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With the winter still going strong, L’il Sis has been hard pressed to come up with things to amuse The Pig. Regular walks are cut short when she lifts her front paws up one at a time, a look of derision on her face that says: ‘Of course YOU want to go further — you have BOOTS on!’ Chasing bunnies in the woods only means The Pig gets stuck in the brambles, her fancy new coat with its velcro straps hoisting her by her own petard, as it were, a bright red target for local coyotes. I have plowed through deep drifts and retrieved her more than once from such humiliation. She is short and can’t see over the drifts so a walk has lost some of the charm it has in warmer seasons when she can actually see something in the world. Suffice it to say, I can’t blame The Pig when she refuses to go more than three feet from the door to pee. She is SO over winter.

L’il Sis has found a solution to the ennui with which The Pig is gripped. She had to look no further than The Pig’s Auntie Gill. Remembering with delight Gill’s shopping rampages, L’il Sis decided to put the dog in the car and take her to the local big box pet store. It’s a regular Disney park for canines. Of a Friday evening, you’ll find lots of suburban families  treating their pooches to such an outing.

Just as Gill loves nothing better than running through the Supercentre aisles marveling at all the weird and wonderful food products, so The Pig goes wild at what I’ll call ‘Pet Haven’. Instead of Gill’s screams of delight at finding some new, tantalizing product, we are witness to The Pig running through the aisles as fast as her stubby little legs will go, tail high and wagging furiously, tongue hanging out of her mouth, sensitive beagle nose taking in all the marvelous odours. She can hardly restrain herself. She doesn’t know where to head first. She pushes herself under the shelves, tongue extended, in her attempts to find any tiny treat morsels that have fallen down. On one corner display, she manages to wedge her body under one side of the corner while her tongue reaches around to come out the other corner. This is her version of gymnastics or yoga.

She meets and greets other pooches also out for an evening of fun. She is always friendly (with the possible exception of when other snouts get too ‘up close and personal’ in her nether regions. I have to say, she is much friendlier and makes the expedition much more of a social occasion than Gill ever does.

She gazes for a moment at another dog getting a ‘beauty treatment’ in the salon area. She ponders the possibilities of a spa hour, then thinks better of it. No doubt she realizes  that her personal hound odour is, for L’il Sis, a large part of her charm and so is loath to douse it in perfume smells.

The Pig uses this outing to enhance her self esteem. All the clerks dote on her. She IS cute, I’ll give her that. I can’t recall Gill ever getting such lavish praise showered on HER. Then again, with her surly expression and loud rantings, that’s not unexpected. She could learn a thing or two from The Pig about wrapping people around their little fingers..or paws.

The crowning glory of the event is the treats given to the canine customers at the checkout counter. The Pig knows they’re coming and works it for all it’s worth. She’ll take one, disappear momentarily, and then pop her head up again, the eyes pleading innocently, ‘No I haven’t had any treats! You must be mistaking me for someone else. You wouldn’t want me to go without, would you?’  I am familiar with this routine since she often uses it at home. I give her dinner and then she runs to L’il Sis, pretending to be starving and that her Grandmother (me) has cruelly forgotten all about her and has neglected to provide dinner. By the time she’s left the store, she eaten the equivalent of a full meal. Come to think of it, Gill does the same thing at the Supercentre. She heads for all the people demonstrating food products and loads up. She has even confessed to ‘doing lunch’ this way at some of the posh London stores when her budget is particularly tight.

All of which goes to prove that we can learn something from everyone…even relatives. I’m sure Gill is feeling proud that her niece, The Pig, has stepped up to the plate and continued the grand tradition of Super Shopping Binges.