Pavlov's Dog

George loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m sure of it. I have been working my way through the complete box set and every time the theme music plays, George bounds into the living room barking and spitting so violently that his front paws lift off the floor. He bares his teeth and continues to bark and spit until the last guitar stroke fades. And while the casual observer may interpret his behavior as a sign of deep hatred for the show, George’s stubby black and white tail wags during this display. A sure sign of dog happiness and it is completely my fault.

Once upon a time, George had no opinion of Buffy. He did not concern himself with vampires either. He would sleep soundly in his bed while I indulged in my guilty pleasure of watching a TV show from beginning to end. Somewhere in the middle of Season One, I started doing a crazy dance to the rocking guitar music that signaled the start of the show. George did not approve of the crazy dance and barked madly at me. Around the start of Season Two, as soon as the theme music started, I called out softly, “George….” and he would leap into the living room, barking and snarling until the music stopped. During the middle of Season Three, as soon as the music started, George would rush into the living room and sit in front of me, barking along with the music.

I realized that I had recreated my own version of Pavlov’s Dog from Psychology 101. I also discovered that I had created a nuisance by conditioning my dog. No longer did I need to do a crazy arm-waving, fist pumping Buffy the Vampire Slayer dance around my living room (which George would still express his disapproval over), all I needed to do was watch an episode and the barking would commence. I know that I could skip the introduction or even press mute, but this is my special time with George. He is the sole canine companion that joins in the quick dance-a-thon with such enthusiasm and its all because of Buffy.

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