Thank you for entrusting your puppy to One Dog At A Time. Many people adopted a pandemic puppy to lift their spirits, only to learn a new pup can be a lot of work. We’re confident these past two weeks of our proprietary obedience training will set you (and your pup) up for success.

Your pup, TUGBOAT, did great with our program and should now be able to obey the following ten basic commands:

1. “Let’s Go” = Move in same direction as me, turn when I turn, staying close.

2. “Heel” = Travel beside me, nose at or behind my knee.

3. “Distract Me from Grim Reaper and His Gleaming Scythe” = Do something charming and adorable (i.e., get muzzle stuck in fuzzy slipper; “Who’s a little slipper-face?!”) to momentarily make me forget that Death is all around me, closing in on all sides, remorseless and inescapable…

(NOTE: Your dog will automatically perform this command whenever it overhears a news report about COVID, climate change, or literally any episode of The Daily.)

4. “Shame Irresponsible Visitor” = If a neighbor or relative shows up unannounced and maskless, utter this command and your dog will go to a pre-chosen drawer, open it, use its paws to fit an N-95 mask snugly over its mouth and nose, then turn around to level a flat, accusing stare at the offender, as if to say, “Hey, look, Uncle Dennis, I’m smarter and more considerate than you… and I’m a fucking dog.”

5. “Acknowledge Difficulty of Past Year and a Half” = Whenever you spontaneously begin to sob, your dog will now approach you, rub your shoulder soothingly with its paw and vocalize the words, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

(NOTE: Dog will repeat the phrase until you release her by saying, “I’m enough.” Results may vary as to dog’s phonetic accuracy, but we ask that you accept basic gist of what dog is saying here.)

6. “Save Relationship” = Adding another being with its own needs and demands into your struggling relationship is a surefire way to fix all pre-existing problems, replacing with 100 percent success the hard emotional work you’ve both been avoiding.

(NOTE: We apologize for the sarcasm here, but do you see how ridiculous this sounds? Ask yourself: Did I get this dog for the right reasons? Now think about if, instead of a dog, it was a baby. That’s right—a human baby. Look, whatever scar you’re trying to heal by getting this dog, it’s not the dog’s job to heal it. It’s yours, and yours alone.)

7. “Help Me Pretend It’s a Normal Saturday Night” = At this command, your dog will take its place behind a rudimentary “bar” (any countertop will suffice) and is now trained to mix 5 Basic Cocktails. (1. Gin & Tonic, 2. Manhattan, 3. Rum & Coke, 4. Vodka Cran, 5. Dry Martini, slightly dirty); your dog will listen as you vent about work stuff with a dish towel slung adorably over its shoulder, nodding sympathetically. To increase verisimilitude, your dog will pour next round only if paid with treats; it can also keep a running “treat tab” to be paid at end of night.

8. “Make My Kids Happier/Less Anxious” = Getting a dog takes all the pressure off you to be a competent, engaged parent; your pup will now do that for you, as a kind of “emotional antidote” to the weight and stress of this pandemic year.

(NOTE: Sorry for the sarcasm again, but you get it, right? It’s your job to hear your child, even if what you’re hearing scares you… especially then. How can you expect to parent your child if you’re still a broken child yourself, stuck in the wounds of the past?)

9. “Lie Down and Roll Over” = We have trained your dog to proudly defy this command (and so should you in both your career and personal life!).

10. “Remind Me It’s All Worth It in the End” = Your puppy’s new i-Collar (included in price of training) is outfitted with a camera that records your every interaction. At this command, your pup will pair its collar with your TV or laptop and play you a touching, Pixar-esque montage of the sweetest, silliest, and ultimately most life-affirming moments you’ve shared together, all set to the music of your choosing (default song: “Fix You” by Coldplay). Feel free to use this command on a rainy Monday or any time you’re having a case of the “blahs.”

(PLEASE NOTE: One Dog At A Time will close our doors for good on September 1. We will reopen anew on October 15 as One You At A Time, a professional life-coaching practice, because let’s be real: it ain’t the dogs who need our help.)

(FINAL NOTE: No pets allowed in new offices.)