduction, I should let you know that Spot is a just over 2 years old, which makes him roughly age 15 in human years. Here's how the week went:

I was trying to bond with Spot, so we spent the entire day strolling around Manhattan and chatting about the world we live in and life in general. Well, that's not quite true. I actually did almost all of the talking. Being a teenager, Spot is often quiet and sullen and rarely responds to my attempts to draw him into conversation. At most, he'll bark one two words at me, but that's the extent of our discourse.

While it can be frustrating, I understand what he's going through. After all, I was a young pup once, and I remember what a difficult time it was. I'm sure he's confused about the fur that's recently started growing in strange places, and the hormones coursing through his body probably explain his wild mood swings. Fortunately, his shiny coat does a great job of hiding his pimples. I just wish I could find some way to connect and let him know that I'm here for him no matter what.

Spot and I had our first argument. For some reason, he was hell bent on walking naked around the apartment and jumping at the door like a lunatic trying to get out. It wasn't that the door was locked - he just refused to turn the knob. Try as I might, I just couldn't understand what he was up to. Was it some sort of cry for attention?

I had to find out what was going on, so I sat him down for a talk. As with our "talk" yesterday, he remained silent, leaving me to prattle on endlessly. After about a half hour of lecturing him about the dangers of getting arrested for public nudity, it was clear that he had no interest in anything I had to say. Even worse, he just looked at me as if I were some sort of babbling idiot.

Finally, he got up and started to walk away. That pushed me over the edge, and I yelled at him and grounded him for the rest of the evening. He seemed unfazed by his punishment, so I made it more severe by escorting him to his room and telling him that he wasn't allowed to come out until the morning. I let him know that there was to be no music, no television, no reading, and no talking on the phone. I just wanted him to sit in his room and think about his actions.

It killed me to do it, but he needs to learn to respect me and understand that I'm just looking out for his best interests.

In retaliation for his punishment, Spot defecated on his bedroom carpet last night. For some reason he's been doing that a lot lately and, frankly, I'm a little worried. That's not all. The other night I caught him drinking from the toilet! To make matters worse, he's developed some weird obsession with sniffing at and attempting to urinate on seemingly every tree or fire hydrant we pass. I hope this is just a phase he's going through but even if that's the case, his behavior is a little frightening. I haven't a clue about how to handle it. If this keeps up, I'm going to need to send him to therapy.

You have no idea how hard it is to find a babysitter these days. I know that he should be in school, but I've been unable to register him because I can't seem to locate his birth certificate.

I called in sick to work on Monday and Tuesday because I was a little concerned about leaving him home alone. Unfortunately, I absolutely had to go to the office today and so I spent last night scrambling to find someone to care for him. I called a few friends, but they all acted as if I were insane to even ask them to baby-sit, some even going so far as to recommend that I leave Spot home alone. Can you believe that? They act like he's some sort of animal or something. It made me sick to see how cavalier people have become about child care.

Anyway, after calling everyone I know, I started to become a little desperate. I considered my dwindling options as I walked to the supermarket to pick up some food for dinner. As luck would have it, a flyer from a woman advertising babysitting services caught my eye as I entered the store. I immediately grabbed my cell phone and called her and was relieved to hear that she was available to watch Spot.

In order to make a good impression, I dressed him in a nice outfit and gelled and combed his hair. When the babysitter arrived, I introduced her to Spot and she gave me the strangest look I've ever seen. I guess it wasn't all that often that she was asked to watch a 15 year old.

Seeing her reaction made me glad that I'd had the foresight to set up a "Nanny Cam." My caution paid off when I logged onto the internet to check in on them and saw that she'd allowed Spot to undress himself. As I watched in horror, she forced him to lay on his back while she rubbed his stomach. Cursing myself for not doing a background check before I hired her, I ran out of work and sped home.

By the time I got there, things had spiraled further out of control. I burst through the door only to find Spot wearing a collar and eating and drinking from bowls she'd put on the floor. I tore my eyes from that spectacle and saw her standing over him, smiling and holding a leash. It was even more horrible than I thought - not only was she a pedophile, but she was a dominatrix as well! When I asked her about the leash, she told me that she was getting ready to clip it to Spot's collar and take him for a walk. Outraged, I threw her out of my apartment and quickly called the police.

The responding officers didn't even appear surprised when I told them what happened and I can only surmise that this must not have been the first time they heard about the things this sicko does. In fact, they looked at me like I was crazy for even attempting to file a report and threatened to arrest me if I wasted their time with what they termed "nonsense."

What is society coming to?

After yesterday's events I took another day off so that Spot and I could spend a quiet day together. I went to Blockbuster and rented some of his favorite classic movies. When I returned home, I set up the movies and made some popcorn for us - which almost turned out to be a disaster.

I'd forgotten that Spot chokes whenever he eats popcorn. Sure enough, as the opening credits for "Benji" rolled, Spot began to cough and gag. With cat-like reflexes, I jumped up, grabbed him by the midsection, and performed the Heimlich maneuver. After a few tense seconds everything turned out okay.

Unnerved by that frightening incident, I threw away the popcorn and I made some nachos for us. Being the great kid he is, Spot was more worried about me than he was himself. He tried to lift my spirits by dipping his face directly into the bowl to eat the nachos . Sure enough, it worked. All the way through "The Shaggy D.A." and "Rin Tin Tin" I couldn't help but to laugh each time I looked over and saw his face covered in cheese.

This afternoon, I walked into Spot's bedroom and found him licking himself. I guess I should have seen this coming. After all, he is at that age. Still, are you ever prepared when it happens?

Embarrassed by what I'd seen, I quickly closed the door and went back into the living room. Eventually, Spot walked out and joined me on the couch. While I'm sure that we both would have been more comfortable pretending the incident had never happened, I felt the need to reassure him. I told him that he had no reason to be embarrassed about what he was doing and that it was just a natural part of growing up. To help avoid a repeat, I promised Spot that beginning immediately, I'll knock and wait for his reply before I enter his bedroom. I also put a lock on the door so that he'd know that I respect his privacy.

Lastly, I decided to bite the bullet and have the "birds and the bees" talk that I'd been putting off for the past year or so. In retrospect, it might have been wise to have done it on the day that he jumped up and started humping my neighbor's leg - but I'd been too embarrassed to raise the issue. Now, I hoped that I wasn't too late.

I sighed, pulled a copy of the Karma Sutra from the bookshelf, and settled in for a long talk with him. After a few hours of explaining intercourse - and reminiscing about some of the positions that I had used - I noticed that Spot had fallen asleep with his head on my lap. I rubbed his head lightly and smiled before I carried him off to bed. My little boy is growing up, but those moments of childlike innocence still touch my heart and make me proud to be his father.

After an eventful week, I wanted to do something special for Spot, so we got dressed up and headed out to dinner and a movie. I hadn't mentioned it before because I didn't think it mattered in this day and age, but apparently the color of Spot's fur is still an issue some people.

We went to restaurant after restaurant and every one of them refused to serve Spot. Not only that, but they wouldn't even allow him to enter! No matter how much I argued, they refused to see how ignorant their stance was. It made me so frustrated and angry that it brought tears to my eyes. Of course, Spot remained his usual stoic self. I could see the disappointment and hurt in his eyes, but he just kept looking up at us like he couldn't understand a word we said.

I admired his courage and self-control he demonstrated by refusing to engage them in debate. Instead, he let his silence and quiet dignity do the talking for him. I guess the old adage is true. No matter how old you get, you can still learn a lot from your kids.