New tricks for an old dog

We don’t have a dog because it was determined that my husband was allergic to them as a child. Although he seems to tolerate dogs pretty well in short doses, it would be heartbreaking to have to put a dog that had been in our home as a pet up for adoption if my husband couldn’t tolerate one long term.

So we make do with visits from my niece’s French Bulldog, Braxton. It happens that Braxton is visiting us for the long weekend because his parents are in Mexico.

Even in families, it’s not a good idea to speak in depth about politics or religion. Although large swathes of the family tend to be affiliated with the family political party or religion, there’s always that one or two that leave the fold, black sheep-style, or marry outside of the tradition.

This is also true of team allegiances. Fortunately, there are few particular team allegiances among my family members in Premier League Football. Besides my immediate family, all Arsenal fans, my sibling’s families and my extended family don’t really follow the sport.

There is one exception: Braxton’s father is a Chelsea fan.

Normally, I don’t believe in Conversion Therapy. But as I watched Braxton over the weekend, it occurred to me that he seemed a bit uptight. Yes, I’ll allow that he was missing his parents. And was suddenly living in a home that, while not strange to Braxton, is not his home. But when I tried to take him for a walk yesterday and he got caught up in an endless loop of walking from the front door around the house to the back door, I realized that he was in emotional trouble.

Then I remembered his behavior as we’d been watching the Saturday football matches, and I started to put two and two together. It made 100. He’d become notably comfortable when I switched from watching the Man City match (too much Man City success to get proper enjoyment) to watching the Chelsea match. And then he’d become uncomfortable when I cheered for Everton’s winning goal at 90 minutes. And he stayed uncomfortable while I yelled at the TV for the referee to blow the whistle that didn’t come until after Chelsea scored a tying goal, long after the 7 minutes of planned extra time had expired. Scored by John Terry from an offside position. Now that Mourinho’s gone, John Terry is the best representative of everything wrong with Chelsea. Braxton should have been saying “right on, Aunt Amy, that whistle should have blown.” But instead he was trying to be inconspicuous in his ill-gotten happiness.

I have tried to convert someone only once. When my nephew was a baby, I felt it was time to convert him from a milk drinker to a chocolate eater and I offered him some hot fudge sauce. In retrospect, my nephew’s brain would probably have been completely rewired in the only awesome way possible from a taste of hot fudge sauce, if only I hadn’t been stopped by the shouts from his mother, my sister. My nephew is a great person, but imagine Awesome x 1,000 after fudge sauce.

It is one of my great regrets.

I’ll admit I was young and stupid when I tried that. Now that I’m much older, it seemed a good time to try again. And this time it was obvious that I’d be delivering a needed service. Poor Braxton had clearly sat through one too many Chelsea matches with the wrong emotions on display from my nephew-in-law. He would be a changed animal as an Arsenal fan.

I began by trying to teach him the proper associations for Chelsea and Arsenal.

This is how Chelsea feels, I taught him:

chelsea is cold
Chelsea: Icy cold with a prison fence shadow cast on it.


And Arsenal feels like this:

braxton bed
Arsenal is like a warm, comfy bed.

I had to leave for church before the Arsenal match started this morning but I left the match on TV for Braxton to continue his conversion without me. When I got back with much of the match left to be played, I could see I’d made some progress. Braxton seemed completely at ease as an Arsenal fan.

braxton in scarf

And when I took him for a walk, he was again willing to walk from the front door to the back door and back again. And then he went the distance: two houses away and back.

It was an improvement, but I see I have more indoctrination to do.

Speaking of old dogs learning new tricks, Arsenal came away from Stoke today again without a win, just like old times. But at least this year it was a 0-0 tie, an improvement over last year. We stay in first place, again on goal difference. Leicester City stays in second and Man City in third.

Considering our injury troubles, it’s not a terrible result, although there were a few worrying performances. We just have to kick on when we have a few key folks back, hopefully next weekend.

We play Chelsea.

Niece, I’ll be at your house at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday to pick up Braxton. Assuming your husband lets me in.


3 thoughts on “New tricks for an old dog

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