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The thing is, what The Mom actually wants is to be granted sole custody of The Pig. She’d also happily take on Mr Pants, and quite frankly any other dogs in a 100-mile radius, should they show signs of being interesting and or funny.

The Mom is really and truly lost without some kind of dog at her heel. Better yet if said dog intends to trip her or otherwise thwart her progress in the day.

There have been a few times when we, as a family, have been Without Dog. They are strange years, and thankfully are infrequent. Having a dog to tend to and fuss over really provides much in the way of structure for The Mom’s day. Without having to care for a creature of some kind, The Mom is likely to wither away.

I suppose this is due, in some way or another, to the fact that we, her children, require rather a lot in the way of care. Not that we aren’t fully capable adults, rather, we realise where our strengths lie. It’s generally not in taking care of ourselves. Myself, I require assistance in dealing with banking – international and domestic – and by assistance what I mean is that I need The Mom to nag me relentlessly to go in and speak to the bank people, and fill out whatever forms they require in order for me to keep two bank accounts going. When I’m at home for the holidays – summer and winter – I always ensure that I bring plenty of laundry with me. I do it myself, but really I need The Mom’s fancy machines and her laundry soap that has actual soap in it. (The stuff over here that doesn’t give me a rash also doesn’t do a very good job of making things clean). And then I know that when my shirts are clean and dry, The Mom will iron them. She’s much better at it than I am. In my UK flat, the ironing piles up until it takes me the better part of an hour to get through it.

Anyhow, I digress.

I think the thing about having a dog to fuss over, tend to, and generally bother, is that it makes The Mom feel that she is making a valuable and important contribution to the functioning of our lives as a family. If L’il Sis, Crazy D and I all have to go to work, then The Mom can step in and take care of whatever creatures aren’t expected to turn up at work.

Having a pooch around the house also gives The Mom a partner in crime, which she really thrives on. It’s no fun getting into trouble or doing a stupid thing on your own. If no one’s there to appreciate the hilarity of it all, then there is little point in doing it.

Many of the Skype calls I have with The Mom are taken up with her regaling me with the misadventures she and The Pig have had. What The Pig has eaten that she shouldn’t have, what kind of trouble The Pig got into, and so on. It’s like The Mom has been given a sibling, which I believe she has always wanted. Not in the sense of wanting to have someone older or younger who is annoying and hanging around all the time, but rather in an academic sense: I think The Mom would just like to know what it’s like to have a sibling. A dog, granted, is not quite the same, but it’s pretty close.

When L’il Sis was moving out, many of the Skype calls The Mom and I had centred around how blue The Mom was getting, knowing The Pigs days at Grandma’s house were numbered. I expect – actually, I know for certain – that The Mom was envisaging The Pig’s adjustment into the new apartment as a painful one, filled with a lot of statement pees. I believe The Mom is quite disappointed that The Pig has not voiced her disapproval of her new living arrangements with quite as much force as The Mom had been expecting.

However, when The Pig finally did move out, The Mom told me in no uncertain terms that she would not be offering a doggie daycare pick up and delivery service. Knowing what The Mom is like, I took this for what it was worth; which was nothing. We, her children, know that we are on our own if ever we should be so unfortunate as to wind up on the wrong side of the law. The Pig, and any other dogs who may cross The Mom’s path – are restricted by no such rules. They have carte blanche and can do as they please. And though The Mom has told L’il Sis that she will not be fetching the dog up and driving her around, we ALL know this is not true. What will happen instead is that The Mom will get suckered into it and L’il Sis will have only to say: But Piggie misses her Grandma! And quicker than The Pig can find a rogue chipmunk in the garage, The Mom will be in the car, en route to pick up Piggie.