Meet our dog, Riggins.
He’s a fucking idiot.
Don’t get me wrong, we love him. We truly do. But he is dumber than a banana sandwich.
I’ll admit, we did not exactly set him up for success. The very first decision we made regarding Riggins was, after all, choosing to name him Riggins. This is in reference to a character from the amazing, deeply-revered (by us, and anyone with a soul) tv show Friday Night Lights (FNL).
You see, the FNL thing (for those of you who are new here) is a whole theme in our family, as Eric has the same name as the title character, Coach Eric Taylor, and it’s pretty much the main reason I agreed to go on a first date with him— on a Friday night, no less! After that, FNL continued to be a theme in our courtship, right up to our wedding hashtag, which was a spinoff of the FNL tagline “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”– #cleareyesfullheartstwojews (if none of this means anything to you, I apologize but also would like to know wtf is wrong with you. It’s the best show ever and god gave you a whole pandemic to catch up).
So anyway, to continue with the FNL theme like the cheeseheads we are, we named our dog Riggins, after FNL’s beloved character Tim Riggins.
Here’s the problem with that: Tim Riggins is a certifiable dingbat.
Yes, he’s a fantastic character with a heart of gold, but he is the resident dunce and also a classic, reckless bad boy. He fails out of school (because again– very dumb!) and lands himself in jail (because again– not smart!). He is the king of destructive decisions and bonehead antics.
Enter our Riggins. The eyes of an angel with the brain of a snow cone on hot pavement.
If you ask Eric or my mother in law, they will dispute the fact that he’s a nitwit, but they are blinded, I believe, by the missing hole in their hearts where a son/grandson would be. I never particularly wanted to have boys, so I have no such hole, and therefore no such soft spot for his endless and maddening shenanigans.
Said shenanigans can not be summed up in one post, and therefore creatively titled “Dog” will likely be an ongoing series. Presently I would like to focus on his most annoying trait– the barking.
When we first brought Riggins home, I was 7 months pregnant with Sophie (if you’re scratching your head thinking, “The last thing in the world I would do while 7 months pregnant is get a puppy,” then congrats, you respect yourself!) I immediately noticed that, while cute and fluffy and all that fun nonsense, the dog had a major flaw (pissing on our floor and licking it up aside)– he was very barky.
If he saw even a hint of movement outside the window (I’m talking a leaf gently blowing in the breeze), he’d bark as if someone was being murdered (ironically, if one of us were to be murdered, I guarantee you the dog would do jack shit, other than maybe find a good pillow upon which to sit and lick his penis.)
“This is a problem for me,” I said to Eric. This is how I begin most conversations in our house, so understandably, he did not respond.
“You need to train him to stop barking before this baby comes. If he barks at everything he sees, he will wake her. And if he wakes her, I will kill him.”
Eric rolled his eyes. “You can’t train a dog not to bark at perceived danger. It’s instinct. It’s what they’re supposed to do.”
This sounded suspect, as I know many a barkless dog, but I trusted that Eric knew what he was talking about, as he had spent the past 7 years on dog blogs and poring through Dog Training for Idiots with a highlighter and post-it pad, preparing for the day I finally relented and let him fulfill his dog-owning dreams.
In contrast to Eric, I put in roughly (and I’m estimating here) zero minutes of prep work for this puppy. But I had a yellow Labrador as a kid (for whom I did NOTHING). That felt like a sufficient prerequisite.
So I trusted in Eric’s research and countered, “Well then, if he can’t be trained to not bark at danger, he needs to be taught what actual danger is. Like, not a leaf. Or a squirrel. Not our car pulling into the driveway. Basically, I need you to train him to not be such a pussy.”
Eric: “Ok well that’s not really a thing.”
Fast forward a few months. The baby is born. The dog barks. The dog wakes the baby. The baby screams. I contemplate murder. Rinse, wash, repeat– every day, all day, leading up to present day. Eric and I send no less than 10 texts a week on this exact topic. Sometimes I can keep a sense of humor about it:
Other times I’m just done:
Then recently, I went to visit friends who got their same-breed dog at the same time we did, and you know what happened when I rang their doorbell?
Their dog stood there and promptly did NOT bark. At all. “Oh my god, how did you get her to not bark?!” I asked said friend.
“I trained her to not bark.”
“Well you know how you train dogs to sit? And stay? And not eat socks? And shit outside? I did the same thing, but with barking.”
I then googled “get dog to stop barking,” and no less than 893274987219847893247 links appeared with tools, tips and tricks for how to do just that.
I fear, however, that it is too late for us. The dog has become accustomed to his manic barking ritual, and the only solution is to lock him in the basement while Sophie naps. This felt cruel (to Eric. I clearly didn’t give a fuck), so Eric decided to move his entire home office from the large, sunny upstairs room to the dank, underground cellar-dungeon, so the dog has a friend during nap time. And thus, this is how we are currently living our lives:
And this complete rearrangement of our entire lives and schedules and bladder/bowel movements in order to work around the dog’s dumbness is a completely reasonable solution to the problem, right? RIGHT….?!