The first Saturday after moving to “The Home,” my wife and I wake to find our car has been towed. To reach the impound, we hike an hour north on footpaths tucked between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Along the way, we find a hint of serenity—morning sun, gentle breeze, surf sounds. A couple miles and a hundred bucks later, we find our car.
That first Sunday, we wake to find Randy peeing on the carpet. We’re shocked. Randy’s mortified. “That dog’s been acting weird ever since we packed the first box,” I announce. As we ride the down elevator, I itemize Randy’s annoying behaviors: pacing and panting, clinging and shadowing, hiding in the bathtub.
Stepping outside, we hit a wall of winter wind. My breath turns to crystal and the steam from my ears to icicles. I steer Randy toward the parkway to finish the business he started upstairs. That the mud and abandoned dog turds are frozen solid provides sure footing but little solace. Just as I aim my evil eye somewhere near Randy, I’m visited by the Dog Whisperer.
“You misunderstand Randy’s needs and you think only of your own,” she whispers (what else?) in my ear.
“You from PETA?” I growl.
“Never mind about me. It’s you who needs to know and understand that Randy has lost everything that was his world. He’s seeking comfort from the only familiar and nurturing things that remain, the only objects he loves—you and your wife. Not only do you confuse love with dependence, you lay your own stress on him. Wise up, you mutt.”
Back upstairs, I tell my wife of my visitation. “Honey,” she says, “we’ve been here five days. We’re all acting a little weird. And Randy’s new schtick gets on my nerves, too. But we’re all doing the best we can. You can’t kick a dog for being a dog. And you can’t kick yourself for being human.”
“That’s kind of what the Dog Whisperer told me,” I say. “Except she called me names.”
“None worse than what we’ve called Randy recently.”
“Right you are.”
“OK then,” says my wife, ”we’re all in this together. And we approach these new behaviors as a team, right?”
“Absolutely. You can count on me.”
OK, then. Your first assignment is to get the dog out of the bathtub long enough for me to take a shower.”