It was a standoff. The dog stood on the couch, crouched and ready to attack. I stood balanced and braced for anything. Time stood still and I looked from Olive to Leah, back to Olive and then to Mr. and Mrs. Bunkers. No one moved and my fingers twitched while I cracked my knuckles. The theme song to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was playing in my mind because I knew at any moment this could break into an all-out Wild West showdown.
After the spring semester I had decided it was time to make that monumental leap. I had to take one uncomfortable, awkward and far away from Texas step to visit my girlfriend’s home in Iowa. If you’ve ever been in a serious relationship then you know that the first prolonged visit to your girlfriend or boyfriend’s home is a BIG DEAL. Of course I was worried about impressing the parents and seeming somewhat normal. But what did Leah say to me as we were driving through Oklahoma on the Indian Turnpike? “Now be careful around Olive. She’s a really sweet dog but it takes a while for her to get used to people. You just have to let her get used to you.”
Uhm, what? Impressing parents is what I was worried about. Dogs? I’ve been around dogs my whole life, and I’ll even go so far as to say that I am probably better with dogs than your average Joe. As far back as my memory goes, the Stephens family has had a dog. Princess, Rex, Slam Dunkin’ Doctor Jay (Doc), Gracie, Sue, Queenie, Shotgun, Willie, Smoke, Lucy, Spur, Stonewall, Kate, some girl dog I can’t recall; Callie and Misty are the ones that I remember.
All of these, with the exception of three, are beagle dogs. Beagles are great hounds and so to us they were hunting dogs. I could tell crazy stories you wouldn’t believe about hunting with these great hounds in the piney woods of East Texas but those will have to wait for another time. The important thing is that my brother Eli and I trained many of these dogs ourselves from the time I was about 7. Not only did we teach them to come when called, we taught them to track rabbits and foxes. And we hardly used treats! So yes, you can train dogs without beggin’ strips.
But apparently Olive wasn’t anything like these dogs. It seemed sort of like I was about to be staying in a house with a wild beast. When we arrived in Iowa, one of the first things Leah’s mom told me was to not look Olive in the eyes and she added, “You may not want to hug Leah or anything while Olive is around either.” Uhm ok, is she a grizzly bear? Is she some sort of siren who will lure me to my demise with her eyes? Of course with all of my dog experience I figured I’d be great friends with this supposedly dangerous animal. When I first met her I let her sniff my hand. She reached out tentatively, sniffed and backed away. No problem there. She just seemed shy.
However (yup there it is) the more I was around Olive, the more I began to see that this dog was definitely a little bit weird. Her eyes had a wild kind of crazy look. But nothing happened until that one night. We were all sitting on the couch watching TV, I don’t remember what was on but I got up and went to take a leak. I returned to the living room to see Olive had moved to my seat on the couch. I guess she didn’t hear me call seat check, dumb bitch.
There were no other spots to sit other than all the way in the kitchen. But guess what? No one made an effort to scoot ole Olive out of my spot, not even Leah MY GIRLFRIEND. I’m a guest in the house and the dog steals my seat! I thought about asking if there was a dog house I could sit in but thought better of it. Well if they weren’t going to offer to give my seat back, I’d just sit my derriere on the floor.
I walked toward Leah and went to sit at her feet, like a slave, when out of nowhere the terrible and ferocious demon they call a dog was on her feet, hackles raised and barking her lungs out at me. Startled by the sudden outburst of oh-so-threatening barks I took a step back and prepared for an attack. “Oh Olive hush! Don’t be rude,” and “OLIVE!” and “Olive be nice,” and a whole lot more rebukes followed. But NO ONE LIFTED A FINGER TO MOVE THE DOG. Instead guess what the dog got? She got petted… to “calm her down.”
At that point I knew that a war had begun. I knew then that the dog was territorial. They said she was afraid of me and that was true, but she wasn’t afraid because she thought I might hurt her or her family. She was afraid because she thought I was moving in on her property. She was spoiled into thinking that this house was her kingdom. I had been content to keep my distance and develop no close fellowship with this animal but she had just made things personal and I wasn’t about to let that slide. If Leah and her parents wouldn’t control their crazy bitch dog, I would. The score was Olive 1, Seth 0. But the game had just begun, and Olive was about to find out that I wasn’t playing fetch, I was playing chess.
Guess what? In addition to another chapter of My Girlfriend’s Parents and their Crazy Dog later this week, I’ll also be letting you meet the dog who inspired this all. That’s right, I’ll be posting a video of Olive so you can all see what I’m talking about. Thanks for reading!