Oscar the Passive-Aggressive

Have I mentioned that I have a weird dog? Those who know both me and the dog often remark on how similar we are; be that as it may, Oscar is weird. Often people also liken him to a cat.

Although he’s far less shy than he used to be, he can still get skittish and is rather aloof around new people. Also, since he never barks (except in his sleep, when he can sound downright ferocious–well, for Oscar), unless his collar is jingling, he is so quiet that he can very easily get underfoot because you just had no idea he was there.  Unlike many if not most cats, however, Oscar has a deep felt dependence on me.

So when I picked him up from Starbucks-Elizabeth’s house on Saturday after The Boyfriend and I got back from a daytrip to Block Island, Oscar was pretty happy to see me. I was tired, though, so when I got home, rather than sit in the living room with my dog for a while to decompress, I went straight upstairs. I don’t know if it was because I missed this key step in Oscar’s routine (I should also mention that he is the poster-child for “creature of habit”) or if he was feeling needy because we’d been apart all day or what, but it took him a while to settle down.

In fact, he never really did that night. He kept waking me up. But unlike some dogs, who will actually approach you and, say, lick your face or something to get your attention when you have your eyes closed, Oscar scratches. When Oscar scratches, it is rife with meaning, although the meaning is only sometimes clear and then usually only to me.

Sometimes it just means he has fleas, but we took care of those pretty thoroughly recently, so I’m skeptical. Many times he scratches as a diversionary activity when he is either being asked to do something he doesn’t want to do, or when he wants to do something he isn’t sure he is permitted to do, or when he is trying to decide something . . . or when he wants attention.

I’m pretty sure his overnight scratching this weekend was for the latter of these reasons. (How do I know this? Because he has spent the entire morning in my presence not scratching.) That night he woke me up at midnight, and again at 4 a.m., and again at 6 a.m. Even though I take his collar off at night, because he sleeps on my bed, when he sits up to scratch, the whole bed bounces up and down and I invariably wake up. It is incredibly annoying. He’s like a person who can’t handle confrontation and has to draw attention to his needs by doing or saying something apparently unrelated in order to round-about-ly bring my focus to the issue at hand.

I had been really really hoping to sleep in on Saturday, but when Oscar woke me up again at 6, I realised it was probably a lost cause. Still, I kept kind of hoping. I looked at him and, seeing he had my attention, he stretched out on the bed next to my leg and turned over so I could give him a belly rub. Oh please. How did this dog get to be so spoiled? (You don’t have to answer that.) I scratched his chest a little bit and then rested my hand next to him on the bed spread. I closed my eyes. Suddenly I felt a little head on the back of my hand. He was now expecting me to scratch his ears.

Nope. I wanted at least one more hour of sleep. I was not going to do it.

He lifted his head. He landed it back down on the back of my hand. I didn’t move. He did it again. Soon he was patting my hand with his head, instead of the other way around, and even though I was still heartily annoyed, I couldn’t be so hard-hearted and humourless as not to realise that this was hilarious. What a dog! Almost soundlessly, he makes his wishes known, pretty much every time.

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