Hounded by rivals at home

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sept. 30, 2004

Dear Patty.

Most men get jealous of other men. I'm jealous of our dogs. The three of them have me outnumbered and outmaneuvered.

It's not because they sit around all day moving from one pillow to another like sultans, occasional stopping off for a lap at the water bowl. Actually, they have a pleading look when I leave the house for work. They'd like to go. If they only knew what work is.

No, I'm jealous because I suspect DC likes the dogs better than she likes me. You judge.

When she comes home and starts making dinner, it's the dogs' dinner she makes first. Often that involves broth and succulent chunks of herb-roasted chicken ladled over the best kibble. To be fair, the same chicken goes on my salad. But it's hard to feel special.

If we watch TV and one of the dogs isn't at our feet, DC worries about where it might be. I assure her our house isn't big enough for a dog to get lost in.

She is especially solicitous of Alvie, the beagle. He has to take five pills and an iron supplement every day to keep everything working. DC is always gauging how he's breathing. "Should we take him to the vet?" she asks every other day.

If I were having trouble breathing, she'd say, "Maybe you need to work out more."

DC takes the dogs for a walk before retiring for the night. They cause a ruckus as soon as she puts on her shoes. I'm invited but feel like an interloper. She and they know how and where the walk is supposed to go. My presence seems to create confusion. Hank drags me down the street, Lucy tangles her leash in the others' and Alvie bays because he wants to go somewhere I don't. So I stay home and pout, wondering if they'll ever get home.

When I want to go for a walk, you can bet DC will insist on taking the dogs.

It's a rare night when three dogs aren't in bed with us at the same time. It's hard to find a place to slide my legs in between all the bodies. Once in place I'm stuck in that position for the rest of the night. "Don't roll over on Alvie," DC cautions. Roll over?

Maybe I'm overreacting. They're just dogs. But devious dogs. Lucy is sweet and Hank is ferocious, the classic good dog-bad dog routine. Whatever they want from DC, they get. Whatever I want, I get two years later.

She kisses them on their noses all the time and pats their behinds. She dances with them and sometimes brushes their teeth. Her mother knits Alvie sweaters because he gets cold easily. I have to buy my sweaters.

It's almost impossible to make DC take a vacation because she doesn't want to leave them in a perfectly fine kennel. When she does they arrive with a suitcase packed with familiar blankets and animal-flavored treats.

That's another thing. They get treats. I get apples.

This leaves me wondering: If DC had to choose between the dogs and me, who would stay? I don't know, so I've started a list of my good attributes. I never steal anyone else's food, I don't shed much and hardly ever make barking noises.

And I have a leg up on the dogs when it comes to personal hygiene. I can bathe myself. If DC didn't wash them, they wouldn't even bother.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is the managing editor for the Southeast Missourian.

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