Rudy, our Golden Retriever, has spent the day lying low. If he could become invisible, he would; in the absence of an invisibility cloak, he attempted to blend in with the furniture (see photo below). As well he might. They say that you have to reprimand dogs immediately when they break the rules, because they won’t remember their transgressions the next day, or even the next hour. They are wrong. Rudy knows he’s in big trouble. Maybe he doesn’t remember why (he does), but he knows better than to ask for any special favors today … or even breathe too loudly.
Rudy’s disgrace occurred yesterday, Christmas Day. My sister, Valencia,* her husband, Mike, and their children, Lana and Jack, invited our family to Christmas dinner at their house in New Jersey. Valencia insisted that we bring Rudy. They have a two-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever named Ozzie. Valencia assured me that the two dogs would get along wonderfully, even though they had never met.
At first, it appeared that my worries were for nothing and that Valencia was right. The dogs were initially wary of each other, but then they sniffed each others’ hind quarters and settled down. I had brought two enormous rawhide bones for them; one was pure white and one was a darker tan. I gave the lighter one to Rudy and the darker one to Ozzie. The kids and I took the dogs into the yard and tossed a ball around for them to fetch. After awhile, we went back into the house. In the kitchen, the dogs were just standing around the kitchen table when Ozzie decided that he needed to demonstrate who the alpha dog was in their house. So he started to mount Rudy. It happened in an instant and if you missed it, like my sister and brother-in-law did, you wouldn’t have known what set off the ensuing dog fight in the kitchen. Rudy, who is generally too lazy to bark for more than attention or food, bared his teeth and snarled. His snarling turned into angry barking at Ozzie. Ozzie barked back in equal anger. We were able to separate them before limbs were torn off. Poor Ozzie was at loose ends. It was his house and he deserved to call the shots, but this seven-year-old Golden seemed to think that he was the boss.
We tried to get the dogs to make up, which was just plain ridiculous. They don’t exactly kiss or shake hands. But, in time, they were able to co-exist in the same space, although they kept their distance from each other. In any event, they seemed peaceful, so we went back to preparing the dinner. Rudy went to the door to go out. Valencia let him out and noticed that he had Ozzie’s bone. He went out and hid it somewhere and came back in. Ozzie then had to go out with Rudy’s bone. Then the fun really started. Rudy went to Ozzie’s pile of Christmas presents and grabbed his stuffed animals and slobbered all over them. Then he went outside, found a big mud puddle and rolled in it. Before I was able to drag him into the house, he grabbed Ozzie’s bone from where he had hidden it. Back in the house, he headed for the living room, where he plopped his filthy body onto the floor. I cleaned him and the floor up while he gnawed on Ozzie’s bone, with Ozzie observing the proceedings from a safe distance. Then I went back into the kitchen.
My nephew, Jack, who had a fever and was resting on the couch, called me back into the living room. He thought that I should know that Rudy had vomited on their rug. Back to the kitchen I went to get cleaning supplies. As I cleaned up the pile, it became obvious that this wasn’t real vomit. It wasn’t slimy or anything. This looked like Rudy had filled his mouth with chewed up rawhide and water and spit it out.
Then it was dinner time. I filled Rudy’s bowl and Valencia filled Ozzie’s. Ozzie decided that Rudy’s dry kibble was far superior to his, so he bogarted Rudy’s dinner. Rudy sniffed at Ozzie’s bowl and rejected it, even though it had his favorite wet food mixed in with the dry kibble. Instead, he took a big gulp of water and disappeared from the room. Moments later, Jack called me back into the living room to point out another pile of rawhide bits sitting in water.
You have to realize that dinner preparations were in the works, and appetizers and drinks had been put out for us and their neighbors, so this subplot was evolving in the midst of revelry. Not everyone was aware of it, just the kids, and the mothers, who had to subdue the dog-induced mayhem.
After awhile, we all sat down to dinner and had a wonderful time. My brother-in-law is a wonderful cook and my sister is a marvelous hostess. We decided to ignore Rudy, who periodically turned up with Ozzie’s stuffed animals, Lana’s stuffed animals, and anything he could stuff into his mouth and contaminate. Ozzie was always in the same room as Rudy, but never too close, as if he were saying, “Look, I’m a good dog. I’m nothing like that horrible Rudy.” All in all, it was a great day. I don’t think Rudy will be invited back again, but I’m hoping we will.
* Valencia isn’t her real name. My mother never would have named her after a type of orange. The other names were changed, as well, but not as creatively.