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It has been quiet and somewhat lonely here lately since L’il Sis and The Pig (her beagle) moved into their own place. I only get to see them infrequently since L’il Sis works long hours and The Pig isn’t allowed to drive her car without supervision. Probably a good thing, too, or she’d be here every day at lunch begging for Grammy’s homemade chicken soup. Little did I realize what a monster I had created. It’s so firmly entrenched in the dog’s psyche now that L’il Sis, the somewhat reformed vegan, has to boil chicken carcasses for broth herself, all the while trying not to gag. Now THAT’S motherly dedication!

I was recently allowed to have The Pig for a sleepover while L’il Sis went to Toronto overnight. The Pig had a delightful time here at Grammy’s. First we went across the street for a Thanksgiving turkey meal with our American friends. (I love that they enjoy the timing of our holiday more than the American one, saying theirs is too close to Christmas. They’re right: how much turkey can a person eat in a one-month span?)

I had to do some delicate negotiating with them before The Pig was allowed to come. I didn’t want to leave her alone in my house for fear that she’d destroy the newly-painted kitchen cabinets. (She and her talons were the reason they had to be repainted in the first place.) Very little stops a beagle in the quest for food…especially food inside cupboards, fridges, or resting innocently, defenseless, at the back of a counter.

Negotiations were necessary since she had rendered herself a ‘persona non grata’ at their house when she once wandered upstairs and peed on their bedroom carpet. I suspect this was her statement about THEIR dog’s week-long stay at my house when they went on vacation. She wanted to make sure everyone got the message that, if their dog could invade MY (HER) territory, she could do the same to theirs. And there is no invasion more pointed or insolent than dog pee on your rug.

But negotiations proved successful and The Pig trotted into their kitchen as though she owned the place…this after my firm lecture on ‘knowing your place’ and ‘behaving respectfully’ toward your hosts. This is not a dog filled with a lot of humility or guilt.

We enclosed her in the room with doors and a baby gate. This was not a punishment for her since all the people and all the food was there too. She sat or lay obediently while the host finished cooking. When he opened the oven door to release the golden brown, succulent bird, The Pig started to drool. Her eyes were fixed on the bird and would not move. I could see the thoughts whirring in her little brain. “If I lunge from this distance, will I be able to drag the bird to the door before they realize I’m gone? Or should I just take whatever bites I can while I’m running? That is the BEST looking turkey I’ve seen in a long time. Oh, I’m SO hungry.” Did I mention I’d just fed her her dinner before we came out? I didn’t think I had.

“Red alert,” I yelled. The host looked around and figured out why I was yelling. He put the turkey far away from The Pig.

She realized she’d been temporarily outwitted and sat down beside me at the dining table, knowing that I am a soft touch and will sneak her tidbits without her having to make an abject fool of herself. She was correct. She behaved herself pretty well — until it was time to take our leave. We had turned away to chat briefly and suddenly the host screamed. I turned to see The Pig stretched up to her full height, paws propped up on the counter, turkey on the platter mere inches from her face.

“Piggy! Down!” I yelled, anxious to prevent her from doing something so egregious that we’d never be invited back again. Grudgingly, she got down before any damage was done. We slunk out the door, thanking our hosts for the delightful evening.

I had a restless sleep that night, kept awake by The Pig snoring like a freight train on the settee in my room. L’il Sis sleeps with her in her bed and is often pushed off the pillow by a doggie schnoot wanting to hog the pillow. It’s no wonder she always complains (puzzled as to why) she feels exhausted.

The following morning, I loaded The Pig into the car to help me do errands. She is a formidable co-pilot and again I was taking evasive action to protect my house. If she was with me, she wasn’t making statement pees or raiding the fridge or dumping the garbage. She was riding shotgun when I closed the door on her and went around to get in myself. I tossed my purse into the back seat. The hound nose, ever vigilant and on the lookout for food, stuck up in the air, The Pig launched herself over the seat where she proceeded to snuffle around in the bag for the source of the odor she had detected. I just managed to retrieve the bag of cashews before she wolfed it down, plastic and all.

I drove to several places — the library, the grocery store, health food store. My last errand was to be the outdoor nursery. Since it was at the end of the list, I thought I’d take her out, put her on the leash, and let her trot around the plants and get some fresh air. She was happy to do that. And then, just as we were coming down the home stretch, she crouched on the path. I was mortified and fearful that she was taking a poop. Relief flooded over me when I discovered it was just pee. The Pig had made her statement pee, perhaps stating that she knew my errands were all a ruse to keep her away from the kitchen. She’s canny, not stupid. It felt rather good to be back in the saddle again with The Pig calling the shots.