My Dog: A High Functioning Sociopath

If you stalk the Internet anywhere to the extent we do, or have the Tumblr habit serious enough to make some folks raise their eyebrows and cough “rehab” under their breath, then you’re probably familiar with the blog “Dog Shaming.” People post adorable pictures of their dogs wearing signs saying, “I chewed up Mommy’s favorite pillow!” or “I have stinky farts!” It’s cute. It’s relatable. Everyone loves a good tale of a bad dog- especially when the dog’s just mischievous.

And then there’s Lily. A dog so adorably awful, that she might crash “Dog Shaming” if we ever submitted for her. She also might be a (high functioning) sociopath, so the likelihood of us ever getting a picture of her looking guilty is slim to none.

Nearly five years ago, our family adopted Lily from “Lost Dog and Cat Rescue.” We should have seen the signs of sociopathy then, but regrettably, we were ignorant and blinded by her spotted ears. We had gone with the intent to adopt an older male beagle- but that grumpy faced little puppy wriggled her way into our mother’s arms, and then promptly guilted her way into our father’s heart, and soon enough we were on our way home with a puppy of unidentifiable origin.

According to the rescue, she was ‘part beagle, part lab, part pitbull.’ As she grew older, people liked to throw out suggestions. “She looks like a greyhound,” and my personal favorite “do you think she has some Doberman in her?” We were completely unaware of what traits might come out of her genetic melting pot, but thus far they are all uniquely her own.

Lily’s badness varies. You have the standard level “garbage hound.” You have the disgustingly annoying “eats strange things and pukes them up on your underwear (or in your shoes).” When she was younger, she was always a flight risk. She gets a little too enthusiastic when playing with her older brother, and sometimes forgets that his thighs are not actually chicken wings to be eaten. She likes to stand on people’s heads- and crotches (she has an unerring testicle finding ability), and chairs, and tables, and occasionally the odd windowsill. And she’s the best critter hunter around- a proud accomplishment, except for the fact that cats also seem to fall under the “critter” category. All of these fall within the acceptable doggy antisocial behavioral scale- until you get to the barking.

Lily sits
She sits. Cold. Calculating. Waiting.

Your dog probably barks. Your dog is probably really annoying when someone knocks on the door, or when a squirrel is spotted. But I’d be willing to bet good money that your dog does not unleash a sound so unholy, so grating, that you will actually hear it in your sleep. That just the whisper of your dog’s name can send shivers up and down children’s and old people’s spines.

Lily barks at everything. When a squirrel (dog, person, airplane, phantom dust particle) is outside the window, she will jump up from being dead asleep and start howling. This has nearly given my mother several heart attacks, caused my sister to drop her computer once, and I nearly received third degree burns from spilling coffee all over myself.

When she gets too annoying from barking inside the house, we’ll throw her outside: which then results in a good thirty minutes straight of barking. Someone walks by? Barks. Sees a squirrel? Barks. Hears a noise? Barks. Has a stray thought? Barks. She treats the front yard as her personal Twitter, sending out 140 decibels a second as she lets everyone in a hundred square miles know everything that’s on her mind.

Our fence is pretty old, and has slats in it. As a result of the natural wear and tear of the years, some of the slats are loose. Lily has discovered a way to pop her head out, thus optimizing the scare factor. Our neighbors will walk by, not hear the barking, and assume “Oh thank God, she’s inside. We’re safe.” And then halfway down the fence, Lily’s head will suddenly appear, barking to beat the band. We hear screams a lot. My father swears that he once heard an old woman tell her to go fuck herself (later the story was changed to a nun [who has nuns in their neighborhood?] walking by and as Lily started barking, she screamed “HOLY FUCKING GOD ALMIGHTY”)

Lily is famous in our neighborhood. Our mom was at the grocery store the other day, and someone turns around and says to her, “You’re Lily’s mom, aren’t you?” Not Katie or Hope’s mom- Lily’s. Mom immediately responds with “I’m sorry” because inevitably a tale of “your dog shattered my grandmother’s hearing aid!” was imminent. This time it was positive, a slight shake of the woman’s head acknowledging her barking, but followed up by “Oh but she’s so pretty and sweet.”  Fortunately this woman had met Lily outside of the fence and was aware of the fact that Lily’s barking is the equivalent of her screaming “HI” in your face for a good ten minutes. It’s a nice attempt at sweet, even if it’s psychotically annoying.

Yesterday an older man in a wheelchair was coming down the sidewalk, enjoying the nice day and the company of his grandchildren, when out comes Lily, doing her best Paul Revere “The British are coming!” My mom heard the screams of the kids, saw that the man was in a wheelchair, and ran over to attempt to drag Lily back and apologize profusely. Instead the man shakes his head and goes “Oh, no, no, it’s fine. I didn’t mean to scare her!”

Apparently Lily considers fish to be critters as well.
Apparently Lily considers fish to be critters as well.

My mother’s shame was inexplicable. It was so bad that we got lectured for Lily’s behavior, if only so that someone would be remorseful for it.

The other night Hope babysat, and the parents got home late and didn’t have cash ready. So, being the magnanimous person she is, she told them to just run the money over at a later time. About half an hour later she got a text from the mother saying “I left the money in your mailbox! I didn’t want to knock and wake up Lily.”

When she was but a wee pup, we had this thing called a “good-o-meter.” We got the idea from Lilo and Stitch- and drew an outline of Lily at the beginning of the week, and every time she was bad, it got shaded in red a bit.

It was usually hell-spawn red within the first day. Eventually we gave up on the practice because we were going broke buying sketch books and crayons.

Probably the worst thing about Lily is when she comes back inside from her bark frenzy. She enters the room doing about 60mph, stops herself by crashing into another dog, surveys the room, crawls up in a lap, and then gives you those big doe eyes, and puts her paws on either side of your neck – keeping direct eye contact the whole time. And instantly- despite the fact that two minutes previously you wanted to drop kick her over the fence- you forget everything that happened. You give her your seat. “Oh, Lily, are you cold? Here, have my blanket.”

In a way, Lily is the perfect sociopath. She has no remorse for any of her terrible actions, and at the end of the day she has successfully manipulated us all into believing that she is a kind hearted, loveable dog who just wants a blanket and a cuddle. But while we’re opening our hearts and beds to her, we’d bet good money that she’s plotting our inevitable demise.

You can see it in her eyes.

Blank. Beady. Calculating.

Hope Racine
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Hope Racine

Associate Editor at Literally, Darling
Hope is a freelance writer and editor who makes her living writing things about Jane Austen and editing things about taxes. She has an unhealthy relationship with George Washington. Hope is currently working toward her life goal of being on Jeopardy! and owning all the dogs.
Hope Racine
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