My Dog Named Spot
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From the time I was very young I wanted a dog named Spot. I don’t recall why, or that anyone I knew had a dog named Spot. I must have picked up the idea from early grade reading books or television. As I got older having a pet was not important as I had many other activities. Then one year my sister decided to give me a white Labrador puppy for a birthday present. I didn’t hesitate, much to her annoyance, to name her Spot.
Labradors are very popular pets because they are very friendly, playful, loyal and keenly intelligent. Spot is no different. Some people claim dogs do not really have personalities or show emotion. Most dog owners would disagree. Spot not only has a very unique and engaging personality but can be very emotional. She has one emotional characteristic and behavior that is both startling and hilarious. Spot is a dog with a very strong “attitude” at times, and doesn’t hesitate to express it.
From the time she was a puppy Spot has had the energy and endurance of a long distance runner. When she is playing her favorite game of “catch” she gallops like a race horse, chasing and retrieving the ball. Her speed is incredible; when she decides to chase a squirrel she starts running, fast, and after a few yards she really takes off like a jet lighting its afterburner. She is both carefree and careless, sometimes running so fast she will end up crashing into something, only to bounce back and start running again. All of this is not particularly unusual for young energetic Labradors. Additionally, like all pets, and particularly Labradors, Spot really demands a lot of interaction and attention with “her” family. What makes Spot very different her reaction when the game or attention is over.
I first noticed this behavior when I was watching television with Spot. The entire time she was next to me on the floor, and I was absent-mindedly scratching her ears, or she would roll over on her back for a “belly rub”. This kept up for probably the better part of a half hour. Apparently this was not enough for Spot. The telephone rang and I got up to answer it, and Spot got up as well. I noticed she shook her head and made a sound I had never heard, sounding sort of like “SHNOOFF!” and looked at me out of the corner of her eye, as if to say “you jerk!” and walked away. At first I thought she had sneezed, and I was simply “humanizing” her glance at me, like a glance of disgust.
I didn’t think much about it until a few days later. I was reading and she brought me her favorite ball of the day—she has several—indicating it was time for a game of catch and retrieve. We played for some time until she was panting heavily. I told her “that’s enough—get a drink” and, as usual, she did. And as usual a few moments later she was back with her ball. She kept putting in on my lap and I said “no, Spot, that’s enough. Settle down and go play.” With that remark she shook her snout, said “SHNOOFF!”, glared at me for a moment with a sideways glance and walked off. I thought to myself “this can’t be happening! Spot is “dissing” me!”
Later in the week a friend came by, and incidentally all of my friends are “hers” as well. Fortunately my friends are dog lovers and they will always give Spot lots of attention and play time. My friend had been scratching Spot’s ears, which she loves, and generally playing with her. He got up to get something and said “OK, Spot, that’s enough” and sure as winter snow he heard “SHNOOFF!” and got her glance of “Well the heck with you!” as she trotted of. He stopped and laughed and said “Spot! Where are your manners!” and finally I knew I was not the only one who noticed and was subjected to her “attitude”!