June 8, 2012

My wife, Lady Laura, loves dogs. Ever since our Susi died, she calls Rudy "Sweetie." She also calls me "Sweetie." I don't know whether to smile or wag my tail.

It's really confusing. The other day, Laura said, "Dinner is ready, Sweetie." I rushed to the kitchen, along with the dog. "Silly dog," I thought. "You're not getting any of my dinner." The meal looked delicious, and I would have complimented my wife, had she not placed it on the floor.

The dog got to the food before I could. His head, unfortunately, is closer to the floor. That allows him to quickly slurp food and anything else that looks remotely like food, such as dirty socks or tofu. If you own a dog, you may not need a vacuum cleaner.

Within a minute, the dog had licked his bowl clean and was looking up at us with an expression that said, "Come on, folks. When are you going to feed me?" Even if he's just eaten a big meal, he wants to keep eating. He's a lot like me. Except that I'm too proud to beg. When the dog is wolfing down his food, I try not to sit in front of him and drool. Unfortunately, he never extends the same courtesy to me. I can't eat anything without enduring his sad-eyed expression that says, "Oh please, I haven't eaten any food since last summer, when I ate your tennis ball. If you don't feed me, I'll fill your entire home with drool."

Having a dog is a lot like baby-sitting, except for three major differences: (1) babies have trouble catching food with their mouths; (2) babies are usually uglier; and (3) babies are nicer to trees.

Most dogs in America are so lucky. They're fed and treated better than many children around the world. And they never have to do the dishes. You can't even get them to take the trash out. They must have a powerful union.

My wife knows a lot about dogs. She thinks she's a veterinarian specializing in epidemiology. (It took me three weeks to learn how to spell "epidemiology" and another three weeks to learn how to pronounce it. I still don't know what it means.) All I know is that Laura loves animals, especially dogs. She kisses them and pets them and talks to them, making me wish I had four legs.

I think she likes dogs partly because they're better listeners than men. When she's telling one of her long stories - usually about something amazing she seen on television - the dog will just sit there and listen attentively. I know what he's thinking: "If I sit still and act interested, maybe she'll feed me." Dogs are smarter than they look.

I don't mind Laura babying the dogs, but I wish it weren't so confusing. The other night, she said, "Are you coming to bed, Sweetie?" I rushed to the bedroom, along with the dog. "Silly dog," I thought. "You're not snuggling in bed with us. Not until you learn to use mouthwash."

Rudy jumped on the bed before I could. I looked at my wife. She looked at me with a puzzled expression that said, "I wasn't calling YOU to bed." Then she petted the dog.

"OK, Sweetie," I said. "I love you."

"I love you, too," she said.

"I was talking to the dog," I said.