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I have the pleasure this week of looking after a neighbour’s large hound while the family is on vacation. This, the first day, saw her a little disoriented and confused. She had witnessed them doing some preliminary packing and was getting upset. In an effort to quell her anxiety, they brought her across the street to my house a bit earlier than planned. No problem. To distract her, I took her for a long walk, ignoring the fact that every turn I took, she gazed longingly behind as if to check on her family’s whereabouts.

By the end of the first day, however (placated with a few judicious bribes of baby carrots and smoked salmon pieces), she had settled into the routine of my house. Mrs. Beeton (the pink parakeet), while suspicious of the new guest, was holding her own anxiety-wise. Well, except for the flapping incident in the middle of the night when the dog startled her and she fell off her perch. Very undignified.

Despite the fact that I was on ‘pet duty’ for the week, I had to get some work done– especially the writing that had been set aside while Gill was here. So I sat down at the computer. The dog lay down behind my chair and we settled into a companionable silence. I worked away for a while, pecking out what I hoped would be a couple of funny new blogs. In the midst of my creative streak, up popped a computer message saying my session time had ended and I had to log in to this site again. This required my password. I entered it. There was no hesitation on my part. I knew it down cold. But my machine rejected it. Not possible! I tried it again, lest I had misspelled it. Still no luck. After several times trying it and then entering a new one, only to be told the computer didn’t like and therefore wouldn’t accept the new one (it was deemed ‘too simple’), I lost it. My temper, not the password. Who died and made my computer God?

“Simple? I’ll give you simple!” I yelled at the computer. I ranted at its incompetence. I waved my hands at it. I was one step away from punching out its lights when I felt a soft chin on my lap. It was the dog, looking very concerned on my behalf. She whimpered, offered me her paw in comfort, and gazed into my eyes as if to say, “Oh, my Papa does this too. He screams at his computer all the time. He told me not to say anything to anyone, but I’m trying to make you feel better. You know, you’re not alone. Everyone hates their computer.”

That was the point at which I realized that the family pets we love and trust with our secrets are every bit as dangerous as Julian Assange and his cohorts in the current leaking scandals. Our pets are little sponges, picking up all our bad words, erratic actions, violent tendencies, compulsive behaviors and financial misdeeds, ready to divulge them at the drop of a hat…or the  crumble of a Milkbone. They are our best friends until they aren’t. They are turncoats of the lowest order. We farm them out to a friend and before we know it, our family secrets are public! I now know my neighbour gets angry at his computer and probably screams obscenities at it. One look at the dog’s face and I knew it wasn’t the first time she’d seen a human go ballistic at a computer screen. Oops…BUSTED! My mild-mannered neighbour is not what he seems!

And now that I think of it, the last time Crazy D was here with his puppy, the tiny critter divulged a couple of their family secrets too. Take his penchant for pants, for instance. Underpants. At home, the puppy sometimes curls up in Crazy D’s pants. This usually occurs when Crazy D is away on a job and the puppy misses him. Understandable. They smell like Poppa…in a way no other object could! So the puppy collects pants and snuggles with them. He absconded with a pair of Gill’s underpants as well and made a fine little nest for himself — earning the puppy his new nickname, Mr. Pants. Which begs the question: why were they within reach (i.e.:on the floor) in the first place? That in itself is its own family secret…we leave clothes lying around. Ergo, we’re slobs. Not something the neighbours need to know but we have a little ‘snitch’ in our midst. Paul Revere, nothing! The snitches are coming — and they’re our furry little friends, the creatures with whom we share our most intimate secrets. And, of course, everyone knows a story about a parrot that has picked up his owner’s penchant for dropping F bombs when company comes.

Yes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens at home gets spilled by your pet! And you think that little personal stash of weed in your desk drawer is safe? Ha! Your pooch ‘The Narc’ and his nose will lead The Man right to it. But, I guess if Justin Trudeau isn’t worried, we shouldn’t be either…

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