Picture, if you will, dear readers, my living room.
Three white sofas are clustered in a u-shape in front of the fireplace. On each sofa, enough sheets, towels, shower curtains and comforters to outfit a small Motel 6. Why, you may ask? Simple: to keep the hound grease and dirt from penetrating the fabric of the sofas.
You see, I still pretend to be a normal suburban homeowner, somewhat prideful when it comes to her decor, and not the slovenly ‘keeper’ or warden of two grown offspring (each with their own messes), several random pooches and a roomful of birds. I still dream of the day when the sofas will be seen without their layers of protection and the room will be used to entertain guests, not play host to scruffy animals, their foul odours or piles of junk that have no home.
But that day eludes me. Right now, as I gaze into the room, I see what could best be described as a ‘ Mexican standoff’ — Jewel, the visiting hound on one sofa and The Pig, the resident beagle, facing her on the other. They both glare first at each other, then me, daring me to choose one as the favourite and the one to receive the first pat, morsel of food, or offer of a walk. It’s a lose-lose situation for me. Someone is going to be offended.
Which makes me wonder: how on earth did I raise three kids without major fights breaking out or insidious psychological issues plaguing them throughout their lives?
As Gill recently admitted, she and Crazy D still vie to be the Favourite Child on Mother’s Day. But Gill is in the U.K., Crazy D is off somewhere in the world trying to injure himself, leaving L’il Sis with the inside track since she is here with me. Gill gets a lot of attention when she ‘swans in’ (her words, not mine) for her semi-annual extended visits. We go places, do things, talk non-stop. She gets special food, shopping trips, free use of my car (without paying for gas). The other two don’t like my food, will rarely eat what I cook, are so accustomed to shopping with me that it’s no longer fun, and have their own cars. Sibling rivalry has, in large part, been diffused. So call in the hounds! We need to kick things up a notch on the jealousy scale.
The Pig has been Queen of my kitchen for years. Enter Jewel. She knows that she is lower on the totem pole but is so large, she just insinuates herself into the space behind me (the giver of all snacks), or in front of the fridge. Since she is tall, her snout is at eye level with the meat tray. The Pig can only stand back and watch, anger seething from every beagle hair. But she knows she has the cute factor working for her. The more morose she looks, the faster she is rewarded. Poor parenting, I know, but I never claimed to be a strict disciplinarian. And often, proving I should be not left in charge of anything living, I distract Jewel so I can slip The Pig a little extra somethin’ somethin’. Supernanny would have me up for thirty lashes.
The Pig’s chicken soup for lunch routine has, of necessity, been expanded to include Jewel. I try to explain to The Pig that she still gets the larger portion, the most chicken, the best array of veggies in hers (not to mention the finest hand when it comes to seasonings), but she remains unimpressed. In her beagle brain, That Other Bitch is moving in on her sacred tradition, the Chicken Soup To Cure Cancer regimen. I serve their soup on opposite sides of the kitchen and present The Pig with hers first so a dogfight doesn’t break out immediately.
Walking is less stressful — but only minimally. Jewel doesn’t like to walk much; The Pig lives and breathes for walks and swampy adventures. My solution to the problem is to take Jewel for several short walks; The Pig gets one extended walk. I thought I was getting away with my sneaky plan until yesterday when Jewel gave me The Stinkeye as soon as I returned from an hour-long trek with The Pig. To placate her, I grabbed the leash and trotted her around the block. I entered the house to find The Pig embedded on the sofa (the one commandeered by Jewel and still stacked with Jewel’s special blankie), head propped up on two pillows, shnoot in the air, looking morosely out the window as if to say, “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. But if that bitch thinks she’s getting her couch and blankie back anytime soon, she’s dumber than I thought!”
It’s all Crazy D’s fault, of course. Jewel has decided he is her Alpha when she’s here. But Crazy D currently is NOT here. When she first arrived, she dashed upstairs to check out his room. To say she was crushed to discover his absence would be like describing the Rockies as ‘hills’. She was absolutely deflated. She wouldn’t settle during the daytime or, crucially, at night. She had anticipated several nights of sleepovers with Crazy D in his ‘Big Boy Bed’. Her own couch/cum bed that accompanied her here was clearly inferior to canoodling with a warm body in a massive teak bed. She had signed up for a five-star experience and here she was in Motel 6 mode. Not acceptable. Nobody slept — especially The Pig who was forced one night to share L’il Sis’ room with the interloper.
I don’t know how or when The Pig’s revenge will come, but I know it will come. I think I’d best be preparing my carpets for the onslaught…and sleep with one eye open.