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It’s wonderful to feel loved, to be the most popular person around. But, I must admit, this week it’s proven to be a bit of a burden.

As regular readers know, since L’il Sis and The Pig (her beagle) moved in with me, I have become The Pig’s primary caregiver during the day when L’il Sis is at work. It seems we have bonded over the homemade soup I produce daily for her lunch. We have a routine worked out: she naps in the morning while I work at the computer. We have lunch together and then retreat to my room for nap time. We go for a lengthy walk in the afternoon,weather permitting, and I feed her dinner before Li’l Sis arrives home. To The Pig (and beagles in general) food is love. And so by extension, I have attained Most Loved Status.

Well, I have recently been taken down a notch or two on the popularity scale.

It all began when I agreed to look after a neighbour’s dog for a long weekend. I have cared for Jewel, a very large hound, before and am quite fond of her. She is, unlike any of our own family mutts, well-trained and a perfect houseguest. But the moment The Pig set eyes on her (and more to the point, her accoutrements — large bed, blankie, and huge food bucket), it was war. I am The Pig’s Grandma (please spare me the lookalike jokes) and she does not share. There was the minor inconvenient fact that Jewel is huge and could crush The Pig if she so chose. The Pig was indignant at the threat, but not stupid. She realized she had to play her hand carefully to retain her Top Bitch status with me. After all, she struggled hard to attain this exalted status. When I had Poochie and The Pig came to visit, the only ‘weapon’ at her disposal was to make a statement pee on my carpets to denote her displeasure at my fawning over Poochie. With Poochie’s demise, The Pig finally achieved her status as Head Bitch (a win by default is still a win.) She was not about to cede her title to another dog.

During the weekend, the two dogs flagrantly competed for my attention and love. When I tried to give The Pig her two bowls of homemade soup at lunch, Jewel was right there, ready for hers. The Pig sneered, giving a message that: “This is MY soup made by MY Grandma specially for me, the favoured child.” To prevent a dogfight in my kitchen, I lured Jewel away with a snack of baby carrots and chicken bits. She was probably thinking: “Only wusses eat soup! You, Pig, are probably getting it because your teeth aren’t good enough to chomp on carrots and REAL meat.”

They managed to share the water bowl, although I suspect The Pig spat in the dish first, hoping Jewel would catch some dreaded disease.

When I took The Interloper for a walk, The Pig was relentless and giving me The Stinkeye. Nap time was a disaster waiting to happen. Since Jewel’s large bed took pride of place at the foot of my bed (on the floor, however), The Pig’s access to her own lounging settee was in harm’s way. She braved her way through once, but after Jewel laid her claim to me and my room with a few well-executed growls, The Pig figured she’d sleep elsewhere…thus becoming the underdog and the recipient of the Sympathy Vote from me — a not insignificant coup.

The Interloper followed me, becoming my shadow for the entire weekend. I couldn’t even use the toilet without her intense gaze staring at me, mere inches from my face. Good thing, since I had kids, I was accustomed to sharing these private moments with small creatures. There’s truly nothing like bonding over a pee. At any rate, by the end of the weekend, nerves were getting frazzled…human and critter alike. As The Pig curled in a fetal position on the sofa, looking every bit the abandoned, abused puppy, I assured her that Grandma still loved her best and that I’d make it up to her when Jewel left.

I confessed this last bit to Gill. “Oh, no, Ma! You didn’t…that’s just the sort of ammunition The Pig wants. You just made a fundamental error — you gave her Top Dog status. She’ll wind you around her little paw so fast you won’t know what hit you.”

“Well, the poor Pig is suffering. She’s feeling neglected. If I recall, you and Crazy D used to have a slight jealousy issue when you were young. You each vied to become the Favourite Child…or, wait a minute, was it the Worst, most ill-behaved child?”

“Very funny…whatever the current contest, I have a feeling The Pig will win. And if she doesn’t, it’s YOUR carpets that will suffer. I’m just sayin’…”

With that comment, I rushed over to give The Pig a big squeeze and let her know I love her. It’s called Carpet Insurance.

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