I had a dog for a while. Actually, I had a dog for a while 3 times. I’m not a dog person, though I always wanted to be. Before owning a dog, I would play with my friends’ dogs and imagine myself with a flannel shirt and a 1983 Chevy pick-up (that’s what you call a truck when you own flannel shirts and fix stuff and your best friend licks your face) and a dog. It would be some sort of unidentifiable mutt that I rescued (or did he rescue me?) that I easily trained through inexplicable expertise and Milan-like connection. He would jump up into the bed of my pick-up and stand obediently still as I drove 80mph down the freeway. I would love my dog and he would love me.
Naturally, when we decided to get a dog, I made sure to play my fantasy out perfectly. We went to a store and paid a lot of money for a small hypoallergenic dog (Hypoallergenic is a big word I learned that means, “I’m not going to spend money on lint-brushes, so we better spend a boatload of money on a dog that sheds less than me”). You know, hypoallergenic, but still country. Tidy and rough-and-tumble at the same time. And nothing says tidy-rough-and-tumble country more than a malti-poo. The very name evokes the smell of meat and hard work. Not surprisingly, there are countless country songs are about this down-home classic breed. Hits such as:
And let’s not forget the #1 Billboard Country classic:
Once I had my dog, I set to training her in ways that would make Cesar Milan feel like he works at PetSmart (I don’t actually know if that is an insult or a compliment; I’m not a dog person). I read books (so my wife tells me) and watched videos (clips). I bought treats and toys. I spent weeks “gently” coaxing a 5-pound animal to go potty at 2:00am.
From literally minutes of studying and eons of excruciating experience, I learned 2 things: 1. Police are surprisingly responsive to 2:00am noise ordinance calls from concerned neighbors,
and 2. You aren’t allowed to spray your dog in the face with water anymore.
To be clear, I never attempted to spray my dog with water—I was just told that was effective correction. But apparently, such an act is somewhat passé—perhaps even abusive. I lament the fact that I missed this intervention. I imagine there must be some degree of satisfaction in a light spritz of water in your dog’s face. There must have been some feeling of control; your dog does something unwanted and you have something tangible to immediately reinforce the undesirable nature of the action. Feels more definitive than bargaining with my dog to evacuate her bowels.
This definitive nature of unwanted behavior directly tied to an undesirable consequence has me thinking. What if…stay with me…we took this spritz of water idea…I’m going somewhere with this…and used it…hear me out…in our intimate relationships. Let’s say one day my wife comes home from work. She is quickly greeted by an overexcited, but clearly classic-country dog and a house that’s not quite up to snuff in the cleanliness department. In our current relational climate, she would have to walk over to me and be upset and complain that I’m not pulling my weight. I would then respond with some sort of half-hearted apology and commitment to do better—ultimately leading us to the same conversation the next evening. But, if we used my patent-pending Spousal Spritz method, she would simply grab the water bottle from under the sink, approach in a calm and business-like manner and lovingly douse my face with water.
This is clearly in beta-thinking with a few kinks to work out, but imagine the possibilities. You could have various situation-based scents. “Honey, I’m upset that you didn’t do what I asked, but this Chrysanthemum Correction from Dr. Porter can get us back on track.”
Shoot. This could have massive clinical implications. “You should go see my therapist. My husband was getting really angry, but Dr. Porter just gave him a quick eye-shot of Calming Carnation and he was instantly mollified. His hydrating correction really saved our marriage!” And coming soon, Quieting Queen’s Cup!
I can’t see at all how this could backfire.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to let my wife know our retirement’s all taken care of.