Paw madly in area below

Back when we had two dogs, and one of them was a manic, hypervigilant Australian Cattle dog-Shepherd mix and the other an impressionable lab mix, we saw a lot of action whenever someone approached the house.

First one dog — most of the time, quite naturally, the hypervigilant one — would espy someone (friend or foe, it mattered not which) through the living room window, and promptly get all up in a lather. Which lather would inspire the other one to a frenzy. Which frenzy would in turn thrill the first one into an even bigger tizzy fit. Which tizzy fit would embolden the other one to more dizzying heights of agitation, and so on. This festival would then move to the vicinity of the door, and when the intruder/friend’s footfall drew nearer and nearer, they would commence to shredding the door and the wall next to it. This would intensify if anyone had the audacity to ring the doorbell.

For a time we would try to command the dogs not to do that. Down! Get down! Stop barking! Don’t scratch the door! Things of this nature. None of it worked.

Then it dawned on me that we could have a system that worked with them, rather than against them. I carefully printed out a sign that read: “PAW MADLY IN AREA BELOW,” and affixed it directly next to the door, above the spot they most feverishly pawed. Thereafter I would watch, smugly, as the whole scene would repeat itself, and the dogs would do exactly as I had directed.

Simplicity itself. I was a king in my own home again.


I find myself in nostalgic reveries, these days, wondering how I might be able to re-mount this brilliant tactical maneuver with signs around the house directed at my young charges. Here are just a few captions that recommend themselves:

    • REFUSE TO EAT ANYTHING WHATSOEVER EXCEPT PERHAPS AIR (to be affixed at the lil’ monkey’s dinner table spot)

    • WAIT ‘TIL WE’RE OUT OF THE ROOM, THEN CLIMB UP ON THAT PRECARIOUS OBJECT AND REACH FOR THAT OTHER THING THAT’S PLUGGED IN (could go anywhere, but should be at a height that the lil’ peanut can see easily)

    • APPEAR TO AGREE THAT YOU’LL LEAVE THE HOUSE AT THE TIME I SAY WE NEED TO GO, NOD PLACIDLY AT MY MANY ADVANCE REMINDERS, WATCH THE CLOCK CAREFULLY OUT OF THE CORNER OF YOUR EYE, THEN FREAK OUT AND REFUSE TO LEAVE WHATEVER IT IS YOU’RE DOING AT THE PRECISE MOMENT I APPROACH YOU TO PUT ON YOUR SHOES (this one could go anywhere the lil’ monkey might see it)

    • SQUIRM AND THRASH ABOUT AS IF WE WERE ABOUT TO WRAP YOU IN HEAVY CHAINS AND SUBMURGE YOU IN A HOUDINI-ESQUE TORTURE DEVICE (near the diaper-changing supplies for the lil’ peanut)

I am open to further suggestions, if you’re catching my drift here, and know whereof I whimper speak.

9 Responses to Paw madly in area below

  1. annz February 26, 2008 at #

    DROP FOOD HERE TO EAT LATER

    (on the floor under lil’ Peanut’s high chair)

  2. MaMaMia February 26, 2008 at #

    REQUIRE INVENTORY OF TWO OF EVERY ITEM.

    I must say to you–if you’re kids will be anything like ours, you are in the thick of it right now. (As if you didn’t know that.) I commented a while ago about the flip of a switch. Well, our 3 nearly 4 year old, has switched yet again, and it is pure BLISS! Wow. Now we older 3 in the family are working on the 20 monther, who insists on repeatedly wagging his finger accompanied with “NO!” to the big brother. This morning, during a breakfast banana aria, big brother said, “But MaMa, Cooper’s saying no to my beautiful banana singing!” Let’s hope the little one doesn’t crush his ego to badly with the no’s.

  3. Chumpy February 26, 2008 at #

    WEAR FOOD! and sadly….NEVER SLEEP oh and SHOUT WHEN TALKING WOULD DO

    We don’t have any signs but collect ‘onces’. Pretty self-explanatory really. Obviously different to ‘firsts’ which have been followed by ‘seconds’…..Some onces go on to become firsts in time. For example, ‘once, everyone slept through” will, I’m sure, become a first. Whereas, some onces are just too awful to bear repeating: ‘once everyone woke up in a different bed they went to sleep in’ (vomit was involved).

    A lot of onces are completely outwith parental influence (given examples) but not this one: ‘once I went away for the night to a family party’. Wifey has decided that it must not become a first for a while. We’ve not been collecting very long: 1 is 7 today; onces involving all six of us have been on the go for 13 months.

  4. missbritt February 26, 2008 at #

    Annz was brilliant and one I might adopt myself.

    As well as a sign on the refrigerator that says “IGNORE ALL CONTENTS EXCEPT APPLE JUICE AND CHEESE.”

    And a sign in the bathroom that says “LEAVE SEAT UP. AND WATER ON THE SINK. AND TOWELS ON THE FLOOR. AND TOILET PAPER ON THE COUNTER AS OPPOSED TO ON THE ACTUAL ROLL.”

  5. Vikki February 26, 2008 at #

    I find myself regretting the cute little t-shirt that our eldest wore as a babe that said, “Question Authority”. THAT, he took to heart.

  6. LesbianDad February 26, 2008 at #

    The one I clearly need to make for myself would read, “Questionable Authority.”

  7. Julia February 27, 2008 at #

    MAKE IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE WHICH ADORABLE PICTURE TO POST ONLINE.

  8. Ansett February 27, 2008 at #

    “Use Mama’s head as leverage.” to be posted above family bed for 10 month old who struggles valiantly to avoid sleeping.

    “Drop mouth-wiping cloth here. Repeat as necessary.” to be posted under high-chair.

    “Rub eyes and nose using tiny sticky food-covered fists.” to be posted on high-chair.

    “Attempt tirelessly to aquire remote controls used by parental units. Ignore remote control designated as ‘yours’.” to be posted in the living room. This sign could also be rewritten to apply to cell phones.

    “Pee here upon removal of diaper.” Posted anywhere, but especially at changing table.

    “Poop here.” to be posted next to bathtub. Warm water is so relaxing, isn’t it?

    This is fun. I could go on and on.

  9. ullalauridsen February 27, 2008 at #

    I have the cure for the “get up on wobbly thing…” issue:
    Put little peanut on manly knee with that interesting plugged-in thing within easy reach. Proceed to demonstrate all functions, turn all the dials, push all the buttons etc. at will (his will, his fingers) a LONG time. Repeat daily. Very soon he will be so over it. Really. Try this at home.

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