A couple of weeks ago our beagle Cleo finished puppy training.

She graduated at the top of her class and everything, although admittedly she was technically the only one who showed up for the final class … but still, being the sole survivor meant that she actually got rewarded with all of the treats that were supposed to have been divvied up between all three of the graduating puppies, so I’m pretty sure that counts as a major victory in her book nonetheless!  All in all it was a good class and over the course of the six weeks I think my wife and I probably learned just as much as she did – how to curb her biting from a death grip down to more of a playful mauling, how to get her to stop playing hide and seek with our shoes, why it’s so much more desirable to go to the bathroom out in the grass as opposed to right in the middle of the carpet where we just got done soaking up the last time that she felt the urge…


Ok, so I guess you could say that we’ve still got a bit of work to do on that last one, but even just in general there have been a lot of things that we’ve picked up on about puppies, and beagles, and even about Cleo’s own personality.  For example:

  • Cleo likes food.
  • Cleo will do things for food.
  • Cleo will also do things in spite of not getting food.

Lately she’s started this horrible habit of trying to steal things off of people’s plates, which as a licensed and bonded stuffed crust pizza enthusiast, I, for one, happen to be firmly against!  And it’s not like we don’t feed her – some days I swear that dog eats better than we do, or at least more colorful and fun-looking foods than we do, anyways.  Here I am on a diet, eating salads and low-fat granola bars, while she’s over there in the corner munching on doggy ice cream treats and dog biscuits shaped like little steaks and even these special cookies that look suspiciously like Oreos … but for dogs, and yet she’s got the audacity to steal from my plate?!

But the sad truth of the matter, as any frustrated puppy owner will woefully confirm, is that in reality we have no choice but to comply with the bite-sized demands of these creatures that are systematically designed to be both adorable and obnoxious for the first two years of their lives!   These treats … well, let’s call them what they really are – bribes … sure, they’re all neat and colorful and offer different scents and flavors to them, but for us pet owners eventually they can all be distilled down to answering one simple question:

How many minutes of quiet time does this treat buy me???

Those green rawhides that are supposed to make her breath smell all minty fresh?  Good for about a minute and a half, tops … and her breath still smells horrible because who are we kidding – all the chewing gum in the world can’t help an animal who introduces herself by sniffing the other dog’s butt.

Her pink KONG when filled up with carrots and peanut butter?  That’ll get me just about halfway through my shower, and even though she may bark incessantly at me for the entire remainder of my personal bathroom time, hey, every minute spent barking is a minute not spent chewing!

By far my own personal godsend, though, has just been plain, old regular bones – they occupy her for upwards of 20-30 minutes at a time, and worst case scenario you might occasionally find one buried underneath the pillows on your couch … still definitely not the worst of “presents” that she’s capable of leaving, if you know what I’m saying…

The funny thing is, at one point her trainer even mentioned to us that we should actually be happy that Cleo is as food-motivated as she is because apparently some puppies out there can just be jerks out of spite and not even waving a hotdog complete with all the fixin’s in front of them will soothe the savage beast once they really get going!  At the end of the day, my wife and I both readily agree that maybe we are lucky after all because we just couldn’t imagine having to deal with that kind of irrational behavior from a dog on a regular basis.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Her Royal Highness Cleopatra the Hungry requires a snack of chicken and lamb, but not beef-flavored biscuits at high noon, and she gets particularly angry when she’s kept waiting.

Trust me – you wouldn’t like Cleo when she’s angry…