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Breakfast, to most people, means toast, cereal, eggs, bacon, smoothies, etc.

To normal dogs, breakfast means a bowl of kibble, perhaps some small table scraps, and some water as a chaser.

I have been dog-sitting for my neighbor’s dog for three weeks.  To say she is a handful would be an understatement. A brown lab puppy, she has more energy and stamina than four of me. Plus, she weighs 2/3 of what I weigh. And, when she stands on her hind feet, she’s taller. Observers would be forgiven for thinking she’s the one in charge. To her, breakfast could reasonably consist of two t.v. remotes, a sock (mine), a rain boot, a large California pine cone (for roughage, presumably), and several pounds of stuffing from dozens of dog toys that litter my house. She eventually gets to the kibble and wolfs it down in under 15 seconds.

Add to this the fact that I’ve been sick with a terrible summer cold, and you have a recipe for disaster. I feel badly that Gill has been the primary recipient of my rants about Hershey’s bad behavior. I did make one irate phone call to L’il Sis to vent, but she has moved to Toronto with her new boyfriend and has started a new job. All of my reinforcements have left town!

My first email to Gill explained, whilst my teeth were clenched:    “I thought it was only hounds that ate electronics…” We were accustomed to Elvis (The Coonhound) eating phones, leather belt buckles and pieces of select electronics. The Pig ate a variety of non-nutritional items (including her wire crate).” But I returned, after a 30-minute swim, to find Hershey contentedly gnawing on a television or stereo remote (not sure which since I don’t know which room it came from). She had managed to get the back off the thing and was one tooth away from chowing down on the batteries!I was only gone 30 minutes!”

“Maybe you could put her in her crate while you’re gone…”

“Oh, don’t think I haven’t! After the first night she spent with me, she was in the crate every night. Granted, the first night was special. Being Canada Day, fireworks went off about 10 p.m. She felt it necessary to let me know that they were happening and also that she didn’t approve of the noise. She did that by trying to drown out the fireworks sound by barking. When they ended, I put the lights out and went to sleep — for two hours until somebody started setting off more fireworks. Hershey was instantly at attention, on guard, barking to protect me from the obvious menace. She settled again — until1 a.m. when somebody dared pass by on the sidewalk in front of my house. Hershey barked again to warn me. Then, at 3 a.m., the water softener kicked in — a noise I could barely hear from two flights above. But Hershey heard. And barked. I decided then and there that, for my sanity, she would be ‘slammered’ at night. She now hates the crate and, to trick her into it, I have to lure her with a food treat and then, when she’s otherwise occupied with the food, I ram her ass into the crate and lock her in. I feel guilty but it’s my only option.”

“Wow…remind me never to cross you, Ma! How come you never used a crate with us kids when we misbehaved?”

“Don’t think the idea didn’t cross my mind. But I knew that you three had big mouths and might tell the wrong person — not that every mother I know hasn’t wanted, at some point, to crate her children.”

“Oh, you complain, Ma, but I know you love having her around.”

“Oh, sure…but there’s ‘around’ and there’s ‘around. I take a bath and she leans over the tub and licks me. I wash my hair and when I reach for the towel lying on the rim of the tub and put it over my head, I soon discover that a large hairy face is in there with me. She loves to be close, ‘helping’. I rub lotion on my legs after the tub and out lashes the tongue — removing the lotion faster than I can apply it. I think I should spread lotion on her kibble to ‘season’ it to her taste. I bend over to lace up my sneakers and the tongue is right there, taking another swipe at my face. My shoes finally done  up, we go downstairs — she, cutting in front of me, almost tripping me in the process. For shit’s sake, I already broke one bone in my foot this year! After lunch I go upstairs for a nap only to find her on the bed (on my side), grinning foolishly, seemingly asking, ‘What took you so long?’ I haven’t had this much attention since you three kids were little and you’d line up in front of the toilet when I did my business.”

“Well, there you see. At least we didn’t eat remotes for breakfast! Perhaps this is the universe’s way of telling you things weren’t that bad when you had us watching your every move. At least we didn’t have long sticky tongues and smell like wet dog.”

“So YOU say…”