Love Is A Four Legged Word

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My daughter calls it Camp Gram. The camp is located in a serene country setting with an incredible view. It terms of creature comforts, the camp comes equipped with all the attention two yellow Labs could possible need. The makeshift “pampered-pet” animal shelter is exclusively a place of lodging for the two dogs belonging to our daughter and son-in-law. Actually, that’s not totally correct. When my son’s family comes to visit, they also bring their two dogs that I have endearingly named “Trouble” and “More Trouble.”

You are probably wondering, so I’ll simply provide full disclosure. The answer is “Yes.” “Yes” there are times that we have the dubious honor of keeping all four dogs in our home. Add Barnabas (The Honorary General’s treasured Yorkie) to the mix and you’ve got trouble personified. Sometimes I simply want to bark back, but I’m sure no one would offer me a treat for doing so.

The thing that puzzles me is how the Honorary General can consistently come across so pleasant and kind when she’s talking “baby-talk” to any of those yelping dogs. At times I think it is purposeful passive-aggressive behavior on her part. She does it because she knows it drives me a little crazy. How can she (she being the Honorary General) bark at me one minutes and be so “lovey-dovey” with those dogs the next? It just doesn’t add up.

When I left for work yesterday morning, I submerged the “night-guard” I use at night in Polident. I purposefully left it throughout the day for a long over-due cleaning. If I confessed how long it had been since it was last cleaned, you’d find it disgusting. You’d probably also say I have no right to complain about a dog’s breath. Mine probably isn’t a lot better if the night-guard has been in my mouth.

At any rate, when I got in from work yesterday, I retrieved the night-guard, rinsed the container out in the bathroom sink and walked with it to the kitchen. I’m a creature of habit. I set the glass in the kitchen sink. It was like she had eyes in the back of her head. “Put that in the dishwasher” was the immediate command. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I pulled open the dishwasher. As I was pulling it open, I noticed the blue light was illuminated. Well, it was illuminated for a brief second. As I opened the door to add my glass to the dishwasher,  I closed it again without doing so. The light went off.

It was not a sign that the world was coming to an end. Actually, it should have been no big deal. The owner/operator of Camp Gram provided verbal gentle redirection with an undercurrent growl attached. “Why did you open the dishwasher?” Was she delusional? She just said, “Put that in the dishwasher.” I immediately did as I was instructed.

“No”, the Honorary General wasn’t finished, “You should have seen the blue light.” I responded, “I saw the blue light just as I opened the door. You should be thanking me for not putting my dirty glass in the dishwasher.”

Perhaps you folks can explain it to me. How can Gram (aka-the Honorary General) exercise the patience of Job when it comes to the canine creatures and at the same time bark orders at me when I don’t get it right? I guess I should be thankful she doesn’t bite.

I’ve heard the expression, “It’s a dog’s life.” Generally the expression indicates some level of hardship or unpleasantness. Let me tell you, “At Camp Gram, ‘It’s a dog’s life’ is synonymous for ‘ease and comfort.’ I only wish I had it so well!”

Let me make it perfectly clear, “Love may be a four legged word”, but I am not (repeat –“am not”) sharing my bed with two Labs. Both dogs sleep soundly during the day on the cool tile of our home. Why then would one think it is a prerequisite for the dogs to get a “good night’s sleep” for them to share our bed? The owner/operator of Camp Gram would tell you that it is because the dogs are used to sleeping with their owners. That makes no sense to me! For one thing, “We are not their owners”. The dogs do perfectly well sleeping on the tile floor. Secondly, “Camp Gram is not their home.” Why not teach them to adapt to a more “dog like lifestyle” when they are with us? If you spoil a kid rotten, they get used to privilege and anticipate that’s the only kind of treatment they’ll ever receive. The same could be said of dogs.

I am adamant. I am not going to share my bed with two 85-pound Labs. It isn’t going to happen. That is why I have options when the Labs check in for “a let me spoil you rotten” weekend experience at Camp Gram. I find that I have choices. I can sleep in the upstairs bedroom or either of the other two bedrooms on the main floor.

Saturday morning when I was pulling weeds, the owner/operator of Camp Gram let the two Labs out to play in the back yard. In no longer than it takes to say, “Please tell me she didn’t”, one of the labs was licking me in the face. It was not (I repeat) it was not a feel-good moment.

Actually, the dog and I eventually had a game going. Every time I bent over to pull weeds, the dog processed that it was an open invitation to lick me in the face. I may be a slow learner, but I didn’t pull many more weeds that day.

Andrea and Kevin returned from their out-of-town trip late Saturday night. The dogs were really glad to see them. It should come as no surprise, I was glad to see them as well.

Andrea could hardly wait to tell me the good news. While they were away, she found the most perfect sign. She wanted it for their home.   The sign read, “Love is a four legged word.”

It may be a “dog’s life”, but it is pretty extraordinary when it takes place at “Camp Gram.” I’m grateful to live here year round.

All My Best!

Don

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