Barkley, the high maintenance dog

“Oh, you’re the worst kind.  You’re high maintenance, but you think you’re low maintenance.” – Harry Burns, and/or my husband.

Every day, I set out two sets of clothing for the following day: my yoga clothes, and my regular clothes.  I need to set out my yoga clothes in order to dress quietly and sneak out at the crack of OMG o’clock, and I need to set out my regular clothes because I need to set out my regular clothes or it will be endtimes.  I set out my clothes based on the next day’s weather and activities, and I do not deviate from that outfit. 

The other day it turned out to be unexpectedly rainy and foggy, and so I needed to wear my hair up, so that I wouldn’t look like a bedraggled mess by the end of the day.  That meant – since I’m on week eleven of Operation Growing Out My Hair – I needed certain hair accessories to hold back the multiple layers.  However, the hair accessories did not match my outfit, and so I had to alter my plans and wear a different shirt.  This may not sound like much to you – and now that I’m writing it down it doesn’t sound like much to me, either – but it threw my day off, just a little bit. 

You know how people say that after a while, dogs take on their owner’s personalities?  Actually, I don’t know if that’s a thing or not, but my dog has taken on MY personality.  For one thing, he freaks out if we don’t put him in his crate by 9:00 pm.  If he could speak, he would be saying It’s bedtime for the love of god!  Put me to bed, already!  Do you want me to be tired all day tomorrow?  I’m just saying, I understand. 

When we were recently redoing the basement, I was prepared for confusion on my dog’s part.  This is the dog who lay outside the bathroom door crying because he had accidentally wagged a shampoo bottle off of the side of the tub.  Something’s different.  The shampoo bottle is on the floor.  Everything is wrong!  When the boys play too noisily for his liking, he would go down to the basement and curl up on the green-and-white fabric sofa down there.  I knew we would be giving away that sofa, and so I went out and bought a cozy new dog bed, along with a new squeaky toy and some of his favourite chew treats.  When the sofa was gone, I put his new dog bed in the usual spot by the fireplace upstairs, and took the old one downstairs, along with the squeaky toy and the treat.  He followed me anxiously, eyeing the treat.  Here, Barkley, I said, here is a cozy new place for you!  I made him sit in the old dog bed, gave him a treat, and then witnessed my dog and the mental anguish I made him suffer. 

He took the treat and ran upstairs.  He dropped the treat in his new bed and stared at me.  Then he started whining.  Loudly.  He refused to eat the treat, which alarmed me because a) he eats everything vaguely edible, including his own fecal matter if it is left unattended, b) he consumes everything in his dog bowl within 90 seconds of receiving his dog bowl, and c) he has never before NOT eaten a treat. 

Me: It’s okay, Barkley. Have your treat!  Now you have two cozy places to sit! 


He contined to cry and whine, loudly, for the next hour.  Once in a while he would settle down enough to LICK the treat, but then it would make him cry all over again. 

Barkley: Why are you so cruel?  Why do you hate me?  What have I done to deserve this?

Then he would sit in the new bed in such an awkward way that the bed itself would tip over sideways and land on top of him and believe me, this did not help matters.  Finally he gave up, took the treat, and hid in his crate, surreptitiously eating it.  He eventually forgave me the mental pain I had put him through; he is a dog after all.

I understood.  Change is hard.  Different things are difficult.  WE ALL NEED TIME TO GET USED TO NEW IDEAS.  So I get it.  And yet sometimes I feel like there is a reality TV show, just waiting to be made, with my name on it. 


  1. This made me laugh and laugh. I’d lay out clothes the night before except I wear the same pair of jeans every workday, and a different shapeless baggy t-shirt. Dayhome lady wardrobe, yo! But you should see the obsessive detail I bring to weekly menu planning & grocery-list-writing.

    • I do that too! Menu planning and grocery lists. Even when I’m going to buy things that I buy every week – i.e., milk, bread. I STILL WRITE THAT DOWN.

  2. I don’t understand this post. Don’t you only ever wear black clothing? Did you take off one black shirt and put on another black shirt? What kind of hair accessories are you talking about? WERE YOU WEARING A BERET, NICOLE?! Or worse: a hair scrunchy?

    I only ever wear solid colours so everything matches everything else. Or at least that’s my theory.

    • Nan, I sure hope you are sitting down right now, because the shirt I had set out was a purple t-shirt. I know. I know. I think maybe I was channeling you or something. Sadly, it went back into the drawer, because it was too light for a cold day and it was purple. I had to wear a hairband, and it was black…so black sweater it was. Still, I felt all weird about it – because I was all ready to wear colour like a big giant show-off.

    • PURPLE!!!!!!! I’m very proud of you.

  3. I am cracking up because my dog is the same exact way…me too…but we got rid of his blanket and replaced it with a cozy bed…a very expensive one…and he freaked out for weeks.
    He would pace at night.
    Don’t even get me started on putting a closet door in the bathroom

  4. Trying so hard not to laugh at Barkley’s pain. Failing. Once when I was staying with my friend for the week-end she was dog-sitting. My friend goes to bed early and I read for hours at night. The dog kept wandering anxiously between the two bedrooms where we were until I had to turn off the light JUST TO NOT STRESS OUT THE DOG. Then she refused to go out unless we both went with her. She was one dominant bitch.

  5. Ha! Your poor dog. Sounds like he has a rough life over there.

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