Readers, you already know that I’m an asinine creature when it comes to my dog, but I fear I may have hit a new low. As in, “Dana is a total drip” low.
I blame tinnitus.
Since the onset of the Tinnitus from the Bowels of Hades, I’ve been unable to function unless I have some kind of noise constantly playing in the background. Sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s a podcast, sometimes it’s white noise (I am particularly partial to the ones involving water, although listening to it too much sends me running to the bathroom).
Sometimes it’s the television.
The television is a little problematic because it tends to distract me if I’m writing, so I try to use other forms of background noise when I’m trying to put words down on paper/screen. But any other time of day, the t.v. is fair game, and I actually prefer it when I’m doing super shitty chores like folding laundry or Swiffering floors.
I spend a heck of a lot of time doing shitty chores, so the television is on for a fair chunk of time every day.
This is how the trouble started, because one day, I was attacking the Mt. Kilimanjaro of laundry, and an advertisement came on t.v., with a voice saying sotto vocce: “Is your dog lonely when you are away?” *cue the picture of a puddle-eyed, hangdog looking canine staring at a closed front door.*
It went on to say [something like], “You leave for work or activities, things that keep you busy and occupied, but what about your best friend?” *cue another heart-wrenching picture of a dog faithfully waiting on the stairs, looking sad, tail listlessly wagging.*
“Have you thought about how much your dog misses you when you are away? Are they bored or restless spending the day alone?”
And then, Boom! comes the pitch: “Well, your dog doesn’t have to be lonely when you’re away. Because there’s Dog TV! A special cable channel designed specifically for your best friend and companion. Dog TV has continuous footage of things that are specifically designed to entertain your dog while you are away. For only 5 dollars a month, you can add Dog TV to your cable package. Never worry about your dog being bored when you leave the house…ever again!” *cue the picture of happy, engaged dog watching Dog TV, tail wagging, happy and alert.*
My husband came home from work that night, doled out kisses and hugs and went upstairs to change, completely oblivious to the fact that he was about to be ambushed.
I tried to keep my cool until he’d at least finished dinner, but he only got about 3 bites in before I blurted, “Honey, we have to get Dog TV.”
“Mmmph?” he uttered, trying to chew.
“Yes. Dog TV. Because dogs get really, really lonely when they’re left in the house and I hate to think of Mozzy being sad–waiting by the door, just heartsick–and I saw an ad for this channel called Dog TV and it will entertain him when I’m gone so he won’t feel depressed when I…you know…go somewhere.”
He raised and eyebrow and swallowed. “Babe. You never leave the house.”
“I do so!” I sputtered. “I do!”
“Yes, I do.” I glared. “I go for my walk or to the gym, which is at least an hour that I’m away from home. Sometimes I go to the grocery store.”
Was that a smirk I saw crawling into the corners of his mouth?
“Shut up!” I said. “Every six weeks I have a hair appointment, remember? That’s almost THREE full hours that I’m gone and poor Baby-Boy*** is alone. Plus, there’s afternoon school pickup. That takes almost an hour. Every weekday. So there.”
He sighed heavily. “Dog TV.”
“Yes. We can add it onto our cable package and it’s only five extra bucks a month.”
“Five bucks! Seriously?”
Now it was my turn to smirk. “Five bucks a month. To shut me up and not have to listen to my constant worrying about our little white dog. Worth it?”
He immediately picked up the phone.
For a few blissful weeks, whenever I left the house, I turned on Dog TV, bid Mozzy farewell and went about my business, secure in the fact that he was happily entertained during my absence. I felt quite smug about my ability to attend to his every doggy need.
Then one day, when I came home with an armload of groceries, I decided to leave Dog TV on for a while, so I could unpack my haul and do a few chores in relative peace. As I bustled around, I glanced occasionally at the television, which showed birds soaring and squirrels scampering and bunnies wiggling their cute little noses. There were balls bouncing and other dogs running and even the occasional cat.
Then there was a sequence showing a golden retriever cuddling up with his owner, and getting copious kisses and belly rubs, and going out to the backyard, where he and his owner played frisbee and fetch with a stick. Then they got in the car, and the retriever sat on the passenger side, hanging his happy head out the window, as they drove somewhere out of the house. Together.
I stood there, Swiffer in hand, stunned. Wait a minute, here, Dog TV. What kind of cruel mind fuckery is at hand, here?
WTF, Dog TV! You are supposed to entertain my dog and make him happy while I am gone, and what do you do? You show a bunch of crap footage of dogs having fun with their owners and getting love from their owners and all this time my freakin’ dog is alone! A-LONE.
My first reaction was unadulterated rage. Why would they show that? That seems sadistic, right?
My second reaction was guilt: Oh my God, had Mozzy been watching weeks and weeks of dog/owner/love footage when he was alone? And how did that make him feel? Wouldn’t watching that just make the cut run deeper? Did he see that and feel MORE sad? Did his little doggy brain think, “Oh, look at that dog having so much fun with his person…Hey, wait a minute, where is MY person? How come I’m not playing fetch or riding in the car right now? How come my person left me alone here to watch other dogs get the five-star treatment?”
I fretted about it all afternoon.
Thus, my husband came home that night to a special viewing of: Dana’s Brain: Freakshow Edition.
“What if it’s cruel, honey? What if watching Dog TV is hard or sad for him? Oh God, is it hard and sad? What if he gets doggy depression? Do you think it’s making him depressed? Should I Google it? Depression in dogs? Jesus, I did the wrong thing, didn’t I? I didn’t mean to! It just seemed like a good idea but what if it hurt his feelings…”
My husband walked slowly to the refrigerator, plopped a few ice cubes in a rocks glass and poured a generous amount of whiskey into it. He took a hefty swig, turned and sat down.
“Let me get this straight,” he said slowly. “You are trying to figure out what our dog is thinking.”
“Not just thinking! Feeling, too, because…”
He held up a hand to stop me. “Okay. You are trying to figure out what our dog is thinking and feeling. Because of something he may or may not have seen on t.v.”
“Not just t.v.,” I protested. “Dog TV–it’s like, made for dog’s brains, so he probably really does understand, like on some level…” I stopped when I saw the look on his face. “What?”
Blank, dead shark-eye stare.
“You think I’m crazy, don’t you.”
“You think this is stupid that I’m worried about this.”
“Are you stifling a laugh?”
He burst into hysterics. “Nope.”
Not breaking news, I guess.
I still say that tinnitus is to blame.
As for the fate of Dog TV, I’ll keep you posted.
***^Alas, I do sometimes refer to my little white dog as Baby-Boy. Lock me up now.