My mother and her mother both became grandmothers at age forty-eight. My father’s mother was even younger when her first grandchild was born. Here I am, closing in on sixty, and I don’t see any prospects for grandchildren any time soon.
But I do have a granddog.
A year ago, my daughter adopted Langley, a rescue dog from Houston. In the Hupp family tradition, Langley is named after the first aircraft carrier. Our last two dogs were named Saratoga and Lexington (aka Sara and Lexi), after other aircraft carriers.
This fall, my Seattle-based daughter has had to travel a lot on business. She decided the best place for Langley during her travels was with my husband and me in Kansas City.
So in early November, my daughter flew Langley to Kansas City. We will keep her through Christmas. The timing is unfortunate, as my husband has returned to his law practice temporarily to fill in for an attorney on maternity leave. That leaves me as primary dogsitter.
Langley is a lovely dog. Although she is a mutt, she is a beautiful female with a sweet personality. Except when she’s feeling feisty. Which she often does. Particularly at dog parks, when other dogs want her ball. She is also exuberant, needing at least an hour of exercise each day.
When she first got Langley, my daughter thought she was pretty stupid. The dog growled at her reflection in mirrors and windows. She could be bribed into doing anything for a dab of peanut butter.
But when she went to obedience school, the trainer said, “Oh, Langley is so smart! As soon as she realized there are consequences to her behavior, she shaped right up.”
Consequences. What a concept. Worked wonders with my kids, and it seemed to work on the dog also. Her behavior is much improved over a year ago.
We have a fenced backyard, much bigger than what Langley has at home. She immediately loved it—ran back and forth, bounding like a rabbit or deer all the way across our lot. She threw her ball off the deck and chased it until she wore herself out. She hunted the rabbits and squirrels that found refuge in our yard in the pre-Langley era.
Sara and Lexi had also loved the backyard, but they were not often left alone in it. They dug holes. They fought with the neighbor dog over the top of the fence. But they never escaped.
Unfortunately, Langley, though smaller than Sara and Lexi, quickly learned to jump the fence. Well, not so much jump as climb it. No one saw her first escape, but my son observed her second.
We have a four foot fence, with crosspieces top and bottom to hold the vertical slats. She put her front paws on the top board, scrabbled her back paws onto the bottom board, and with a mighty heave of haunch muscles clambered up and over. Looked kind of like Spiderman, my son said.
The yard behind us is not fenced, so after her leap Langley was free. Free to run. Free to nose other dogs through their fences. Free to chase those pesky squirrels until they scampered up a tree.
Freedom has consequences. The consequence of Langley’s freedom is that she now must be on a leash anytime she is in the backyard. We forgave the first escape, thinking that perhaps it was a fluke. But we could not ignore two.
None of us is happy about the backyard leash. Not Langley, who cannot understand why we changed the rules after the first week of her visit. And not the humans who have to go out with her no matter the time or weather—in the dark and the cold and the rain.
Langley would like to run freely. She’d like her privacy as she does her business. But she eyes the fence as if she would most like to make another break for it. She has proven herself an untrustworthy dog, at least in the matter of fences.
If only she understood the reason behind the consequence. But my explanations have not helped her. I’ve upped our dog park schedule to allow her some freedom to run, but she’d like more.
I think this will be Langley’s only trip to Kansas City. For both our sakes.
What stupid (or smart) pet tricks does your pet do?