Dogs are acutely aware when company is coming. Especially ‘non-dog’ company.
If you live with dogs and have ‘dogless’ friends you’ll understand what I mean.
You are lulled into quiet complacency while they pretend to nap as you wipe down the stove, make a few appetizers, and shake out the throw rugs. Even when you pick up the box of books that lives on your dining room table and chuck it into the spare bedroom, they lie in wait, eyes closed.
My sneaky dogs are no different. Anyone who knows Chesapeake Retrievers knows that they are often ‘over the top’ clowns, who are every bit as smart as most people’s toddlers and exponentially more prone to trouble.
Nervous Dog is always on alert. She’s high-strung, loving, thinks the vacuum cleaner is an alien life form here to abduct her and she has a sensitive stomach. She appears to be related to the Yao tribe of southern Malawi, who feel a camera lens pointed at them steals their soul. Comic Dog is always happy. She invents games to engage others in play, even if this means stealing the bills off my desk and gleefully running through the house growling. She thinks food is the best part of life, right behind play in her doggie order of the universe.
This day began benignly enough – I was looking forward to a visit from Bay Area friends who are purposely dogless and childless. They don’t sit on dog toys that leave oddly shaped bruises on their nether regions that look mysteriously like crop circles. They don’t spend hours chasing dog fur tumbleweeds out from behind furniture only to give up and name them as part of the family. They actually take vacations without worrying every moment that their fur-child might be pining away in depressed starvation while they are having fun.
Did I mention that dogs know when company is coming? Mine appeared nearly comatose on the couch, leaving behind as much of their curly-dense undercoat as possible. Suddenly, they both leaped to attention. Could it be? A new human victim to drool on, rub against and crotch-sniff joyfully as I try to remind them they have advanced Obedience titles and good manners.
Because these were not mere visitors, but ‘dogless’ visitors, simply awaiting their entrance was clearly not sufficient. Nervous Dog, noticing that our guests were beginning their ascent up the stairs, promptly barfed on the thick cream-colored shag throw rug. Had I really fed her that much?
Comic Dog watched with rapt attention. Had food really just magically appeared? It. Was. FOOD!
Comic Dog wasted no time. She drooled momentarily, eyes dilated, and dove right in. Nervous Dog was incensed, realizing that the magical food came from her and therefore belonged to her. Baring her teeth and snarling, she grabbed Comic Dog by the neck. What ensued could only be likened to a fight between Grizzly Bears on the National Geographic Channel. Dog food and drool flying, snarling and snapping, with me screaming ineffectively at the highest decibel rating I could muster.
I know my dogless friends paused at the door wondering if it was the television or if a serial killer had gotten here first. When I managed to separate Nervous Dog and Comic Dog and banish them to separate rooms, I opened my door to two very ashen-faced adults.
‘Is everything okay?’ asked my dear friend, looking shaken. ‘Should we go have dinner and come back later?’ offered her practical husband hopefully.
No. It’s fine. Just let me clean the dog barf off the floor and walls and we can open a bottle of wine. Or maybe make that a case. I need to prepare you for the inevitable underwear theft and tug-of-war.