My wife, Malathi, loves dogs. She calls them "Sweetie." She also calls me "Sweetie." I don't know whether to smile or wag my tail.
It's really confusing. The other day, Malathi said, "Dinner is ready, Sweetie." I rushed to the kitchen, along with the dogs. "Silly dogs," I thought. "You're not getting any of my dinner." The meal looked delicious, and I would have complimented my wife, had she not placed it on the floor.
The two dogs got to the food before I could. Their heads, unfortunately, are closer to the floor. That allows them to quickly slurp food and anything else that looks remotely like food, such as dirty socks or tofu. If you own a dog, you may not need a vacuum cleaner.
Within a minute, the dogs -- a Labrador and Golden Retriever -- had licked their bowls clean and were looking up at us with expressions that said, "Come on, folks. When are you going to feed us?" Even if they've just eaten a big meal, they want to keep eating. They're a lot like me. Except that I'm too proud to beg. When the dogs are wolfing their food, I try not to sit in front of them and drool. Unfortunately, they never extend the same courtesy to me. I can't eat anything without enduring their sad-eyed expressions that say, "Oh please, we haven't eaten any food since last summer, when we ate all your tennis balls. If you don't feed us, we'll fill your entire home with drool."
The dogs aren't ours. We're just dog-sitting, until their owners return from vacation. Dog-sitting is a lot like baby-sitting, except for three major differences: (1) babies have trouble catching food with their mouths; (2) babies are usually uglier; and (3) babies are nicer to trees.
Most dogs in America are so lucky. They're fed and treated better than many children around the world. And they never have to do the dishes. You can't even get them to take the trash out. They must have a powerful union.
My wife knows a lot about dogs. She's a veterinarian specializing in epidemiology. It took me three weeks to learn how to spell "epidemiology" and another three weeks to learn how to pronounce it. I still don't know what it means. All I know is that Malathi loves animals, especially dogs. She kisses them and pets them and talks to them, making me wish I had four legs.
I think she likes dogs partly because they're better listeners than men. When she's telling one of her long stories -- usually about something amazing she heard on NPR (National Public Radio) -- the dogs will just sit there and listen attentively. I know what they're thinking: "If we sit still and act interested, maybe she'll feed us." Dogs are smarter than they look.
I don't mind Malathi babying the dogs, but I wish it weren't so confusing. The other night, she said, "Are you coming to bed, Sweetie?" I rushed to the bedroom, along with the dogs. "Silly dogs," I thought. "You're not snuggling in bed with us. Not until you learn to use mouthwash."
The Labrador jumped on the bed before I could. I looked at my wife. She looked at me with a puzzled expression that said, "Did someone call YOU to bed?" Then she petted the dog.
"He's going to be with us for only a short time," she said.
"OK, Sweetie," I said. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she said.
"I was talking to the dog," I said.
Dogs are Enjoying The Good Life
Copyright 2001 Melvin Durai
Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist. A native of India, he grew up in Zambia and moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s.