Just the plain sight of the vacuum cleaner, throws our older dogs into despair and panic mood and each and every time I try to clean our living room floor, we go through the same procedure.
They stop whatever they are doing and act like their life would be in immediate danger. No other machine in, or around the house causes so much panic, not even the lawn mower or the yard blower.
They are instantly alert when they see me pushing the vacuum cleaner and they are ready for takeoff any second. They are torn between their loyalty toward me and their fear from the loud monster, which seems to be chasing them, no matter where they go.
We have only one room with carpet and that’s our living room; the room, where we all live together in the evenings and on the weekends. That’s where we, the humans have our chairs and get comfortable and so do the dogs on their pillows. It’s their room as much as ours, our safe haven, where we all get together and unwind from a long day.
Our house routine got shaken up a little, when we took a new puppy in. Both of our dogs tried to teach the newcomer everything they think a dog should know, for a successful and happy life in our home.
They share toys and treats, they teach how to bark at the mailman and how to wake up our house squirrel, when it’s napping on the fence.
The weather got cooler, they spend more time inside now and the doggy door is not used as frequent, as it was used during the summer months.
Our new puppy is a very happy dog. Patches tail is wagging all day long and she has a very friendly demeanor toward anything new that comes her way, including the loud monster that cleans the carpet.
I entered the living room with the vacuum cleaner and Patches just sat there on her pillow with a curios look on her face. She is 5 months old and everything new is greeted with the same curiosity and the same excitement. Patches didn’t act fearful at all; she walked up to the vacuum cleaner, looked at it, sniffed a little bit, wagged her tail and declared the “new friend” as harmless.
I started to vacuum clean and still everything was fine. The puppy was playing with a toy on the dog bed; the older dogs were outside…life was good.
That changed about one minute later, when the older dogs came into the house. They entered the living room – the same way Kramer does on Seinfeld – and they were instantly on full alert. Both looked in disbelieve at the “Monster” and the puppy. Our oldest dog stood between the dog pillow and the vacuum cleaner and he started barking, while the other one went to the dog bed to alarm the puppy.
The puppy didn’t move right away, but then finally she got up and stood beside our oldest dog, who was still barking. Patches looked confused and I could tell she wasn’t sure what to do and so she started barking as well.
Now life was back to normal and chaos took over. The little one went under a chair, only her nose and the chair were sticking out and she was shaking like a leave. The older ones, who are too big to fit under any furniture, declared defeat and decided to drawback. They gave me a pitiful look, barked one last time at the vacuum cleaner and left the room in formation. The oldest first, the youngest dog last.
I was shaking my head. It had started so good and for a minute there, it looked like our new family addition wasn’t’ scared of anything and the ongoing war between dogs and vacuum cleaner would finally come to an end.
It made me wonder about us, the human beings. We are smarter than that, aren’t we?
We humans know better, than to program fear into our children and grandchildren right?
But then, when I thought about it some more, I realized that many of us react the same way our dogs just did. Hate, fear, distrust and racism are often a family tradition and the torch gets passed from generation to generation.
Children often don’t really know what they saying and they don’t know how much their words and actions will hurt others; they just repeat what they heard at home without thinking.