The Queen B uses a technique called Love and Logic to
psychologically manipulate empower the Butterfly to make good decisions. I have watched it enough to have some sense of how it’s done. For example, suppose it is time for the Butterfly to go to bed because either (a) it’s almost 8 o’clock and she needs her sleep or (b) it’s the seventeenth time she’s rolled her eyes and stomped out of the room and her parents need her sleep. Rather than simply assert “Go to bed!” to the child and deal with the arguing, negotiating, or crying that invariably comes after, the Queen B uses a two-prong technique to “guide” the Butterfly to the right decision.
The first step is what I call “Buttering her up,” in which the Queen B gets the Butterfly excited about something… something that will arise as a consequence of going to bed. For example:
Queen B: Oh my gosh! Tomorrow do you want to help me make hard-boiled eggs!
Butterfly: Awesome! I can’t wait.
This provides a segue into the task at hand
Queen B: Me either. But that’s something we need to do tomorrow, and I’m going to need you awake and alert to help me in the kitchen, so I guess that means you’ll need to go get some sleep soon.
Butterfly: But… but… but
Now that the trap has been sprung, the Queen B moves to the second step: the “Sucker’s Choice.” That is, she offers the Butterfly a choice of actions, both cleverly designed give the Butterfly a sense of control but which have absolutely no effect on the actual outcome of events:
Queen B: I’ll tell you what. I let you stay up a little bit longer, but then you have to go to sleep.
Butterfly: Oooo… okay.
Queen B: Would you like to stay up for five more minutes… or SIX more minutes?
Butterfly: SIX MORE MINUTES!
Queen B: Sounds good. We’ll go to bed in six minutes.
Six minutes later, the Butterfly is in bed and almost asleep before she realizes she’s been played.
Which brings me to a week prior to Valentine’s Day, when the Queen B sent me a text:
I knew something was up, and I let her know.
“It’s not a trap, I swear,” she texted back. Then she spent the next seven days asking me a questions…
If you had a pet, would you want a sweet, likeable dog, or a mean, evil cat?
If you had a dog, would you want an outside dog or a hypoallergenic inside dog?
If you had a inside dog, would you want a medium-sized dog or a small-sized dog?
If you had a medium-sized indoor dog, would you want dark fur or light fur?
If you had a medium-sized, dark-furred indoor dog, would you want a puppy or an older dog?
If we were going to pick up a medium-sized, dark-furred indoor puppy right now, would you want it to sit in the front seat or the back seat?
It wasn’t until we were driving back to Rapid City with a medium-sized, dark-furred indoor puppy seated between the Ladybug and the Butterfly that I realized my wife had just Love-and-Logicked me into getting a dog.
Without further ado, meet the newest member of the Komplexify clan, our dog Cauchy.
So why call him Cauchy?
Because he leaves a residue around every pole! [ Rimshot! ]
Cauchy is a 3-month-old puppy who weighs about 2 pounds, most of that being a coat of soft but thick brown-black fur. The dog breeder said that we should expect him to grow to “medium-sized” 25 pounds, although the vet we took him to afterwards politely suggested that this estimate was off by an order of magnitude. Said differently, Cauchy will always look like a wire frame to which someone added back wool.
The dog is cute, almost irritatingly so. It doesn’t hurt his overall “cutesy” factor that his breed is something called a Labradoodle, a portmanteau that is supposed to communicate the fact that the dog is a crossbreed between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle, but in actuality merely sounds like a three-year-old’s description of dog urine. In fact, Cauchy is a crossbreed between a Labradoodle and a Poodle, which I suppose technically makes him a Labradoodleoodle and, consequently, Ned Flander’s dog.
I’ve been trying to come up with a less infantile-sounding name with which to describe Cauchy. I thought Poodrador had a fierce, vaguely Spanish-explorer-y sound to it, until the Butterfly cheerily noted that this required saying Poo first and promptly cracked up. I shant even go down the rabbit hole into which Poobrador leads. I have since decided to simply refer to Cauchy’s breed as Mutt.
Personality-wise, Cauchy is very much a puppy. He only likes to do three things: bite, eat, and pee, although not necessarily in that order. We wanted to prevent the dog from both chewing up and eliminating in our house, so to help him to ignore the carpet we got him food to eat, toys to chew on, potty-pads to pee on. Unfortunately, whatever software Cauchy runs on has an Off-By-One error in it, because at run-time the dog invariably ignores the food, eats the toys, chews on the potty-pads, and pees on the carpet.
Cauchy is also remarkably hyper, to the point that when he gets too excited he quite literally stops existing in ordinary space-time and instead becomes a quantum distribution of fur and puppy teeth distributed across the current room. He also can be in the process of peeing in any instant at which it is not being unobserved. What I’m saying is that when it came time to choose an animal to exemplify quantum counter-weirdness, Erwin Schrödinger picked the wrong one.
While Cauchy can be (and is) out and about while the family is home, during the school hours he is corralled in a largish dog pen in our kid’s playroom, partly to keep him from hurting himself, but mostly to keep him from turning our house into a composter. The Queen B and I set up an octagonal corral lined by metal fencing and equipped with both a cozy pillowed kennel for naptime and a waterproofed tarp flooring for craptime. When we left for school on Monday morning, we placed him in his kennel with food and toys; when we returned home Monday afternoon, we found Cauchy waiting impatiently for us in the kitchen sitting in a puddle of his own labdradiddle. Apparently, he took his six hours of unsupervised free time to teach himself how to pull his barely-foot-long canine self up and over the two-foot-tall corral fence. Indeed, he taught himself so well that when we placed him in the corral that evening to see how he did it, he obliged… in just under two minutes.
Over the next two weeks, the dog and I engaged in an incarceration arms race, with me trying to find ways to make his corral escape-proof and he trying to Andy-Dufresne his way out to freedom. In fact, he escaped so often that we considered changing his name from Cauchy to Hairy Houndini.
I tried putting chicken wire around the fence to prevent him from getting his paws in-between the rungs of the fence; he learned to climb with just his claws like a poochified Peter Parker. I tried building an inverted “sneeze guard” along the top of the fence to prevent him from getting his paws over it; he learned to climb with this teeth. I put in an alligator-filled moat around the corral; he learned to swim and alligator-wrestle. I replaced the original 2-foot-tall fence with a four-foot-tall one; he built a grappling hook out of some rope and chew toy and scaled his ass up. We’ve currently reached an impasse: his corral now has four-foot-high walls covered with a tough but flexible plastic netting for which Cauchy has yet to devise an counter strategy, although he does seem to spend a lot of time with that Reta Hayworth poster he asked to be hung up in his kennel….
I think the prison time has hardened Cauchy too. The last time he escaped, he straight-up murdered our robot vacuum MO with a shiv he’d whittled out of a piece of bone. Okay, in point of fact, he only chewed through MO’s power cord, but still…. cold… blooded… murder.
Welcome to the family, dog. Please don’t kill us all in our sleep.