1. Your pet eats better than you do.
I was halfway through filling out a ten-page questionnaire regarding my dog’s breeding, eating habits, medical history, allergies and disposition all aimed at creating the perfect personalized gourmet dogfood blend for him, when I realized it was possible I’d lost my mind. This particular company would take my answers, tabulate them and design his meals, shipping them to me each week for $100 a pop, in a package emblazoned with his name and photograph.
It should be noted that I don’t spend $100 a week on food for MYSELF.
And this doesn’t even include his daily treats, for which I’m considering just investing in the factory. It should also be noted that this realization didn’t stop me from filling out the rest of the form.
And the cost is only the beginning of our mealtime issues. The Mighty Thor Thunderpaw is a pup of very specific rituals, from which he does not like to deviate.
So, for dinner, which always comes after his second walkies of the day but prior to his evening squeaky toy time, he likes for me to open his food and read him the list of ingredients. You see, Thor is mostly a vegetarian. You think I’m kidding, but he’s the only dog I’ve ever seen who dances around excitedly when I’m slicing fresh vegetables. Carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, he loves them all. He realizes that he’s a dog (only because I keep reminding him. It’s more of a begrudging acceptance.) and requires protein, but he prefers to eat kosher or halal meats.
He’s also very concerned about the plight of the orangutans in Indonesia and Malaysia, so he refuses to eat products containing palm oil.
After we’ve ascertained that the ingredients are up to his standards, he likes me to scoop it into his Snoopy bowl and heat it up for just a few seconds. Then I feed him exactly one spoonful by hand. Upon receiving approval, I place the Snoopy dish on the floor with the spoon inside. He then lifts the spoon out delicately by the handle with his mouth and lays it on the floor. I swear the only thing keeping him from using it to feed himself is his lack of an opposable thumb. Only after all of this can he finish his meal.
2. Your pet has more toys than most children.
The Paw of Thunder is also extremely finicky when it comes to toys. He’s a small guy, so they can’t be too big. He also doesn’t like rope toys, flying discs, tennis balls or stuffed toys (except for a brief stint of hormone-induced love with a big fluffy toy named Lambchop. I will spare you the details. Suffice to say, Lambchop was never the same afterward.)
He prefers small, rubbery, squeaky or squishy toys. Animal shapes and bones are his favorite. The crazyloud squeakier, the better, as he will sometimes stand around with one in his mouth just squeaking it for a good half hour or so. He also likes to play tug of war with them, which I’ve explained they aren’t really suited for, but he doesn’t listen. Many of them are small and don’t really have a place for a person to grab onto. If you say “How am I supposed to grab that?” he will, thoughtfully, rearrange the toy in his mouth so the most sticky-out part is available to be grabbed.
Just because he doesn’t like any other toys, doesn’t mean we can throw away any of the test-toys he’s forsaken. No, these all get heaped into one of his several luxurious puppy beds (which he also doesn’t deign to use.) If you try to bag them up to perhaps donate to a less fortunate pup, he falls over and feigns having a heart attack until you replace them.
3. You practice being a statue.
Thor’s favorite place to nap is snuggled safely between my feet with his chin resting on my toes. If it’s cold, or he’s just had a bath, he likes me to tuck him in with his blankie.
His second favorite way to nap is with me holding him. Sort of like a baby, but with his head tipped back until he’s completely upside down. I don’t know either, you’d have to ask him what that’s all about.
His third favorite way to nap is on his back with his paws in the air, but with the bottom half of his body smooshed up into the little space between the bottom of my kitchen cabinets and the floor, with the top half of his body contorted into an L shape. We refer to this as yoga pose number four hundred and sixty three. This also has nothing to do with being a statue, I just wanted to include it to illustrate that my dog isn’t right in the head.
Back to the statue thing. If you have pets, you know where this is leading. He wants to nap. I want to clean, or work, or go pee. Guess who wins? Yeah, not me.
4. You imagine weird scenarios.
I’m willing to admit this one might just be me, because, well, I’m a weirdo. But for instance, trying to fall asleep at night, I’ll start thinking up strange what-if situations. Like, what if Thor and I were alone in the house and I unexpectedly died. And he couldn’t get out and no one came to check on me. How would he survive?
He knows where the food is but he has that cursed non-opposable thumb problem. I know they say dogs are still wolves deep in their hearts, ready to revert at any moment to their vicious primordial state. But let’s be real. He’s twenty pounds of cotton candy fluff who only eats out of a Snoopy bowl after an elaborate coaxing ritual. I’d like to THINK he’d utilize my body as food for his survival, but I’m having a hard time picturing it.
He, however, thinks of himself as a super stealthy ninja of death. He’s told me that if there’s ever a fire or anything and I’m trapped upstairs, I don’t need to worry. He said he would pull out his grappling hook, throw it up at the roof, rappel to my window, use his razor sharp claw to cut a circle out of the glass so he can slip inside. Then he’d find me and throw me over his shoulder and rappel back down to the ground without so much as singeing his fur.
Having deeply involved conversations with your pet is probably another sign, but who’s counting?