When one of my Grandma's beloved beagles chopped down on my nose, bit me hard and made me cry, I knew I would be to blame. I must have looked at it wrong, or spoke in the wrong tone. Something. Never mind the fact that I was a kid, and loved the stupid dog and did nothing to harm it. I just remember we were sharing a moment - he was looking me in the eye - and tried to eat my face.
My baby pictures were soon replaced by pictures of show dogs.
I think it's fair to say I'm carrying with me some baggage.
Greg's parents are animal people: they raise and show llamas, have 4 cats and 3 large dogs. The newest dog, a standard poodle, travels with them; they adore him. But he wasn't used to kids in his house, making kid noises, carrying kid toys. He was jumpy, and later, pushy with the kids, pulling on Zack's sweatshirt to move him around.
Poor Zack. He's afraid of dogs, and no amount of reassurance helped, especially when the dog had a good 20 pounds on him.
I had to choke back a bitter laugh when he was being instructed to be the alpha dog, to be the pack leader. Like he's Cesar Millan, age 6.
I woke up the first morning we were there, angry. My whole life I've tolerated pesky pets, taken second place, been instructed on my failings, being a beta dog and all.
I sat in bed and it came to me: I just don't care. It's not my thing. I care, deeply, profoundly, about being a strong woman; a treasured wife, a tender mom. And while I really don't wish any dog ill - step off PETA, I don't - I'm sick of feeling like there is something wrong with me because I don't want to spend my days, using a deep voice, asserting myself.
I suck at being the top dog. It's unpopular in my family circles, but there it is.
I can live with it.