The Rockwood Files: Sit, stay

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Our two dogs are blissfully unaware of how horrible the news is these days. I’m glad they don’t know. We need them to be happy right now because they are co-captains of our “Quarantine Cheer Up Crew.”

Human reactions to staying have ranged from mild inconvenience to depression. But dogs see things differently. Charlie the Beagle and Cooper the Corgi think their current circumstances are ideal.

When they need to go to the backyard for a potty break? There’s always someone here to take them. Need a game of fetch with a slobbery tennis ball? There are at least 5 humans with decent throwing arms. Want a belly rub? Just roll right over and take your pick of people willing to oblige.

Dogs may be the biggest beneficiaries of the federal guidelines to stay home, but those of us lucky enough to live with one or more of them sure are grateful for their company during these dark days. No matter what the headlines say, Charlie’s tail still whips back and forth when I walk into the room. And when I sit cross-legged on the floor, Cooper crawls into my lap and stretches up to plant a smooch on my cheek. It’s like getting a much-needed dose of doggie anti-depressants.

As with all roommates who spend an inordinate amount of time together, there are a few not-so-pleasant quirks we must tolerate. Sometimes Charlie the Beagle accidentally sits on the TV remote control and turns it off when we’re in the middle of a movie. He also tries to hog the fuzzy blanket I like to cover up with while channel surfing.

This is Charlie the Beagle, mid-snooze with his favorite blanket.

I share the blanket with him so he can burrow underneath to curl up beside me. But as he dozes through the Netflix shows we’re watching, he slowly starts to unfurl his body until his long, thin legs are pushing into my ribs. Sure, he’s technically asleep but I think it’s an unconscious attempt to push me off the sofa so he can have the whole thing to himself. When I dislodge the paw pushing into my side, he grunts as I scoot him over a few inches. Then he retaliates by releasing silent but toxic fumes that seep out from under our shared blanket. It’s a classic case of passive-aggressive gas-passing.

While the Beagle sleeps, Cooper the Corgi cruises for snacks. He’s thrilled to see that humans are home snacking now more than ever. He patrols the living room hoping we’ll drop a chip or two. He gets especially excited when popcorn comes out of the microwave. Despite his stubby little legs, he can get airborne to catch a tossed kernel. And his ears, which look like furry satellite dishes, are constantly listening for any mention of the word “cheese.” I’m convinced Cooper could learn to do our taxes if we’d reward him with cheddar.

Cooper the Corgi is staying on top of things lately.

Thanks to these countless hours together, we’ve also discovered something new about Cooper. Quite by accident, we realized our Corgi hates numbers. I started counting out loud one day and, by the time I got to the number four, Cooper had launched into a full-blown barking fit. We tested our theory a few times to make sure it’s the numbers that make him nutty. He barked every time. Does anyone else’s dog do this? Email me if you’ve discovered that your dog is neurotic, too.

Despite his hatred of numbers, Cooper is still a champ when it comes to herding and adherence to a daily routine. Now that we’re home each day, he’s constantly tailing us around the house to keep tabs on who’s going where so he can shepherd us back to a common space.

But if we stay up too late, he obeys his internal clock and trots upstairs to his crate around 10:30 at night. When we finally go to bed, he glances up when we enter the room as if to say, “It’s about time you got here. Now go to sleep. I’ll wake you up in the morning. By the way, I’d like cheese and popcorn for breakfast.”

To our fellow families and their four-legged friends, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay at home. You know your dog loves it.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at rockwoodfiles@cox.netHer book is available on Amazon.