We’ve resorted to torturing the dog

The children are away with their dad, and the first few years here in the south we used their vacation to do Big Projects here in the house. Now that we’ve run out of patience and money (ha!), summer holds no such drudgery over our heads, and while it’s awfully nice to have a little time off, I just plain miss them. Because, yeah, it’s nice to be able to sleep naked or whatever, but not as nice as having everyone home.

And the progression is the same, every time they’re gone for two weeks: The first week is AWESOME! Woooo! Let’s eat dinner on the couch! Let’s go to the movies and see something rated R! Let’s go out with friends! (Uh, except that we didn’t actually do any of that, this time. I was away and then home and sick and then Otto was away. We fail at partying, yo.) At the beginning of the second week I find myself doing things like clothes shopping for the kids. And then by the middle of the second week (now) I’m counting down ’til their weekend return.

Anyway, in just a few more days all will be back to normal. And no one will celebrate more than the dog, who is currently the focus of all our parental inclinations to torment our offspring.

Look, it’s not that we’re TRYING to hassle her. It’s just that it’s pretty funny to watch her cycle through all her tricks in return for a treat, or to hide her tennis ball or Slobber Bunny (named because… yeah) in the couch and watch her dig for it. Besides, she LOVES it!

So yesterday, when I pushed back from my desk a little early, and told Otto I was going to put my suit on and jump in the pool (hey, it was 90-something degrees outside), we did what we always do, which is to bring Licorice out with us and marvel at how no matter how hot it gets (and the concrete gets pretty hot), she just paces around, panting, and refusing to get into the pool.

We know she likes water. She’s enjoyed getting squirted (with a bottle or gentle hose) on hot days. She’s run full tilt into our pond in her never-ending quest to bag a Giant Chicken. (That time, it was a couple of geese, but basically any bird bigger than she is is referred to as a Giant Chicken for simplicity’s sake.) And the last time we went camping, she happily splashed around in the shallows at the lake.

So it’s not like she’s deathly terrified of water, or anything. She’s just deathly terrified of our pool.

Well, Otto and I swam around for a while—commenting to one another that it was hard to believe the water had been frigid a month ago, as it was now sort of like swimming in the bathtub—and Licorice paced, paced, paced, and her tongue flopped out of her mouth from side to side and she panted and whined. So I picked her up to bring her into the pool.

Have you ever seen one of those videos where someone holds a cat over water and they immediately fan out flat like a stingray, all four limbs splayed stiff? First Licorice tried to do that, and she even whimpered a little, even though I was holding her nice and tight and just taking her over to the STAIRS. It’s not like I was tossing her into the deep end, or anything. After a couple of seconds (I was moving verrrrry sloooowwwwwwly) she abandoned this tactic and began madly pinwheeling her legs, instead. Swimming before she hit the water.

All the while, she glared at me sideways. “WHY DO YOU HATE ME?” her expression clearly conveyed.

I sat down on the top step—the water barely deep enough to cover my thighs—and settled her on my lap. She looked around, and realizing that she wasn’t being drowned or anything, stopped whimpering. But she still sat there every inch the martyr, refusing to look at me no matter how I patted her or scratched under her chin. “It’s WATER, Licorice!” I exhorted. “Not lava! Not rabid zombie squirrels! It’s REFRESHING!” She wasn’t buying it.

Because I’m sensitive, I got a firm grip on her and moved down to the second step. She promptly tried to climb up my chest. Even though she was still in water shallow enough that she didn’t even need to swim.

Otto and I passed her back and forth a few times and then set her back on the concrete. She shook off with a flurry of huffing and then parked herself under a lounge chair, all the better to glare at us and fantasize about pooping in our pillowcases, later.

And because that wasn’t enough to gratify our evil, evil hearts, today I cleaned out Licorice’s ears. I should do it once a week, but 1) she hates it and 2) I’m lazy, so I tend to do it whenever I notice that she seems to be scratching. This morning I put her up on the counter and got both ears irrigated and cleaned out, then put her back on the floor, knowing what was coming next.

I think it’s that having her ears cleaned makes them itchy. I mean, that makes sense, right? On the other hand, a small part of me believes that she just carries on like this afterward to make me feel bad. (If so, JOKE’S ON HER, because I just think it’s hilarious.) The following is but a snippet of the twenty-minute-long ear-rubbing frenzy that followed:

Licorice Has An Itch from woulda on Vimeo.

