Charlie craves a little more respect

My dog doesn't have a demanding job. He isn't expected to fetch, sit, or roll over. I don't ask him to do the laundry, drive the kids to school, or hold up his end of the dinner conversation. I only want him to do one thing, and that is to come when I call him. And for some reason, lately he's developed a wait-and-see attitude about his one and only task.

He usually comes when it's dinner time, though he's gotten rather picky about the dog food we've been feeding him. And he always comes when it's time to go for a walk. But bedtime is another story.

Charlie sleeps in the basement. Charlie doesn't like this. Charlie feels his rightful bed is on the second floor with the rest of the family. He'll gladly sleep in any one of our beds - he's not choosy. He just wants to get off the floor. And out of the basement.

So when I put him out at night for his last chance to sniff the evening air and bark at passersby, I wait a suitable interval and then call him. I call softly at first so as not to disturb the neighbors, then gradually louder until I sometimes reach a drill-sergeant's pitch.

Usually I find Charlie sitting some seven feet away from me, head slung low in the darkness, refusing to budge until I move toward him. Then he scurries in, but tries to dodge my attempts to shoo him down to the basement. The very nice basement, I might add, with the soft dog bed and doggie treats awaiting him. The very basement that my other dog, Rosie, has no trouble sleeping in.

Charlie's nighttime ritual also includes refusing to eat the bedtime snacks I offer on my upturned palm, then leave on the ground in front of him. Until I turn away, that is. He wants to make the point that he's not happy with me and he can't be bought. But he doesn't want Rosie getting the extra biscuits, so he always manages to snarfle them down.

Charlie is mostly a happy chap but he's always had a stubborn side. He's a terrier, you see. He will run after a ball if I throw it; he'll even bring it back to me. But he'll never let me have it back. He grips it in his teeth and plays tug-o'-war with it and me. He's mostly calm, but occasionally demanding. If he wants to be patted, he'll position his head right under my hand and move back and forth, as if showing me how the job should be done - by a trained professional, like him.

I love him dearly, but I have my stubborn side, too. I will walk him, feed him, pat him, and even let him nap on the good rug. But I won't let him sleep upstairs at night.

Why? Because he barks at every passing squirrel, car, dog, and jogger. He barks loudly and sporadically. He sits by the picture window in our living room, standing guard and waiting to sound the alarm. Over and over again. This is, dare I say it, unpleasant during daytime hours. But it's a bona fide deal-breaker at night. It's hard to sleep through or around his barking. In the basement, he is without benefit of a window, so he gives up and goes to doggie slumber land.

Worst of all, Charlie feels he should sleep not only on our bed, but in it, with his head preferably on my pillow. With his dog breath in my face all night.

I don't think so.

So in the basement Charlie sleeps, and my punishment for this is that Charlie won't come when I call him. Call it a stalemate between soulmates, my dog Charlie and I.

I think the main difference between our two dogs is that Rosie knows she's a canine pet, but Charlie thinks he's a person; a member of the family who should be treated with respect - and not just with dog treats. Charlie doesn't mind having a dog. He just doesn't want to sleep with one.

I understand completely.

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