What Dogs Know About Staying In

Also: Survivor, Run, and What’s Making Us Happy

by Linda Holmes
Welcome! It was the week when Fiona Apple dropped a long-awaited album. It was the week when Punky Brewster made a long and considerably less-awaited return. And it was the week when we lost the great and indelible Brian Dennehy. Let’s get to it. 

Opening Argument: What Dogs Know About Staying In

I’ve learned a lot from my dog over the last couple of years that he’s been with me. And I’ve written before about how games helped me understand how his mind works

But we’ve now been staying in together for close to six weeks, and I’ve learned a lot from him. And though I’m not sure it counts as a pop culture topic, nothing is more cultural than our relationship with pets, so here goes. 

1. Get your rest. 

Trainers and vets have told me that dogs like mine sleep something like 18 hours a day. (This varies from dog to dog.) This means I have a lot of time to watch Brian sleep. And he sleeps like he means it, and he doesn’t care who knows it. Feet in the air, face in a couch pillow, tangled (very long) legs twitching, he sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. Sometimes he’s up in the morning early and full of energy, but more often he gets up, goes out, comes back inside, and hops up on the couch to … sleep some more. He sleeps as long as he sleeps. He has no schedule except "sometimes I’m tired, and sometimes I’m not." 

2. Get outside. 

I don’t fully understand why it helps him so much to take a half-hour walk through our very quiet neighborhood, but it changes the shape of his entire day. He’s calmer, he’s happier, and he’s less anxious. And honestly, as somebody whose moods can be a little touchy, I don’t know that I’d reliably get out of the house to walk around without him. I get a little sunshine, I wave at my neighbors who are working in their yards, and it helps us both. 

3.  Do not trust squirrels. 

He feels this so deeply, at the base of his being, that I feel there must be some value in it for me. When he sees a squirrel, he freezes and watches it for a minute, verifying its squirrel-ness, then he lunges and barks. Usually, that is. A lot of work has gotten him to the point where he can tolerate a squirrel or two without freaking out, but by the time he sees the third one, it’s very much "WHAT ARE THESE GUYS AND CAN I EAT ONE?" So perhaps that’s the lesson for me: little by little, try to make your anxiety triggers less potent, and don’t expect perfection. 

4. Or cats. 

Same. But worse. 

5. Sometimes you just have to get it out. 

Brian is part greyhound, which means he is very fast. From time to time, when I go out in my yard to bring him inside, he instead takes off at top speed, making circles around the yard, up the hill and back down the hill, weaving figure eights around trees and making shhk-shhk-shhk noises in the dry leaves on the ground. And then one of those circles ends with him running into the house, where he sits down politely on his behind and waits for a treat. And then, more often than not, he lies down for — you guessed it — more sleep. Sometimes, he just has to expend some energy, blow off some steam, and then he’s fine. And I can’t make him do it, and I don’t always know when he’ll need to do it. He just does it when he needs to. 

6. Don’t underestimate contact. 

At least once a day, he makes sure that he lies down directly on me, with his chin on my knee or his whole body curled up against my hip. He doesn’t need it all the time, but he needs it some of the time. Whatever contact means right now — phone calls, FaceTime, or snuggles if you’re lucky enough to have company — it can do a lot to settle the nerves. 

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We Recommend:

I’ll have a full review on NPR this weekend, but if you like basketball or ever cared about the mega-phenomenon of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, you might really like The Last Dance, an epic miniseries bowing on ESPN on Sunday night that covers the history of the team that won six NBA championships in eight years in the 1990s.  

I feel I should remind you that like the U.S. Postal Service, the Hallmark romance machine is incredibly resilient and easy to take for granted until that moment when you really need it. (I mean, you will need the U.S. Postal Service in much more important ways, but you see my point.) They’re continuing to put out new love stories for the time being, and they’re right in the middle of a Spring Fever event that continues Saturday night with Nature of Love, which is about glamping (…naturally). I will be checking it out. 

A couple finales of note: Will & Grace ends for the second time on Thursday night, April 23. While I haven’t been following its most recent incarnation, I spent a decent number of happy hours with Will, Grace, Jack and Karen, and I know they’ll be missed. Empire is ending too, on Wednesday. It’s been a while since I caught up with it, but in those early days, boy did I like that show. 

What We Did This Week:

Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment
On our Wednesday show, Stephen and I hashed out some of our many, many opinions about Survivor, which is currently in its 40th — yes, 40th — season. 

On our Friday show, just because we care, we brought back our Regrettable Television Pop Quiz segment, and I think Stephen brought the most regrettable piece of TV by far. 

I wrestled with my feelings about Hulu’s Mrs. America, which features a marvelous cast doing marvelous work in a show I had a hard time sitting through. 

Glen reviewed HBO’s Run, which we’ll be covering on the show next week, and which I really like. So check it out? 

Stephen appeared on NPR Music’s New Music Friday, which covers a lot of territory, including that Fiona Apple record

What’s Making Us Happy:

Every week on the show, we talk about some other things out in the world that have been giving us joy lately. Here they are:
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