Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dogs Are People, Too

“Husband?” I cried (though I used his real name).

Yes?” he said from the other room.

“There’s something in here.

Well, what is it?

“I don’t know. I can’t make it out. Please come in here and help.

Whatever it was, I’d never seen one before and it looked dead. Or maybe almost dead. Either way, I couldn’t bear to see it up close. I was imagining how it managed to sneak into our home and why it died (was dying) on the Persian rug next to our front door.

My husband came into the room, eyeing the mysterious clump. “Looks like a leaf. Probably came in with you a
nd the pooch after your walk.”

He toed it lightly before bending down for a closer look. “No-ooo. This is a bone. Or what’s left of one.”

A bone?! We both turned to stare at the culprit, who looked back at us from one of her many beds—a look that said “Hunh? Is there a problem?”

It’s been a long, long time since the pooch pilfered anything from the trash. On the other hand, its probably been a long, long time since we put anything in there that she wanted.

But I wonder if this is another sign of her aging process. Or if—because none of us has a job to go to and we
re three peas in a pod of four walls, day in and day out—she has decided she’s one of us and entitled to everything we have and do.

Recently the pooch was thrilled when a former colleague of mine visited with two of her young children. For the occasion, I bought a special cookie for the 2ish-aged girl: a large round butter cookie glazed in pastel pink with a white smiley face on it and a three-dimensional white daisy
hair adornment.” The tyke loved it at first sight. I set her up with the cookie at our coffee table and then stepped away to get a plate of baked goods for her mother.

But when I returned, the pooch stood in place of the tyke and, with her giraffe-length tongue, was taking one long lick across that smiley face.

“I thought that was MY cookie?” the tyke said to me, as if Id done a bait-and-switch on her.

It was! I assured her and apologized for the poochs behavior.

The pooch, meanwhile, looked a bit sheepish.
Im sorry,” she seemed to be communicating. I know I should have waited for everyone to be served. But I was just tasting it, after all—not eating it!

Whose etiquette playbook was the pooch following these days? Patricia McConnell’s or Emily Post’s?

Perhaps Ive given her one too many senior passes” on her behavior. Perhaps, like the unemployed creatures who share space with her, she needs help with her identity; she needs more structure to help her make sense of her day and her existence.

Ah, the ripple effect of a bad economy. Even a cookie—now rendered inedible for both dog and child—isn
t immune from the consequences. But like the cookie, we try to keep smiling.

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