Never break a promise to a dog. Well, at least not our dog! Apparently, my dog and I both share the same dislike for people who don’t do what they say.
Case in point: this afternoon, my husband and I were discussing a trip to the drugstore, to pick up a prescription and – okay, let’s be honest about the main reason – scope out the selection of after-Easter candy.
Now, we had already been out once today, to a “no-dogs-allowed” destination, where we spent an hour or two just strolling the paths of a Japanese garden, snapping pictures and feeding the ducks and fish. Jack (our chihuahua) knows our habits and as soon as he saw us preparing to head out, he went into his kennel.
We let him out when we returned home several hours later, and it was shortly after that, when we decided to go run the drugstore and candy errand. By this time I had already changed into my standard “I work at home” gear of a t-shirt and cotton pajama pants and didn’t really want to get dressed again. So I said, “okay. I’ll go if I can wear my jammie pants and we can take Jack, and he and I can wait in the car while you run into the store.”
This is also a routine Jack is familiar with. He and I often wait in the car when we need to run to the store for a few groceries. I have bad knees and so my husband frequently does the “leg-work”.
This time, however, I decided I wanted to accompany my husband into the store. I wanted to check out the half-price Easter candy for myself. My legs were feeling pretty good, so I got dressed and told my husband of the change in plans. He was fine with that, of course.
But then I told Jack.
“We have to run some errands, Jack,” I said. This phrase has always been the cue for Jack to go into his kennel. Quietly. Matter of factly. Without a fuss.
Not this time.
No, this time, Jack had distinctly heard me say “take Jack” and he was not about to forget that! He sat at my feet, staring up at me, and he barked. Loudly.
“Go home, Jack,” I said, the direct command to go to his kennel. “We have to run errands,” I repeated. “Not a dog place,” I explained.
Jack continued to bark. Louder. Angrier.
“I know what I said,” I told him. “But I also said I’d wear my jammie pants. Look! I’m dressed! We have to run an errand.”
No good. Jack kept up the indignant barking, his tone getting more shrill by the moment.
“What’s going on out here?” my husband asked.
“Well, I did say he could go,” I explained.
“You’re bigger than him,” my husband reminded me, laughing. I could see he was going to be no help in this conflict.
“I know,” I sighed. “But I promised. And now I’m breaking my promise. I understand. I hate people who say they’ll do something and then don’t do it. So … I know how he feels. It makes me mad too.“
I looked down at Jack, still barking at me, and made the only choice I could – to stand by my promise. It’s not about giving in. It’s about living Up. Living up to your word. Living up to the standards you expect from others.
It’s about being the kind of person your dog thinks you are.
I clipped the leash on my tiny little zen master and patted his head.
“Let’s go bye-bye, Jack!”