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I may be queen of the house, but to our puppy, my husband is master

emily flake for the globe and mail/emily flake The Globe and Mail

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By any measure, I should command at least some modest respect, shouldn't I?

I'm a parent to three high-energy, non-stop little girls and the undisputed control centre of the household. I am a partner in a large law firm and run a highly successful practice. I occasionally find time to volunteer in the community. My house is clean, my affairs organized.

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So when Puppy Dog entered our house, I anticipated she would treat me with due regard. Then why doesn't she? Apparently, it's because I'm a girl.

Since Puppy Dog arrived, I've been treated to a stark lesson in the laws not of man, but of beast. Under those laws, man is king.

And Puppy Dog is indeed his best friend. Woman, it seems, factors far lower in the pecking order. Try as I may, Puppy Dog accords me no respect or obedience.

Who walks her? Who feeds her? Who picks up the poop irrespective of the location or consistency? Who calms her when the postman delivers mail at 7 p.m., when the neighbourhood is dark and she goes berserk?

Who wearily gets up and opens the back door at 3 a.m. when the whiz can't wait? Who then begs her to come in from the yard before her barking wakes the neighbours' children, as well as the dead, then physically retrieves her with treats after cajoling and threats have failed?

Neither the husband nor the children. It is I. And for that service, lovingly rendered and carefully delivered, even leaving aside the professional and personal accomplishments, I deserve some affection and respect from Puppy Dog. Not.

She has one master, and he is a he. Husband, a lovely, kind man and super-smart, couldn't organize his way out of a paper bag, much less run the household.

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Mr. "I don't walk Puppy Dog or pick up the poop" man. Mr. "I didn't really want a puppy dog – she was your idea – but okay, since we have her, I could love her and, yes, let her adore me in return" man.

Puppy Dog has merely to catch sight of Husband and she dives to find an offering, a gift of some sort, even something pried from my hands or stripped from my body, with which to greet him in a ceremony of adoration and kowtowing.

At the slightest whiff of his cologne, she begins to prance. The sound of his voice can still Puppy Dog into silence and complete obedience.

The glare from his blue eyes can exorcise Puppy Dog demons. It is almost cartoonish. Husband is lord and master. And I am, well, just the hired help.

Not happy with the two-tier treatment, I sought to change things, even though many friends and colleagues admitted to having observed similar behaviour in their dogs.

I felt I could assist with evolution, and show the canine world just how far women have advanced. That we can be alpha dog, alpha mom, alpha everything.

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I was advised to lower the tone of my voice and project a more manly aura.

I tried. I got a sore throat. And Puppy Dog appeared only to giggle at the stupidity of my efforts.

When behaving like a man didn't work, I tried to behave like a dog, as others had counselled.

I barked and growled to let her know I was alpha. But things got out of hand when I forgot to censor it, and strangers in the park saw me barking and snarling.

At myself, as it turns out: Puppy Dog had wandered away, presumably embarrassed and, in any case, unimpressed.

I admit that Puppy Dog's adulation for my husband drives me insane. It is completely illogical and unreasonable.

Can she not see who butters her bread, who controls the kibble?

While Puppy Dog has one master, she also has one love, the children. She is like Nana from Peter Pan. I sometimes think I should put a little duster on her head, and she would be a proper English nanny. Attentive, playful, possessive and, above all, vigilant. Puppy Dog might look like a giant teddy bear, but mess with her children and she'll tear you limb from limb. If I raise my voice at the children, she will bite me. If I hug them, she'll see it as an attack on her babies and separate us.

So why,

if I really am the household alpha, do I love Puppy Dog so fiercely and continue without (much) complaint to scoop the poop and cater to her needs?

Perhaps it is because on those brisk early mornings in the park, when it is just alpha Puppy Dog and alpha mom sharing a peaceful walk with that other notable alpha mom, Mother Nature, we both realize the whole alpha thing is just so overrated.

Puppy Dog decides that perhaps she could fetch that ball for me after all.

And oh, all right, perhaps I can live with Puppy Dog kissing up to my husband and shepherding the kids. She is awfully cute.

Oops, gotta go. There's a squirrel!

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