© 2008 Leighann Lord
Dog is God spelled backwards, and like God my Cocker Spaniel has many names. His given name is Rolie, but his nicknames include Mr. Nubbins, The Mister, The Spaniel, The Carpet Weasel and, of course, His Lordship. Ironically, he answers to none of this since he's mostly deaf. My Little Old Man is about eight years old, set in his ways, and not about to change. I, as the supposedly superior and adaptable human, have had to adjust to his habits and temperament.
So far I've learned that The Mister loves eating apples and drinking coffee. One of his true pleasures is trolling through the garbage. Sometimes in the mere moments it takes to pull a full bag out of the can and put in a new one His Lordship will pounce. We once caught him paws deep in the trash with an over-sized turkey bone hanging out of his mouth. "Bad dog! No turkey!"
He stood there frozen and just stared, waiting for us to make the first move. If he could talk he would have said, "Move along, Humans. Nothing to see here." Like most pet owners I believe my dog can talk, he just chooses not to. When I imagine him speaking it's with a proper British accent. It's only fitting that he sounds as smart as he acts.
The resulting commotion from The Turkey Bone Incident was epic. There was much yelling and screaming; snarling and teeth gnashing. Some would say if I had thrown the bone away, then I could no longer legally lay claim to it. Rolie is well versed on the legalities since he is always at my side when I'm watching "Law & Order" and "Judge Judy." From the Pup's point of view he had foraged the bone fair and square. Wrestling it away WWF-style made me a meanie. I was Stone Cold Steve Austin. Rolie was The Rock.
"Bad Woman! No turkey!"
The post-fight face is always the worst. Cocker Spaniels are naturally sad and uppity looking creatures and His Lordship really knows how to turn it on. As I'm cleaning the kitchen, he sat in his bed and gave me the uber-sad face. The one that says, "All I wanted was a harmless romp through the rubbish, and you ruined it. Woman, how could you?"
Of all His Lordship's quirks and idiosyncrasies, the most baffling is his sweet tooth. His love of candy in general and chewing gum in particular is steadfast. If I leave my purse open on the floor, he sticks in his snout – without so much as a by your leave – and takes out my gum. And not just one stick, The Greedy Little Cur appropriates the entire pack.
It took me forever to realize that he wasn't being affectionate when he put his little nose up close to mine. He was sniffing my breath to see if I was chewing gum, and giving me the face that said, "You're going to share some of that aren't you, Woman?"
So, His Lordship has taught me to be vigilant. I watch where I put my purse. I wrap my old gum in tissue and make sure I put it in a closed-top garbage can. I'm careful not to drop anything. But Rolie is a Cocker Spaniel. He is smart, cunning, and Ninja quick; complete with black fur he is dressed for stealth. I, on the other hand, am only human.
When I heard him chewing in the hallway, I assumed at first my Husband had given him a bone. But then, like a mother knows the cries of her child, I know the chewing patterns my Carpet Weasel. In vain I said to my Husband, "Baby, what is he eating?"
"I gave him a bone."
"That doesn't sound like a bone."
We both investigated, but I reached Rolie first and saw him methodically tearing apart gum wrappers. When I bent down to get a closer look, he looked up at me and went jungle still. The kind of stillness that might have preceded the shoot out at the OK Corral. That's when His Lordship did the most unexpected thing. His eyes steady on me, his gaze never wavering, he slowly back away with a classic Michael Jackson moon walk. His Lordship's demeanor seemed to say, "Woman, if we both back away now, we can pretend this ugly incident never happened."
He moon walked back, then turned, and ran off into the bedroom. And as Kevin Branagh said before he went to the electric chair in the beginning of my favorite movie, Dead Again: "This is all far, far from over."
I know my dog well enough to know that if he was willing to give up the wrappers in the hall, he had bigger and better fish to fry. I followed him, and there in the corner on my Husband's side of the bed, The Mister stood guarding his prize: a half pack of gum. I have no idea where he found it. I haven't chewed that brand in ages. But again, he is a Cocker Spaniel and I am a mere human.
I know when I'm out gunned so I called for backup. I sent my Husband in to battle The Spaniel. Again there was shouting and teeth gnashing. His Lordship put up a fight that would have made Mohammed Ali proud. Float like a butterfly; bite like a dog.
We eventually got the pack back, but I know he chewed and swallowed at least one piece. When I bent down to give him the "Bad dog! No gum!" talk – and he growled his displeasure at being lectured to – I noticed that his normally atrocious doggie breath was instead minty fresh. Winter-minty to be exact. A refreshing change, and to be honest, I kinda liked it. In fact, I’d go through it all again just to see him moon walk. Perhaps with a little training he could probably do the entire "Thriller" video. But what do I know? I’m only human.
Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.
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