Did I Say That: Pacifying the dog

When we take the dog to our daughter’s house to babysit our grandson Gabriel, the first thing she does is sweep the apartment for pacifiers. She scurries from bedroom to bathroom and from living room to kitchen, sniffing in corners, behind toys, under couches and beneath cribs until she finds a pacifier that’s been lost or misplaced or hidden … by her. She’s suffering from a serious obsession.

Her canine brain has led her to believe they belong to HER, perhaps because they resemble dog toys, perhaps because they’re so chewable or perhaps because I never gave her a pacifier when she was a pup and she’s jealous.

This has led to considerable debate in our family. My son-in-law gets distraught when the dog has a pacifier in her mouth, and he can’t understand why she doesn’t respect the baby’s right of ownership. He thinks the dog needs discipline, counseling from Cesar Millan and a refresher course at obedience school. He accuses us of failing to teach our dog to behave civilly in a democratic society and respect the rights of others, particularly babies. It doesn’t bother him, though, when the baby takes my dog’s toys. Talk about a double standard.

To resolve this crisis, I recently went to four different pet stores until I found a squeaky pacifier toy as a substitute, but it just wasn’t the same. She snubbed it. My grandson, however was quite happy to play with it, at which point Bella took it from him and put it in her toy box, thereby asserting ownership. There’s no sharing in our household.

When my grandson loses a pacifier, which happens every 47 minutes, they blame Bella because she’s always pawing through diaper bags and blankets in search of a Binky. (I have to admit it’s troubling to see her walk out of the baby’s room with a pacifier in her mouth.) When I take it away and put it on the counter, she’ll stare at it and bark constantly until I give her something else to take her mind off of her obsession.

To my thinking, the dog should be rewarded for finding pacifiers. I can tell you from personal experience there’s nothing more emotionally wrenching for baby and parent alike than losing a pacifier. I still recall spending hours searching for my daughters’ missing Binkies when we needed them to stop crying while we were at church, in a restaurant or going to bed. In desperation, my wife would scream, “Where the #!*&*! is the pacifier!”

As the designated provider, protector and pacifier procurer, I’d rush outside into the frigid night with a flashlight to look under car seats, on the driveway and in the shrubbery. Fifteen minutes later, I’d go back inside, unsuccessful in my mission, hands and feet frozen, only to discover my wife had found the Binky between the sofa pillows and given it to the baby, who was fast asleep. Of course, nobody bothered to inform the old man.

We went through so many pacifiers I almost had to get a part-time job to cover the replacement cost. If Bella had been around back then, she would have saved me a lot of time and money that I could have put toward early retirement.

I was recently reminded of those times when I read a headline that said, “Oklahoma veterinarian removes pacifier from dog’s belly.” Lordy!

As the Associated Press reported it, so it can’t be fake news: “An Oklahoma mother and father couldn’t figure out what was happening to their child’s pacifiers until the baby’s grandmother saw the family dog swipe one off of the counter. One nauseous pooch and a trip to their veterinarian’s office confirmed the couple’s hunch: Dovey had pacifiers lodged in her stomach.”

The vet originally thought the dog had eaten about seven pacifiers … until he performed surgery and discovered 21. How does the family pooch steal, and consume 21 pacifiers without being detected?

The good news is Dovey recovered and returned home. The vet had this warning for pet-owners: “Dogs will eat anything, anytime at any age.” For that matter, so will babies.

Sooner or later, Gabriel is going to find Bella’s box of Milk-Bone Dog Biscuits and start hiding them in his crib for an afternoon snack when he goes down for a nap … especially if the dog has his Binky.

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