1. Look both ways before you cross the street. Please, please, please—if you learn nothing else on this list, get this one down.
2. If you get tangled in a leash, just step out one paw at a time, and unwind. It’s really not that difficult. Really.
3. When people get down on the floor to do yoga, or stretch, or just pick up a piece of lint, that is not an invitation for you to pant wildly in their face, lick their cheeks, and plop your enormous derriere down in their lap. We love you, but really, it is unpleasant—and probably very unhealthy—to take cleansing yoga breaths when the air is full of doggy breath.
4. When I place a pile of clean laundry on the floor to fold, it is not for you. It is not there so you can walk in circles on top of it, then make your smelly self comfortable lying on it. And the baby’s mat is definitely not yours to lie on. You have a lovely bed that you may lounge upon at any time.
5. Don’t sneak up behind me at night—especially not when I’m holding the baby. If you haven’t noticed, your fur is pitch black, and I’ve nearly decapitated myself in violent collisions with you in dark rooms at night. And if I’m gone, who would buy you treats?
6. If you find that you must throw up inside the house, there is plenty of hardwood flooring available for your yakking pleasure. Please use that instead of the carpet. (I appreciate the way you always station yourself right at the seam where the hardwood meets the carpet, but still, you have a gift of aiming for the carpet. You’re not doing this on purpose, are you?)
7. Corollary to #6: If you absolutely must use the bathroom inside the house—I understand that sometimes even the best of dogs have emergencies, and if you do, it is probably your owner’s fault—but again, just find a nice spot on the hardwood. Your life expectancy will be much longer if you do this.
8. It is not necessary to eat paper, books, and DVDs when we leave you alone in the house for a little while. We will always come home—always. We know you are unhappy when we leave—but eating our stuff just makes your misery continue after we get home, and where’s the fun in that?
9. Corollary to #8: If you simply must display your displeasure by eating books, please don’t eat the ones that belong to the library. I imagine they have a distinct old-books-from-the-library scent that will be easy for you to distinguish. Library books cost a lot of money. (And you’re welcome, Athens-Clarke County Public Library, for my $200 “donation” on behalf of my dog.)
10. It is not necessary to bark 5,000 times when the doorbell rings. One bark will do the trick.
11. And on the subject of barking, if the baby is asleep, it is not necessary to bark at all when the doorbell rings.
12. Sometimes, Daddy likes to knock on the walls just to mess with you. No one is at the door; Daddy is just being mean.
13. Speaking of Daddy being mean . . . sometimes he pretends to throw the ball, and he doesn’t really throw anything. You have my permission to run into him and knock him down with your ginormous head whenever he does this. I promise to laugh hysterically and give you lots of treats.
I know we’ve hit 13 already, but I’ve got a few more bonus lessons . . .
14. If you would quit pulling on your leash, you would take a lot more walks and have a much fuller doggy life with many more opportunities to sniff new things.
15. If you must eat grass in preparation for emptying your stomach, just let me know you’ve been eating grass—we can work out some sort of paw signal or something—and I’ll gladly leave you outside for a few extra minutes.
16. Sometimes, you just gotta go in the rain. Sorry, bud, that’s just the way it is, and the sooner you accept that fact and stop looking at me with those “Are you crazy?” eyes, the happier we will both be.
17. When it rains, just stand at the door and give me one paw at a time to wipe the mud off. This is not, by the way, an invitation for you to flop onto your back in the doorway and roll your wet fur around on the floor, hoping for a luxurious belly rub.
18. You are no longer a puppy. You weigh 80 (ahem, maybe 85) pounds, and you are not a lap dog. Wait. Maybe I don’t want to teach you that one after all . . .