Early Morning Scenes at Home
I stand outside my room door with a small bowl of baby cerelac in my hand. On the other side, I hear nail scratching on the door. Accompanied by whining and occasional barking. I wait. The sounds continue. I wait some more. The smell of cerelac is not appealing to me. I take a deep breath and hope I am able to step inside. I wait a little more. At a moment when I can’t hear any whining or yelping or scratching or movement, I open the door and walk into the room. Frodo is sitting, looking at the door in anticipation. “Good boy” – I animate my voice as much as I can at 5 in the morning. The first positive reinforcement of the day. Check!
This is followed by an elaborate meal time for which I need tonnes and tonnes of patience. With the bowl in my hand, 4 tiny paws jump on me trying to make it to the food, which of course I hold higher. I often wonder, if Frodo actually thinks he can out jump me and get to the food! If he does, I must say he is an extreme optimist. Almost inaudible yelps accompany his jumps. The tip of his tongue hangs out – ready to lick whatever he can manage his mouth on. I am tempted. So tempted to put the bowl down. I restrain myself.
I have watched Cesar Milan for years and now is the time to abide by his principles – for a fulfilled dog, discipline comes before affection.
Hence, I continue. A few seconds down and my smart dog knows. He sits and looks at me expectantly. “Good boy” I go again! Positive reinforcement two. Check!
The meal time is not yet over. Infact it has just started.
The moment the bowl hits the floor, Frodo is back in action. Doing whatever he can to get to the bowl. Ofcourse he is obstructed. There are days when my smart dog knows in one trial that he needs to sit and look at me. But then there are days like today, when he is not smart! When perhaps hunger has captured all of his tiny brain and his nose dominates his actions, when I have to stop him several times before he settles down. And looks at me. He knows eye contact with me is what will get him to the food. His head is held high. And he looks at me. Just to ensure that I know he is not looking at the food, he pushes his head up and further up. And to reaffirm eye contact with me, he shuts his eyes and opens them a couple of times. At this point all I want to do is pick him up and kiss and hug him. Looking at him trying hard to hold his head up, not looking at the food, and re-establishing his eye contact, I just want to become his slave and do all I can to please him. Back to senses. “Good Boy” I go again. And Frodo is allowed to eat. Positive re-enforcement three. Check!
Dad thinks we are cruel. There are days when I wonder if we are doing the right thing. There is no manual on being a dog parent – well there are several books out there with the dos and don’ts but I guess it takes several attempts and trails and keen eye to be able to give your dog a fulfilled life.
Nitish explains it beautifully – if I were to grow up amongst monkeys and they treat me like they treat their babies it won’t be fair to me. So why treat puppies like human babies?
We are making a conscious effort to give Frodo a good dog’s life. I continue to talk to him for hours. The hugs and snuggles are a common phenomenon. But then the order is simple – exercise, discipline and then affection!