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We’re a possessive lot around The Mom’s.

It would appear that any creature who crosses the threshold of The Blue House realises that The Mom is the Alpha, after a fashion. Everyone and everything vies for her attention. We all do it in different ways.

There are small ways that announce that one is part of the pack, shall we say. Strangers come to the front door, the initiated realise that no one in this house ever answers the front door so whilst strangers languish on the front porch, waiting patiently for someone to open the door, family members go around to the side door of the garage and let themselves in.

People accustomed to the way The Mom’s house operates also know that no one ever answers the phone, so instead of calling first, to see if it’s a good time to come over, People In The Know just arrive and let themselves in. People In The Know also just walk right into the kitchen and help themselves to whatever it is they want, a drink, a snack.

This way of operating has been going on since we were in high school. In fact, one afternoon, we arrived home from school to find one of our neighbourhood friends sitting in front of the TV, happily munching on potato chips. Nobody, including The Mom, even batted an eyelash. This kid was part of the group and as such – even though he wasn’t her kid – The Mom just accepted that he was if not meant to be there, then at least his presence was accepted.

I’ve often thought, whilst watching fairly trashy vampire movies, that the way vampires marked out their familiars was an excellent idea. In most of these films, the human familiar would have a strange hieroglyphic looking tattoo somewhere improbable, under the tongue, behind an ear, somewhere not instantly noticeable. If we operated a similar marking system, we’d know instantly if someone was part of the pack. Though, in fairness, I suppose if someone’s sitting in your living room, in his underpants, eating potato chips and watching re-runs of Judge Judy, you’d figure his level of comfort would indicate a certain acceptance within the family unit.

Anyhow, with the dogs that come into our house, they’ve developed a new and slightly unusual way of denoting who is part of the pack and who is not.

They do it in what I suppose is the traditional way. They mark their territory. By pissing on the carpet in the family room.

I do believe that in whatever their natural arena would be – the woods, a farm – the dogs would have had to revert to this territorial marking business, in order to assert dominance. To demonstrate to each other who was in charge and who was on top.

But, at The Mom’s, this is now done by emptying their bladders on the fluffy white carpet she bought, rather foolishly in retrospect, a few years ago.

I can’t remember when it started, but I do believe that The Pig, L’il Sis’ beagle, kicked things off. This dog has long held a grudge that she is not Top Bitch. So in order to rectify things, she took to peeing on the carpet, so that The Mom and Poochie would understand that it was she who was running the show. Not to be outdone, Elvis has also taken to leaving a bit of himself behind on the carpet. The New Puppy has also had his way with the carpet though I don’t think it was on purpose, he just gets a bit too excited.

When, at dinner recently, L’il Sis and Other Brother jumped up and ran screaming into the family room, it dawned on me that this is the way we’re doing things here now. That in order to be part of the pack, one must piss on the carpet. In order to retain one’s position within the family, one must now do so by urinating in the pee patch, as it were.

Since I live in England now, I worry that my status within the family is under constant threat. Not that I’m about to be cast out, mind, but rather that one of the dogs, who spend more time around the house, will one day be given my room in which to live out their dotage. I’ve been considering ways to mark out my territory and though it seems extreme, since there are very nearly more dogs than people in the family, I think I may have to take one little piss on the carpet before I head back to London. Just to make sure I don’t lose my spot.

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