In general, I have a fairly positive outlook on life. But I’m not blind to injustice. And there is a grave one that I am suffering in my own home these days. In spite of all my time and energy devoted to our new puppy, he prefers to snuggle in my husband’s lap, not mine.

We have dogs because I love them and so it’s my responsibility to care for them. I take Holmes to training, practice our training homework, feed him, potty-train him, clean up after him, brush his teeth, clip his nails, take him to the vet and give him baths. My husband Joe likes to throw toys for the dogs to chase. He also comes to the dog park with us.

Holmes and I have a lot in common. We both like to go on walks regardless of the weather. We enjoy chasing tennis balls. We wake up hungry and ready for breakfast. In fact, we are both motivated by the promise of good food. We love peanut butter. His hair is short, wavy and dries quickly, just like mine. Holmes’ eyelashes are white and mine are almost white. Holmes has great focus and mine is pretty good too.

Holmes and I make a great pair. Except in the evening, he wants to curl up in Joe’s lap, not mine.

A Day with Holmes

 5:45 a.m. My alarm wakes me up early so I have time to take care of the dogs before a 7 a.m. call. I let the dogs out of their crates, take them outside, feed them, and then take them outside again. I do my best not to wake Joe.

Holmes and I then go for a walk in the dark and work on this week’s training assignments. With his prong collar and choke chain, he looks like Mr. T from the ’80s. He’s getting good at heeling, staying, and coming when called. He is learning to look at me and pay attention to what I say because he loves earning treats.

On our early walks, we run into other dogs and their owners. I make him sit, ignore the dogs and watch me. After they pass us, he prances and smiles as I reward him. We saunter by construction workers and loud equipment. He learns to stay, even when he sees something interesting, like a bird or a piece of garbage. As we explore the neighborhood, the sun rises. We return home at 7 a.m. and we’ve already had an adventure.

An early morning walk / training session.

Back home, Joe has started his day and says, “Good Morning,” to the dogs, rubs their necks, and chats with me. He then gets busy at his desk.

From morning until mid-afternoon, Holmes hangs out with me in my office or in his crate. I take him out regularly and take him on a mini-walk at noon.

Sleeping while I work.

3:30 p.m. Joe and I take the dogs to the dog park. Holmes likes to wrestle with any puppy that’s willing, even the really big ones. As Holmes went after a dog three times his size today, its dog owner called him a “demon.” Did she mean that in a good way?

5 p.m. I feed the dogs and take them outside for a bathroom break.

7:30 p.m. Joe and I settle in to watch a TV show. This is the time I’ve been waiting for all day. I want Holmes to snuggle or sleep in my lap. This will be my reward for all of my time and attention. But night after night, he meanders to Joe’s lap and sprawls all over it.

Holmes in Joe’s lap. It’s just not right.

I Liked Needy

 My previous dog, Henry, was a true terrier, massively energetic and high strung. Most everyone thought he was more trouble than he was worth, despite my best efforts to rein him in. However, his craziness was matched only by his adoration of me. If I was sitting in a chair, Henry was sleeping in my lap. If I was reading on the sofa, he was snoozing on my stomach. I even got a rash from all of our contact. Some experts said he was needy. I guess I like that in a dog.

Joe didn’t care much for Henry and complained about him a lot, both jokingly and seriously. Henry didn’t give Joe the time of day. He only had eyes for me.

But Henry passed away last spring when he was only 4 years old from cancer.

Hardwired for Men

A few months after that, we decided to get a new puppy. I did a lot of research and found an excellent breeder of Russel Terriers in Virginia, Dob Branch Farm.

I flew to Virginia and met Holmes when he was 5 months old. Holmes was living with one of his breeders, who was male. He spent his early months with him and loved him.

Holmes and his first love, Frank Zureick.

Those early weeks apparently made an impact. Despite all of my caretaking and treat giving, Holmes prefers Joe’s lap to mine. While I certainly have a high opinion of Joe, I suspect Holmes gravitates to him because he’s male.

And the thing is, Joe doesn’t even really like dogs! He’s more of a cat person. And Holmes is a man dog.

Will Time Heal this Wound?

Oh well. I tell myself that the more Joe likes Holmes, the more he will help take care of him. And unlike with Henry, Joe will happily care for Holmes when I’m out of town.

However, this is also a reminder that Holmes is his own dog with his own preferences. Every dog is different. Holmes is not, and won’t be, Henry.

Holmes may eventually realize that my lap is a pretty great place to sleep too. As he gets older, he might become more affectionate. He especially may want to sleep in my lap if Joe was out of town.

Now there’s an idea. Hey Joe, do you have a guys trip coming up? Holmes and I have some training to do in the evening. But we can only do it if your lap is not available.