An open letter to my dog, who won’t come out from under the couch

An open letter to my dog, who won’t come out from under the couch

Nora, please. Come out from under the couch.

Dearest Nora,

It gives me no pleasure to write you this letter, especially in a forum as public as this one; however, your recent actions — and unwillingness to engage in meaningful dialogue regarding those actions — have left me no choice in the matter.

Now, let me be clear: it is a hard time right now. Stress, anxiety, and the impulsive behaviors that these feelings elicit are natural, healthy even. But it is a hard time for everyone, and your behavior, regardless of whether it is your preferred method of self-soothing during this trying moment, is having a negative impact on all members of this household. A negative impact, I might hazard, that if you took a step back and considered the situation as an outside observer might, outweighs whatever benefits that it might present to you.


I am speaking, of course, of your habit of scurrying under the couch and not coming out.

It’s not just you treating our couch like a doomsday bunker that is at issue here. It is also you being under the bed. And under that little end table in the den, which is admittedly less of a big deal than the couch and the bed, but while we’re on the subject, I might as well make mention of it. We have repeatedly made it clear that you may venture wherever you please in this house, and are even willing to work with the fact that you are a 16-pound Pomeranian-Shetland mix who lacks opposable thumbs by opening doors when you need them opened, feeding you when you need feeding, and rubbing your belly when you lay on your back and look at us longingly (in the gigantic dog bed that we bought for the other, bigger dog, mind you). I, personally, have gone so far as to pretend my socks — my clean, otherwise wearable socks! — are alive, shaking them around in front of you while making silly noises so that you can lunge at them like the ferocious beast that you believe yourself to be.

In return, you hide under various pieces of furniture. This is not an issue of your freedom of movement, as I have explained above. Instead, it is an issue of your attitude once you have indulged in these freedoms. You growl. You lunge. You swipe at our feet. Why? Because we have the temerity to place our feet in the hazy vicinity of the floor, in the hazy vicinity of your body. Keep in mind that we cannot see you in these moments. This, I suspect, is why you seek shelter in these dark and dusty corners of the house in the first place. Have confidence in your ability to not be seen! Use it as an opportunity to read on your iPad, groom yourself, or play with one of the many toys that you have dragged under the couch (and bed!) so that Percy, poor Percy, sweet Percy, Percy whose bed you have stolen because he fears you despite being three times your size, may not play with those toys himself. And while we are on the subject of Percy, please, have mercy upon him. He does not know when you are under the couch, and you peeking your snarling nose out from under the floral Ikea slipcover whenever he unwittingly approaches is going to give him a heart attack one of these days.


This is not a new problem, Nora. Weeks ago, we started leaving your leash attached to your harness even when you were inside because of this behavior. We can and will use it to pull you out from under the couch and/or bed, after which you return to being the dainty, loving, wonderful companion that you are. But there are times when you maneuver the leash so that it, too, slides out of reach, and you defend it as if it were your own flesh. And there are other times when we forget to reattach your leash after we’ve let you run around in the backyard, after which you rush to a nook and/or cranny from which you cannot be extracted. It is getting old.

Lord knows you have your reasons for acting like this. Dogs like spaces that are cool, dark, and compact, and those can certainly be found under the bed, and also under the couch. But you have a crate! A crate with a soft dog bed inside it, as well as water — and, more often than not, food. These are all things you like, and you like them as much as if not more than being in a space that is cool, dark, and compact (which, again, the crate is). And yet given the choice between being in crate or under couch, you choose the couch nine times out of 10. Why?

Please, Nora, help me help you. Are you social distancing? Perhaps you are unaware of the social distancing measures currently in place here. Do you need a haircut? If so, I bought some clippers off Amazon a while back and would be happy to use them to trim your fur if you promise not to get afraid of the noise they make and try to bite me. Are you sick? Perhaps you should stop eating so much grass when you go into the yard and stick to the food that we give you, twice, daily, in ample quantities. You may be bored, but guess what, we’re all bored these days. I am not nearly as stimulated as you are by going on a walk, no matter how long it is or interesting the view, simply because I do not view the neighborhood squirrels as a dire threat to our safety, and there are laws that prevent me from urinating in someone’s front yard every block or two. (Also: the Italian greyhound who lives around the corner is not your enemy; he’s even older and even smaller than you are and I think that if you two ever got to talking you might find you had a lot to learn from the guy.)

I hope that you have taken my words to heart, Nora, and that you sincerely consider the possibility that what you are doing is not in your best interests. I must now go find you and walk you around the block, because I suspect that your food has now digested and you might like to poop. Perhaps you will pleasantly surprise me when I go downstairs by being seated on the arm of the couch, peering out of the window for birds who may very well be making the grave mistake of sitting on a branch that’s a little too close to the house for your comfort. But if the past is any guide, I will be disappointed yet again.



P.S. — When I have approached you to discuss these matters previously, you have looked at me like this:


Please refrain from tugging on my heartstrings like this in the future.

P.P.S. — During the process of writing this open letter, I discovered a small amount of poop (dog) on the floor. Was this you? I know you are mad at me right now but I beg of you, do not poop on the floor, regardless of whether or not that floor is under the couch.