1. Trudeau is afraid of the oven. He has oven-phobia. There is no logical reason for this. He’s never had a bad oven experience, or been afraid of any other oven or even this particular oven before. But suddenly, the simple act of turning the oven on sends him into a full-blown panic attack. If he has even the slightest inkling that the oven is about to be turned on, he will completely lose his shit. He’ll hide in corners and try to squeeze his massive frame beneath end tables. He’ll ignore all food offerings designed to foster in him a new love of the oven. He’ll pace the house while hyperventilating. Before I figured out exactly what the hell was going on and started trying to head it off — mostly by “crating” Trudeau in my bedroom any time the oven is in use, because I am completely at a loss with this one — he expressed his anxiety by becoming an actual lap dog. He felt better but I was slightly crushed.
He’s not sensing a gas leak (the oven is electric), and if he’s picking up some scent or sound undetectable to human senses, I obviously don’t know about it. Mostly he just seems to be feeling emotionally fragile. Possibly about my cooking. Maybe he realizes there’s a fair chance that my attempts at culinary excellent may one day actually result in a fiery inferno.
2. He’s a surprisingly picky eater. I say “surprisingly” because one of his more terrifying qualities is his particular taste for anything that he shouldn’t eat. Body-destroying foxtails? Delicious. Goose crap? A delicacy, you uncultured swine. Roadkill skunk? It’s like convenient take-out. An entire live elk? That meat’s just really fresh. He also has a general policy wherein anything you throw at his face will be assumed to be food until proven otherwise. So you’d think I wouldn’t have any difficulty getting him to eat anything at all, but suddenly there are no chews good enough for him.
Meaty venison bone? Pass. Bully stick? Perhaps, if you ask nicely. Buffalo tendon? Yes, but only every other Thursday or on the full moon. The vet assures me his teeth are fine, though they probably won’t stay that way if he stops chewing on anything ever, and meanwhile I’m reduced to repeatedly placing various animal parts directly into his mouth until he realizes that actually, now that you mention it, this thing is delicious. Honestly, I think he’s probably just screwing with me. When he’s alone in the house he’s probably snickering into his paws. Which is a surprise because…
3. He is annoyingly polite. I probably brought this on myself by naming him after a Canadian, but seriously. He really likes to enjoy the furniture just like the rest of us, but first he has to check with you that it’s okay. This is his particularly pathetic opening move:
You might think — as I did, at first — that this is a delightful quality. He usually won’t just hop up onto the couch uninvited, so there’s always time to put down a fur-and-drool-catching blanket. But it’s more irritating than it seems, because first of all, you don’t always know what he’s asking for. His pathetic “can I get up there?” face is the same as his “can I have food?” face and his “can I have a walk?” face and his “why don’t we have a pet squirrel?” face. Once you ascertain that he is in fact attempting to gain access to the furniture, then he has to be invited. But typically he doesn’t find invitations convincing. I don’t know, maybe he has low self-esteem or something. Because you invite him on the couch and he doesn’t get up. He just stares at you as if to say, “Really? Me? Are you sure? I thought maybe you didn’t like me! I don’t want to impose!” You have to go from casually inviting to outright imploring before he’ll actually climb up. I’m never sure whether he’s uncertain of his welcome or whether he’s really pissed off that I didn’t actually bother to send him an engraved invitation and a nice platinum card that entitles the bearer to free furniture privileges for life.
4. Trudeau is a vigorous, active dreamer. It seems odd to me to use such doing words as adjectives describing my particular dog, because a character sketch of Trudeau in general terms would be more likely to involve words like “somnolent,” “laggard,” and possibly “pining for the fjords.” He’s perfectly content to spend a good 90% of his day enjoying various depths of snooze. As I write this, he’s chosen to illustrate my point by dragging himself laboriously from his bed, staggering two steps to a cooler stretch of floor, and collapsing with a heartfelt groan, as if he’s just expended an effort equal to the Iditarod.
In his dreams, though, he is clearly ferocious. He barks in a way that would be deep-throated and remarkably loud, if he were awake. (When he is awake, he’s remarkably quiet; I’ve had him nearly four years now and heard him actually bark maybe twice.) His legs twitch in a fair imitation of a mighty sprint that never leaves him winded. Sometimes his lips curl back from his teeth in a snarl that would be truly terrifying if the sound that accompanied it wasn’t reminiscent of a distressed guinea pig. You’re not fooling anybody, Trudeau. Not even those dream-squirrels you’re chasing.