How I Pet My Mother

It is clearly written in the Canine Code of Conduct that there only two acceptable responses to Mortal Enemy Number Two (postman, of course, being Enemy Number One). When faced with The Dreaded Vacuum Cleaner, the rules state clearly; fight or flight. Kill it, or avoid it. These responses have evolved over thousands of years, all the way back to Cro-Magnon woman (let’s face it; if Cro-Magnon man was dragging her around by the hair, you know he wasn’t doing much of the cavework). Prehistoric pooch learned to head for high ground when the missus grabbed that cute baby Mammoth by the back legs and Swiffered him back and forth over the saber-toothed tiger rug, trunk first, a la the Flintstones. This may or may not have actually happened on the Flintstones and if it didn’t, obviously I should’ve been on the writing staff.

Once, when Cro-dog sensed a particularly weak baby Wooly and moved in for the kill before he could think better of it, Cro-Maggie was forced to abort her Saturday morning cleaning routine. Success was limited, though, because the attack made quite a bloody mess, requiring the rug to be tossed out and a new baby Mammoth to be acquired by Papa Cro, who smacked CRo-ver in the butt with a rolled-up New York Times (they don’t call it a ‘dinosaur’ for nothing) and sent him to bed without no Stegosaurus burger. Buddy v. Bissell and Daisy v. Dyson are rare but inspiring cases of modern-day triumph in the epic battle of dog and machine, but dogs are generally not a litigious bunch. Most often, they choose not to stray from the Code of Conduct that, again, clearly states one is either to fight or take flight from all manner of noisy suckage. In a typical household, when faced with The Appliance Who Shall Not Be Named, the dog will either run for cover immediately or do so after first staging some level of muzzle-saving protest including growling, biting, lunging, teeth barring, and the occasional chasing of the cord. In a typical household.

To which, I respond…why can’t I live in a typical household? Big Sissy has obviously not read the Canine Code to her illiterate baby brother. We know that The Big One is illiterate because, despite all manner of signage, he continues to drink from the toilet. If the one titled “List of Ingredients” didn’t stop him, by God, the boy just can’t read. Then again, given his tastes, maybe he thought that was a menu. Yes, The Big One, aka Jordan, The Dumb One, Woobie, or The One Who Will Do Anything (N.E.THING!) for a Kraft Single, is among many other things a toilet drinker. And, of course, a face-licker.

Big Sissy, aka Barkley, The Little One, The Smart One, or The One Who Will Do Anything for a Kraft Single after she’s damned-well good and done doing whatever it was you were bribing her away from with the cheese, runs as far away as she can get when I pull out the Kenmore. Or the broom, blender, toaster, blow-dryer, nail-clippers, bath towels…well, basically, pretty much anything but a toy. Oh yeah, aka Scared-e-pants.

Little brother, though, is fearless. My vacuum routine goes something like this:

Me: Sweep, sweep, sweep. “Woobie, please move for Mumma.”

Him: Languidly rolling over onto his side, “Sure, Mom. Right after you give me a good belly scritch.”

Me: Scritch, scritch, scritch. “Now, move.”

Him: “Who, me?” He redefines the phrase ‘giving the hairy eyeball’.

Me: Vacuum still running, right by his head, “Jordan! MOVE!”

Him: “Fine, fine! Don’t get your panties all in a rut!” Stands up, does two minutes of Doga stretches, moves three feet, plops back down in my path.

Me: Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. “Woobie, please move for Mumma.”

And so on.

This continues as he follows me from room to room because he takes his self-appointed title Best Companion EV-UR very seriously and believes his number one job task is to never, ever let me out of his sight. The chore inevitably ends in the living room because we have a huge sectional sofa that must be vacuumed of dog hair and I hate this thankless, endless task so I always save it for last. In hell, I will be in charge of hair removal in a hypoallergenic sofa store run by Afghan hounds.

Him: “Ah, finally, we’re almost done. I can rest.” Hops up onto the sofa, making sure to select a cushion I have yet to vacuum.

Me: Sweep. Curse. Sweep. Curse. Sweep.

This takes a while, so by the time I get to his cushion, The One Who Will do Anything for a Kraft Single is face down in a pool of sleepy drool and requires room (cushion?) service delivery of the aforementioned Single. Even then, he moves grudgingly, lolling over onto the cushion I just cleaned and taking with him a good portion of the hair, plus now the cheese drool, from his current station.


Him: Gives me The Paw.

There is a special tone of voice my hubby sometimes…OK, frequently… uses to call my name, which makes my ears pique and a little voice in my head go “Uh-oh. What’d I do now?” After ten years, I’ve developed a canned response, a syrupy, lilting, “I love you, Honey!” The Paw is the canine equivalent. Jordan widens the already-doe eyes, tilts his head, and lifts one paw as if to shake my hand, pat my shoulder, and crush like a bug any last fleeting thought of my being the alpha dog in this relationship. It is an irresistible force of nature and it is why, frequently, a precisely dog-shaped spot of hair remains on the sofa immediately following my cleaning routine. Maybe…just maybe…he’s not The Dumb One after all.


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