69: On the Furniture

69: On the Furniture

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

On the Furniture

Fun fact: The American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded in 1884 and has the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world.

Furniture is for people, not dogs. This had been my steadfast, non-negotiable rule for three decades. My family knew my rule, and dogs, husband and children obeyed.

This was before Landon came into my family’s life as a twelve-week-old Golden Retriever. The no-furniture rule was easily enforced at first because none of Landon’s new family used the furniture anymore. My daughter sat on the floor propped up against the sofa to watch TV so she could play with him. I lay down on the floor with a few throw pillows to read so Landon could climb all over me. My son had puppy-wrestling matches on the carpet. I sat cross-legged on the floor to groom him and give puppy massages. Landon didn’t care about the furniture because we were always joining him on the floor.

When Landon was six months old, I decided he was big enough to stay in the back yard rather than in his indoor crate when we were not home. But I was concerned that he would be afraid all alone in our private, fenced back yard. One day, I went out to run a few errands. I intended to be gone for a short time, but it took longer than I thought. I hurried home in a panic. Would my poor little puppy be scared, lonely, and quivering at the back door?

I parked the car in the garage. Leaving the groceries, I rushed through the house to the back door. No Landon. I searched the shady side yard. No Landon. I looked to the oak grove that surrounded the deck. On the deck is a two-seater glider. And on it was Landon, sprawled across the full length of the glider gently swaying in the breeze. I called his name. He raised his head in a sleepy greeting and rolled onto his back, making the glider rock even more. He looked content, happy and, of course, adorable. “Well, it is only outdoor furniture,” I rationalized. Looking back, I suspect this may have been the exact point in time when Landon determined there was a crack he might slip through in my “no dogs on the furniture” rule.

Landon grew into a handsome young dog. He was a superstar in training classes. He learned many words and commands. He passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen exam. He didn’t bark or dig in the back yard. He came when called. He picked up items I dropped. He was delightful to new people. He got along well with other dogs. The staff at the boarding kennel and veterinary office adored him. And every chance he got, he made himself comfortable on the furniture.

All too often, I would walk into the family room unannounced. There would be Landon snuggled at one end of the sofa with his head on the decorative pillow. “Off,” I would command. “Now!” He would obediently and with great effort get his legs underneath him. Then he would carefully steady himself. Once positioned, he would contemplate the floor as if it were twenty feet away. Then he would look at me as if questioning my cruelty. Eventually, his front legs would slide to the floor, and his hind legs would clumsily follow. This was painful to watch, and it took a minute. It was hard to believe this was the same dog that hiked rugged trails, nimbly bounded up and over boulders, and swam for hours in the lake.

Years later, Landon would stay alone in the house during inclement weather. When he heard my car pull into the garage, he would come to the door to greet me. I would kneel down and offer hugs and kisses. He would have such a sleepy look on his face and would be so nice and warm. I never thought much of this until one rainy, cold day. Returning home from an exhausting day of work, I greeted Landon as usual, then plopped myself in my husband’s chair, resting my legs on the ottoman. Both the chair and the ottoman were all warmed up for me. Landon stood by the chair and put his head on the armrest. I glared at him. He lifted his left eyebrow, then his right, and then his left. He would not meet my gaze. No words were spoken, but much was said.

My daughter moved back home after completing college. Although she had few belongings, she asked if she could bring just one item of furniture into our home — her antique upholstered chair. We rearranged the furniture in the TV room and found a spot for the chair. Landon, always part of any goings-on, watched with great interest. We positioned the chair. My daughter, satisfied with the location, went to fall back into the chair, but was not fast enough. Landon jumped on to the chair, curled up and gave a sigh of approval. “Landon, you are like having a bratty, little brother,” my daughter said. Thereafter, just like siblings, my daughter and Landon grappled over who had first rights to that chair.

It has been nine years since Landon came into my life, and he and I are now in our senior years. We spend much of our time together. We both have agreed that rules, once so important, are no longer necessary. Now, Landon is invited to join me on the sofa when I read. I sit outside on one patio chair drinking my morning coffee, and Landon sits in the other. We somehow both fit, but not comfortably, on the chair and ottoman to watch TV together. We have spent countless hours on the glider made for two — swaying, thinking and being. I have enough wonderful memories of Landon to last a lifetime, but it just may be that the most cherished memories I will have of this dear dog happened on the furniture.

~Elizabeth Greenhill

More stories from our partners