Humor by Jen Lancaster

Somehow I've become a full-fledged adult.

I have no idea how this happened.

Feels like only yesterday I was rolling in at 4 a.m. after Dollar Beer Night, or rather, Dollar Beer Afternoon. Yet now I find myself with a mortgage, four types of insurance and a retirement account consisting of more than pitcher of laundry quarters. I don't own a single stick of garbage-picked furniture anymore and my shelves are made of wood, not milk crates.

Despite my best efforts, I've managed to grow up. Matter of fact, I'm so grown up that I'm experiencing the existential angst of having done so. Fortunately, the solution to my midlife crisis is soft, sweet, and cuddly with a pink belly, so my husband and I are adopting . . . a pit bull puppy.

Recently we contacted a rescue agency that brought over a fine adoption candidate. We met and instantly loved an adolescent, energetic golden boy with an enormous head. He adored us, too. Everyone was on board with the adoption . . . except for the two spoiled, surly middle-aged dogs who live here.

Let's just say they were less than hospitable.

That's when I realized I wasn't the only one desperate for maturity.

We adopted our pit bull Maisy and shepherd Loki eight shoe-shredded, carpet-stained years ago. They went through rudimentary obedience training as puppies, but they've long since forgotten their manners.

The problem is we set the behavior bar terribly low. We wanted two sweet dogs who'd coexist with our miserable cats and who'd be friendly toward guests, and, oh, boy, are they friendly! They'll knock you over with the brute force of their love.

Or they used to, back when people would still visit.

Once we achieved those goals, we never pushed them any harder and we wound up with two willful dogs who'd tell us in no uncertain terms when they were ready to eat, to potty and to be entertained. If we were very lucky, they'd make a tiny bit of room on the bed so we could sleep with them.

Apparently this was bad.

Perhaps when our friends would say stuff like, "You should really read Cesar Millan's books," or "No, seriously, please watch 'The Dog Whisperer,'" or "Thank God you don't have kids" we should have taken the hint.

But now I'm finally grown up enough to realize we must break the cycle. so we've forgone adoption while we bring Maisy and Loki in line. We've enlisted them in a doggie boot camp, which is as much for us as it is for them.

Despite acting like their pronged training collars were killing them dead, splat, the first time we attached them, they've quickly come around. In a few sessions, they now comprehend that everyone wins when they obey our cues. And we learned we don't have to be Cesar himself to take control of our pets.

Our old dogs, who'd grown accustomed to receiving fork-based bites of whatever I was eating (kind of a trick, I'd rationalize) now do real tricks for their treats; their days of being served on silverware are over.

The dogs are much happier since we've taken charge. Through the training process, they've discovered not only that no squirrel tastes as good as discipline feels, but it's easier to do what's expected because ultimately the rewards are greater.

Hey, that might explain why I finally grew up, too.

We're so pleased with their progress that we'll all be ready for a puppy shortly. We'll start working with her immediately so she'll grow up understanding expectations and won't ever get stuck in a state of arrested development.

Now if I could only train our middle-aged kitties not to barf in my shoes.

Then again, there's a reason no one calls themselves "The Cat Whisperer."

Jen Lancaster is author of Such a Pretty Fat, Pretty in Plaid, Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is t he New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto.

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