Come home soon, kids. The dog really, really misses you.


  1. Beth R

    I love the little grumps and snorts as she’s rubbing her ears along the floor! She’s telling you!

  2. Leandra

    Love it! The best part is her tail — it’s like you’ve wound it up and that’s what set her off.

    I was going to do a dog post today, too. Oh well, maybe I’ll still do it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flatter, right?

  3. MelissaB

    Love the breakdance back spin at :47, Licorice has skills!

    I’ll video our Bubba and his pool escapades this afternoon for you. He has the same aversion to being in the water unless he is in his boat. I’m telling you, let Licorice put on an imaginary captain’s hat and I bet she’ll love the pool.

  4. carmie

    My big chow/retriever mix loves, loves, loves water, especially if there are other dogs in it. The public pools out here have a “doggie day” before they shut down for winter. I took him one year and he flat-out refused to get in. Just sat there sneezing with mournful, leaky eyes, stubbornly digging in his paws. So I figured it was the pool chemicals, what with the super-sensitive sense of smell that dogs have. I saw other dogs refusing to get in to, but not all!

  5. Tracy

    That’s is funny. My Mr. Murphy does the same thing when I put Advantage on his neck. I don’t understand the big deal, right? I just love Licorice she is the perfect entertainment and oh, boy is she gonna be happy to see those kids.

  6. RuthWells

    Aw, what a little goof. Our dog has a similar relationship with our couch to the one Licorice has with your rug….

  7. Rachel

    “it’s nice to be able to sleep naked or whatever, but not as nice as having everyone home.” Perfect! = )

    Licorice vid makes me miss my cocker spaniel who has been gone almost 4 years. So did the story of your return to Licorice after vaca. Ours hid under my parent’s bed when we left her with them for a week. When they tried to get her out she either yelped as if in pain (not) or growled (and she was NOT a growler normally). I had my dad put the phone by her & I “talked” to her… after our ‘conversation’ she came out from under the bed & ran around in circles like a crazy hiped up puppy… was fine for the rest of the week. When we got home & they met us at the airport she wouldn’t even look at us. I miss that dog.

  8. Megan

    With that tail she was BORN to be a happy dog. And loopy, just a little, and most delightfully, loopy.

  9. Melissa

    That is precisely what happens when I clean my dogs’ ears. Both of them have the same reaction, but my gray dog, Tanner, who is very similar in size and adorable-ness to Licorice, keeps it up much longer. We know that Tanner’s mother was a shih tzu. Due to the feel of his fur and some random white spots close to his chest, I would guess that his father was a Schnauzer.

  10. Ann from St. Peter MN

    My black lab does the same thing – every single day! I think her face itches from nosing around in the grass. I have had to limit her rubbing and rolling to a specific rug, though. Black dog rolling on the same spot of white(ish) carpet eventually leaves a dark mark. At least she stops when told to.

  11. Heather

    “it’s nice to be able to sleep naked or whatever”… have fun with your or whatever ;)

  12. Karen

    Ok, not only am I coveting the dog, I’m coveting the couch!! That Awesome celestial patterned couch!

  13. liz

    That is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.

  14. Brigitte

    I never noticed before how long her tail is!

    I enjoyed the credits for the carpet, especially as when I watched, I was reflecting on some stains OUR carpet still has from antibiotics our cat spit out everywhere. :-p

  15. jesse

    your pup might not like to get in the pool because chlorine is a neuro-toxin. Dogs can smell a thousand times better than we can, so she could probably tell that it’s poisonous and therefor didn’t jump in.

  16. K9 Coach

    Awesome. The video and the story!

    As a professional dog trainer I get all kinds of stories… but what I liked about this one was the fun you are having with your dog. And though Licorice may act like she hates you it’s all in fun. Attention and fun at the same time are the best life for dogs … uh and people too :)

    Great post!

  17. Ingrid

    My dogs love our pond, but they’ve never encountered a pool. My brother, on the other hand, is currently living in Singapore, where there are no ponds, only pools. When he came back to the States for his home leave this past spring he had to kennel his dog, Goober. However, the kennel was not without its amenities. It had a doggie lap pool. I kid you not. My brother actually showed me video of him introducing Goober to the doggie pool, and Goober doing a couple of laps with my brother standing there in the pool with him, holding the leash (I know – it’s weird.). There is hope for Licorice!

  18. Pam

    She’s precious! Mine does that after eating – turns the rug into a face towel.

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