I have had a Shih Tzu named Suzi for nearly eleven years. It began as a gift to my
daughter and eventually migrated to my house when she moved out at eighteen,
college bound, and settled into her own townhouse. I had the large house with a
back yard and, therefore, qualified for instant pet adoption status. Not that it was
any different than it had been before. She had whined and cajoled for a dog and
promised to take care of it. She was eleven at the time and very responsible,
according to her own self-evaluation. So we caved in and bought the puppy. And
she was really good about taking care of Suzi for the first few minutes or so until
Family Ties came on tv that afternoon. I reluctantly took over the feeding and
bathing chores. Luckily, we had the foresight to install a doggy door, which
substituted for walks. But I still ended up walking her when the weather was good.
I love most animals and Suzi was no exception. We’ve definitely bonded as she is
now in the December of her life. But Suzi has a secret that I discovered purely by
accident one day and I thought I would share it with you. You too, may be a pet
owner and could use the inside scoop on what happens while you’re gone. That’s
right, it’s not always as it seems when you leave them alone. Let me elaborate.
As the years have passed, Suzi tends to sleep more and more. She doesn’t play
as much and her eyesight is failing. At least, that’s what she wants me to think, the
sly fox. I began suspecting the subtle change a few years back. As she began
slowing down, I discovered a few other changes in behavior. I began to wonder why
she was acting as she was. I started reading pet psychology articles and finally put
two and two together. It was conclusive that she was saving up her energy, But for
what purpose? To bound over the six-foot high back wall fence and escape to
freedom? I doubted that. Or could she be planning a takeover of the neighborhood
with the other dogs? I never noticed her communicating with them except for the
incessant barking of the mutt next door. No, it had to be something else.
I tried to put it out of my mind as I continued her regular routine, which I’ll
describe. She would get up around ten in the morning and I would place a dog
biscuit on her favorite rug and some dry lamb kibble in her dish. After quickly
dispatching each, she leapt outside to take care of her “business.” Moments later,
she would begin a licking procedure that would last about ten minutes. Then it was
up on the couch for a nap that lasted until four in the afternoon. It was then she
demanded her wet, canned food, and gobbled it up. Another dash outside and she
was good until seven-thirty. It was then when she decided it was bedtime and
needed an escort to our back bedroom. There she would sleep on the rug by my
side until I was ready to sleep. She would then stretch, yawn and claw on my side
announcing I should place her at the foot of the bed for the night so we could begin
the whole process all over again.
So I started counting her actual waking hours and recognized an interesting fact:
she slept a lot. It was that energy-saving facet of her behavior that was driving me
crazy. Why did she require all that rest? There had to be an ulterior motive and I
would uncover it, and, one day, I did. My wife and I had been gone for the day and I
noticed something amiss when we returned.
Sure, Suzi was pretending to be lying on the couch totally comatose, but there
was something she hadn’t planned. I saw that the pillow that was usually on the
couch was now on the floor. Imagine that. And that wasn’t all. Her doggy dish had
been pushed to one side and her watering bottle was nearly empty. I didn’t have to
be Sherlock Holmes to detect the implications. My dog was having a party while we
were gone. And it was happening more than once.
I saw other signs of excitement around. I saw backyard ‘do-do’ that didn’t even
look like hers. She probably had dozens of dogs over to party in our absence. I
could picture her propping open the side gate and letting in the brood, Then, they
all most likely danced around, being dog-gone wild in our living room, and hence,
the askew pillow and such, the sneaky pooch. Then, when she figured we would be
returning, whisked the other dogs away and bounded back onto the couch. She had
become so adept that her breathing was even shallow by the time we arrived. It was
a cute trick and I wondered how she did it.
So now I know what happens when we’re gone and I can accept her party ways. I
didn’t get upset or even let on that I knew what was transpiring. Instead, I allow her
the outlet for her pent-up energy knowing that she means no harm. But it’s a secret
that I surmise is also carried on by millions of other pets around the globe. And it’s
my civic duty as a bona fide pet-owner to warn everyone else about this behavior.
I’m sure you too, have already witnessed similar signs and have questioned your
sanity. But, let me assure you, you haven’t lost your mind. You simply have a party-
animal in the house. But shush, it’s a secret.