It’s official. I’m not going to win a Grandma of the Year award any time soon. I might, however, be in the running for the coveted Owned Human of the Year trophy. In case you haven’t seen it, you’ll want to know it’s a crystal dog bowl perched on a dog bone shaped pedestal.

We’re currently visiting relatives out of state for Christmas and it didn’t take long to start tallying up the votes on the dog versus grandchildren list. Don’t get me wrong. I love my grandchildren. They are the most gorgeous, smartest, and precocious boys ever dropped down from heaven. One is seven-years-old, the other ten months. Clue number one came when I reached for my phone while lunching with a friend.

The first picture I showed her, well, the first few, okay, dozen, was of Coconut. Of course, each picture came with a story. Then came the house photos and descriptions about the house, where I bought this and that, where Coconut slept or napped in each room, the fence he used to jump because he’s part deer, and other details. Finally came candid shots of my grandsons. A few shots. Okay, one each. In my defense, my friend is not a grandmother but she is a total dog lover and she loves old houses and decorating.

Then came the unwrapping of the Christmas gifts from my mother-in-law. Nothing for my grandsons, she’s not their grandmother so that makes sense, but there was a package for Coconut. She explained that because I talk about him all the time on Facebook and when calling that she felt compelled to buy him a gift. He received an L.L. Bean coat he will likely never wear because he hates being wrestled into anything. The coat cost more than the flannel PJ bottoms I got. For the record, I’m keeping neither but if I had to make a choice the doggy coat would stay just because it’s so cute. It’s also better made than most anything in my closet.

My friend could not believe it when I told her the dog sleeps in our room and each and every night I get on the floor next to his bed. I cover him with his blanket, stroke him, tell him how much I love him, check his eyes, teeth, and all four paws. As if that’s not enough, I lift his ear and whisper a secret that I warn him he can’t tell anyone else. Including my husband. Trust me, his bedtime routine is longer than the ones I did with my own children. I also have no recent pictures of my own sons on my phone.

Feeling rather curious and disbelieving that I had turned into one of those people, I did a Facebook search and discovered that my Coconut posts outnumber those about grandkids, husbands, and pretty much everything in my life by about twenty to one.

This got me thinking about the NEW PAWS dog Christmas pictures people posted for our blog. Oh, dear. The good news is that I am so not the only dog-owned person I know. These are some seriously spoiled dogs by the looks of the costumes, Santa sitting fees, toys, beds, clothing, and more.

I did a little Facebook poll about signs that our dogs own us and not the other way around. Trust me, there’s a lot of competition for the crystal dog bowl trophy this year. So, here they are, in no particular order, signs that you are so owned by your dog. They know it. And you know what? The longer they live with us the more we love being owned.

1. Photos, photos, photos!

2. I, and maybe you, shop incessantly for the perfect bone and we spend way more on bones than we do on dog food.

3. That suspicious mole on my husband’s back? We saw the vet three times about dog issues before we saw the dermatologist. We spent way more at the vet. The good news is that both doggy and hubby are both fine.

4. Per ounce, our dogs eat healthier than we do and their food cost more.

5. Some of us, not me, feel awful if our dog has to sleep in a crate or on a teeny little bed on the floor. You let your dog sleep with you and take up three-quarters of the bed. And the other adult-sized human being who shares that bed doesn’t complain.

6. If the Internet pictures are any indication, people spend more on beautifully pet gifts for anyone else in the house. And they get stockings filled with even more gifts.

7. I’m so guilty of not shopping or eating where my dog is not allowed. What do you mean service dogs only? Yeah, so long. I’ll find another place to spend my money.

8. You find out if prospective new people in your life are dog people. This includes possible people to date. If your dog growls, barks, or shows they don’t like those people then, too bad. There are other people out there but, hey, this is my dog we’re talking about.

9. Your dog has their own blog and hashtag and is active on every social media site possible.

10. Your dog makes you exercise every single day, on schedule, when BD, that’s Before Dog for those of you not familiar with the lingo, even the increasing upward numbers on the scale could not get you off the couch. And you do it in every type of weather!

11. You spend a ridiculous amount of money on dog sweaters, coats, dresses, booties, hair ties, and outfits for every occasion.

12. You talk to your dog more than you talk to your spouse, significant other, children, grandkids, co-workers, or neighbors. And you are convinced they listen and that by talking it through with them you find better answers than by discussing it with the aforementioned others.

13. You get up hours before you need or want to on weekends because your dog has decided that 6:00 am is the time to rise and shine. Even when the clocks change. And you agree.

14. Super high on my list of knowing that my dog owns me is that I let him kiss me on the mouth. Sometimes in.

After I figured out that I’m owned by my dog, as are most of you and my friends, I had an epiphany. Our rescue dogs have gone through more than many of us could ever believe. By the time they are surrendered or found and brought to the Kentucky shelter, they have been starved, hunted, left in inclement weather, and other things we can’t imagine. When they finally go through being prodded and given shots and surgery, transported all the way to Oshkosh, lived in yet another shelter, and then, against all odds, found their new person and home, well, they are grateful. We are owned by our dogs because we can do no less in the face of such unconditional love and genuine gratefulness.

Any other ways you are owned by your dog? Anyone else already got their dress or tux ready for the upcoming Owned Human of the Year awards banquet? Yeah, me neither. After all my dog expenses I can’t afford the dress or the airfare and hotel for the event. And my dog isn’t allowed.