it’s a dog’s life

I’ll go ahead and apologize to my brother for today’s post.  Some of this will come as no surprise, but some details may haunt you in the days to come.

You might just need to avert your eyes altogether, J.  I’ll understand.

We’re Cesar Millan fans in this household, but it turns out that levels of Millan discipleship can vary widely.  J. and his wife brought their dog Abby over for a visit recently, and it was fascinating to watch my brother interact with Gracie; I learned several handy training tips that day.  Unfortunately, I think the dogs freaked Abby out a little with their rough play, and she seemed genuinely confused by their presence on the couches.  Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure Cesar wouldn’t let his pack lounge around on his sofas…oops.

At any rate, I’ve been thinking lately about dog life.  Or at least dog life as we know it.

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Gracie and Phoebe truly seem to be made for each other.  A little like that whole brother from another mother thing, only with fur.  And girl parts.  If I didn’t know better I’d think they spent their first four months snuggled up together in the same litter.

They’re treated to two meals a day, brought by the small people they adore, and they sit for their food (except for those mornings when T-man’s running late and it just gets tossed into their bowls). Phoebe occasionally skips a meal, an act that throws Bear into a tizzy of worry, but Gracie never refuses food.  Ever.  We actually had to put three large pacers (silver balls slightly bigger than tennis balls) in her bowl to stop her from inhaling her meal like a Hoover.

After breakfast there’s a flurry of playtime, a burst of energy that usually gets pushed into the backyard.  That’s when we hit our crossroads.

I haven’t yet figured out Gracie’s system for determining which days to act up.  Is it on a rotation?  Every third day marked for being a scamp?  Or energy-based?  High energy days turn into random naughtiness and destruction.  Weather can also influence this schedule.  Too rainy = unable to run outside and burn off energy = acting nutty indoors.

Whatever the formula, shortly after breakfast Gracie establishes her pattern for the day.  Calm days bring me a fluffy, snuggly Gracie.  One who lumbers up onto the couch after the kids leave, plops her head onto a throw pillow, and sinks into a peaceful rest.  These are the afternoons that find Gracie lounging across the back of the couch, watching the world outside our front door.

And the not-so-calm days?  Well, I can tell within the first half hour where those will land on the Gracie Destruction Scale.  Similar to hurricane systems, Gracie works on a scale of 1 through 5. Category 1 and 2 days are general scampiness – stealing socks, moving pacers to the family room, and playing rough with Phoebe in the house.  Category 3 days kick it up a notch – snatching unattended snacks, sticking her head in trash cans, and snuffling food in the pantry.

Category 4 and 5 days are marked by catastrophic destruction in the home.  Those are the days when Gracie decides a Ziplock bag of paper clips looks like a tasty afternoon snack, the Post-It pad on the counter needs gnawing, and tin foil used to reheat food should be cleaned by tongue. These are the days when her cute factor literally saves her furry butt.  Repeatedly.

All of Gracie’s craziness makes Phoebe look like the calm sister.  She lounges the day away, stretched out across the couch or curled up on a pillow.  Often she’ll fold herself into my side, laying her chin across my leg and sighing contentedly.  In all honesty, Phoebe takes loving as a given now…being unwilling to pet or hold her is close to a cardinal sin in her book.

This sweet docile doggy is what makes Phoebe #2 so startling.  Our girl will be snoozing happily, peacefully dreaming or snuggling close, and all is right with the world.  Until the UPS truck pulls in the driveway.  Or a kid knocks on the door.  Or hell, I don’t know, a butterfly farts two counties over.  Whatever it might be launches our sweet girl into the air where she morphs into Phoebe #2 – a crazy dog whose hair stands on end down her back as she barks maniacally at the front door.

Phoebe #2 also has quite the vertical jump.  She can shoot herself four feet into the air, straight up, like some kind of crazed pogo stick.  This kangaroo bouncing appears when she’s waiting to be let into the backyard or when she greets BrightSide at the door.  Between her terrifying bark, the bristling fur, and that alarming sproing! Phoebe #2 bears absolutely no resemblance to the calm sister.

They’re quite a pair, and all in all it looks like they’ve got a pretty cushy existence.  Food, shelter, and love galore.  Okay, maybe we shouldn’t let them on the couch, and perhaps they push their luck a little too far sometimes.

But it’s a good dog life for all of us.

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