I have come to a conclusion: I am not the master of my dog, at least not in his adorable brown eyes. No, to my furry beast, I am a slave, a large, fur-less, biped slave with handily opposable thumbs. When he whines, I walk him. When his water bowl is empty, I fill it. (And the number of times that bowl needs filling, you would think this dog spent his days criss-crossing the Sahara rather than lounging sleepily on the couch, which we cover with a blanket JUST SO he can jump up on it.) When he looks at me, looks at his empty food dish, and looks back at me again – intently – I feed him. Sometimes he throws in a little lick of the dish for emphasis. I am so soft. I melt. I reach for his cookie jar.

He can be fast asleep, but if I so much as touch the lid of that thing, he knows and comes running across the room and assumes the position. Sit, look up at me, a whine and a meaningful shift of the legs to tell me he wants a cookie. Now. Yes, perhaps a trick is the price of the treat, but lets face it, he does not do so much as what I tell him as whatever he thinks will look enough like a trick in order to win the food. And you had best believe, the eyes are on the prize the whole time, not the giver of it.

Of course, being a slave gives me lots of exercise. At least twice, you’ll find me running down the stairs with the dog leading the way whether it’s cold, hot, raining, snowing, or blowing. He’s got me on a schedule for those too. When I come out of my room dressed in the morning, he’s waiting for me. And in the evening too, when I’ve finished my dinner, and I do mean the second, the dog seems to say, “Okay missy, you’re done, it’s Levi time. Let’s go let’s go let’s go!” I do like these twice or thrice daily walks (the husband claims to be made of stronger stuff when it comes to the furry little tyrant so I end up giving in and going more often methinks), but still… sometimes I wish I could go a day without looking at the vacant old asylum next door or the creepy trees along the pathway. And Levi’s a stout, strong dog with no sense of direction and tendency to sniff endlessly at random clumps of grass… he’s not the easiest dog to walk.

So he’s pretty much got me where he wants me, this dog of mine. What am I getting out of our relationship, besides an admiration for the ability to survive solely on looks and charm? Wish I could do that, by the way. In his own way, Levi’s pretty low-maintenance. He doesn’t care about toys so I don’t have to buy him loads of $$$ chew toys and kongs and tennis balls. He doesn’t bark at other dogs like some of the little yappers around here, nor does he mess up the house or destroy things. Last, when all his needs are met, he’s a total couch potato. A big brown snoring lump by your side.

For all that he runs me, he does give me companionship and occasionally entertainment. It’s been almost two years since we got him, and there is satisfaction for me in how much Levi has bonded with us and trusts us. He lets us play fight with him, and occasionally even lets me give him a belly rub. He sometimes even lets me hug him without resisting or giving what Don calls “get away from me kisses.” Lick, distract, squirm, and where’s the cookie, that’s the technique.

I take secret joy in the fact that this bonding has happened pretty much at the exclusion of every other human on earth. My dog is a one-woman dog and that’s fine with me. I’m pretty much of it has to do with the regular food supply. One day when we thought we had lost him, it turned out he had run back around the building and straight for the front door.  He knows where his food dish is. The only other people the dog is not terrified of are the ones who have fed him, like my uncle, a reliable source of wieners.

Objectively, my dog is cute. People always want to pet him, but he sometimes practically jumps out the way. The most he’ll do is very tentatively sniff a hand. I try to tell him that no one is ever going to hurt him, that I’ll protect him. I try to pet him reassuringly as he lays beside me on the rug with his head stuck as far under the coffee table as possible. He sighs, maybe falls asleep down there. I’m a good slave to the wee beastie.