I’ve come to find out my dog is homophobic. Or she could possibly be jealous, or maybe she has a Victorian sense of propriety, but Bungee does not take kindly to my hugging Other Bill. Each time one of my arms goes around his waist or two arms around his neck, Bungee will run into the room and start barking at us until we stop.
She reminds me a little bit of Other Bill’s Aunt Eleanor. Eleanor was not cantankerous or mean spirited, but could easily be mistaken for cranky. She didn’t take shit from anyone, and when she said no, there was not a sole on earth who could change her mind to say yes. When she wanted her way, she got her way, and she liked making her way known.
The day of Bill’s mother’s funeral, we were in the kitchen where his mom had cooked us hundreds of meals. Other Bill had a flashback of one of those meals while remembering that no matter what, a meal in that house would never be the same again. I saw tears filling his eyes and put my arms around him and held him tightly. Eleanor, who was also in the room, turned around and saw us, and apparently she thought we were having a moment of passion instead of a moment of grief.
“STOP IT!” she barked. “STOP THIS BUSINESS!”
Instantly, the weeping stopped and turned into laughter, just as she was realizing that she misinterpreted our reason for being tactile and muttered, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought—” and the sentence was never completed.
That was nine years ago, and now neither of us says, “Stop it” without adding on the addendum, “Stop this business.”
And now Aunt Eleanor is gone, but apparently a part of her ended up in our dog. “Stop it!” Bungee barked the other day when I was teaching Other Bill how to waltz out on the patio, “Stop this business!”
What is it about dogs and the things they eat? I don’t know if it’s just the boxer breed, or if all dogs behave like this, but anything that tastes either bad or like nothing at all has to be eaten and sent through the digestive system.
Our former boxer, Murphy, whom we inherited after their two owners died, was just like that. She ate, for example, drywall. Nothing quite like the taste of powdery plaster stuff encased in thick paper to put a smile on her pushed-in face. And we couldn’t keep a Frisbee in the house to save our lives.
Murphy was no retriever. You’d flip the Frisbee across the yard, and she’d chase it, grab it in her mouth, lie down and start chewing on it. I accidentally left her in the fenced yard alone once, only to discover that the latest Frisbee (one that glowed in the dark) was nowhere to be found. One night after a heavy rain, I went out back with her and noticed tiny star-like specks glowing in the grass. It was magical, like Tinkerbell fairy dust. On closer inspection, the glowing confetti was just undigested glow-in-the-dark Frisbee that had been pooped out and scattered by the shower.
Murphy had been trained, oddly enough, to quit her sniffing around and hurry up and poop. She would now and then respond to the command “Business” to do this.
“Murphy: BUSINESS,” Gary used to say. Usually she would just turn around and look at him like: What do you mean, BUSINESS? Am I supposed to run and get my steno pad? After Gary died I no longer used this command. I’d just let her out in the back yard. She could business when she wanted to.
In order to maintain peace, I continue to occupy a bed with a noisemaker. Other Bill cannot or will not go to sleep unless the television is on. Conversely, I need absolute silence and stillness in order to sleep. Breathing will wake me up. My ideal sleeping spot would be in an insulated coffin off stage in a sound-proof booth, as they used to say in the game shows. Other Bill lies in bed, wearing ear buds plugged into the TV, but I can still hear the noise coming out of them. So I have to wear industrial foam earplugs.
And I have to buy several hundred pair a year. This is because early in the wee hours, the industrial foam earplugs start to hurt my inner ear so much I pull them out and put them in one of a hundred choice spots, all of which are known to Bungee. It is quiet then unless there is snoring, so I can just continue sleeping without the plugs in my ears.
And when I wake up, they’re gone. No matter where I put them—and I’ve left them in and under the bed, under my pillow and on the nightstand—Bungee has already put them in her stomach. She thinks they are Snausages. So after a rain, the back yard is filled with neon yellow, bullet-shaped little foam inserts that are good to no one. And all I can do is order more.
Bungee likes to let us know when she is ready for some freshly bought dog food. Along about the time the 40 pound bag of food is about 80% empty, she will insist it’s stale and that it’s time for new food. Even though she can talk, (or at least say, “Stop this business!”) she likes to inform us of her decision that she’s not eating anything else from That Bag by shitting somewhere inside. Usually on furniture.
We naturally always assume she is sick again and do what the doctor who charged us $600 did the first time this happened: We stop feeding her for a day or two. This only pisses her off. We will give her a morsel of Expensive Canned Food That Only Vets Can Sell a few times a day. She likes that, but she wants more, and we are afraid to give her more, because we’re worried she’ll shit in the house, which she does no matter what we do. But she will continue her protest, ratcheting it up to another level. Not only will she shit in the house, but she will eat the shit and then vomit it up all over the two-room domain she rules over while we are at work. We had so much shit-puke in so many places in our house one day that I considered just coming inside wearing a hazmat suit and brandishing a pressure washer. That stuff gets in your tile grout and will not come out no matter what. The smell is worse than rotting flesh. We have to open all the windows and wrap crime scene tape at the perimeter of the property. Eventually she will just come to reason and continue eating what she considers to be stale food.
It’s all very futile of her, because the end result is still the same: She eats the old food until it’s gone. I don’t know why she just doesn’t just stop it.
Stop this business.