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That’s when it’s a ‘gateway substance’– intended to be every bit as enticing, addictive, inviting as that first inhalation of pot.

The Pig (L’il Sis’ beagle) was acting strangely –even for her–  today. I figured, since we’d been cooped up in the house for days because of the rotten weather, she was getting cabin fever. (Poor thing, with this frigid air she has been reduced to being put on the end of a long leash, tethered by me from inside the garage, while she braves the air to have a pee on the closest patch of snow she can hit. At this point in the winter, I don’t even care if she does it on the sidewalk right outside the door…or, come to think of it, on the kitchen floor. Special dispensation is allowed when it’s windy and below -25. She’s been ill and she deserves a break. The aging, feeble Coonhound passed away this week and in his last days of hit-and-miss kidney function, we gave him that same special right and privilege. He took us up on it by crapping and peeing once on the kitchen floor. As gross as it seems, it was easy to clean. And in the general scheme of things, isn’t the family home the one place you can disgrace yourself with impunity?

Back to the issue of the bone. The Pig had been acting odd, so I gave her a dentabone to relish. I knew it wouldn’t last long, but might give her some small pleasure for a few minutes. Off she trotted, the bone hanging out off her mouth, tail wagging happily. But instead of hunkering down on the carpet in her regular spot, she wandered around with it, looking uncertain as to its purpose. I encouraged her to chomp away with abandon, but she seemed puzzled. I sat at the table to have my lunch and read. She disappeared.

I, like any knowledgeable parent or pet owner, got suspicious after things got too quiet. I followed my prey, checking all her usual haunts. The mudroom…no. She hadn’t managed to lock herself in and then wait patiently for a rescue. The bathroom wastebasket…no. Still untouched behind the closed door. (Last week she pillaged, spreading the nasty contents all over the hall.) I proceeded to my bedroom. She has her own private ‘day bed’ or settee there, complete with scrunched up blankets, pillows, and toys for her midday enjoyment. She naps when I nap. (Don’t judge…I’m old and can’t sleep much at night! I get it when I can. OMG — I’m becoming my mother!!) I am lulled to a luxurious afternoon siesta by the comforting sound of her freight train-like snores.

She was at the foot of my bed. Apparently she had determined that it was nap time. Who am I to argue? If someone else wants to make decisions around here, have at it, I say. I patted the settee, indicating for her to jump up, and waited. No dice. She gave me a questioning look. I shrugged, got into my own bed and proceeded to get into sleep mode. But I couldn’t. There was a focused pair of doggie eyes staring at me. Even with my eyes closed, I could feel them. That was when I felt something else. Rummaging slightly under my pillow, I found the gift she had left for me: her dentabone, placed ever so carefully in place. She had presented me with her treasure, her version of a buried bone! I praised her, thanked her, and patted her head…then I gave it back to her, thinking she might want it for our nap.

Again, the puzzled look. What was wrong with her?

And then it dawned on me. She wanted to get up on MY bed for her nap and cuddle up with me, her head on the pillow just as she does each night with L’il Sis. And so, the bone had been her ‘gateway’ substance to my bed and my pillow, meant to make her appear so endearing that I’d cave and allow her up. I was tempted but, since I had railed against my ex for snoring and keeping me awake, I could hardly take The Pig in for the same crime. Although she IS cuddlier. Besides, there was still the matter of the ‘Hound Schtink’. Yes, as any hound owner will attest, the hound breed has its own special odour…and it’s not good. So as much as I love  her and appreciate the honour she tried to bestow upon me, I took her back to her own settee. The slightly removed snore of the hound at rest is soothing.

And so, Dear Readers, a gateway substance is NOT always a gateway.