The aliens’ apprentice


Perhaps the only thing that figures more prominently in our children’s lives than crayons (aside from Mommy and Daddy, that is) is dogs. We have two of them, an 11-year-old Classic American Brown Dog named Bo,

and a 10 month old St. Bernard mix named Smudgie.

None of our little blessings have ever known a home without canine companionship.  I fervently hope they never will.  Smudgie and Bo are their friends, protectors, comforters, and playmates; there is a nightly argument over which child will have the privilege of feeding which dog, and for all the tears over puppy teething being the agent of toy destruction, when one of the kids is distraught over some reproof, she or he heads straight for the nearest dog.  Bo, being a bit of a cantankerous codger, tends to head for higher ground when he sees a small person approaching, which means that Smudgie’s humongous, furry shoulder tends to be their favorite crying spot.  I always have to suppress a smile when the little miscreant comes to apologize for misbehaving with long, silky fur pasted to dried tears.  It generally earns the offender a cookie (and a quick pass with a wipe or two) while we talk about how to behave in the future.

Mr. Man loves all things that belong to “his” dogs (if one of his sisters attempts to hug or pet one of them within his eyeshot, he will generally holler “MINE!” at her); he brings them their chew toys and has tried to chew on most of them himself, will lovingly feed them their food one piece at a time, and has even been known to smooth his beloved blankie over them when they’re snoozing.  Of course, in his view, their best “toy” is their water dish.  Mr. Man is a water junkie; he always has a water bottle within easy reach.  Should he find his trusty Batman vessel empty, he thinks nothing of pilfering a cup from Bugaboo’s tea set, filing it from their dish, and taking a hearty swig.  Our pediatrician is firmly convinced that the key to his iron constitution (his current ear infection is, in fact, the only one he’s ever had, and he’s the one who generally gets the mildest case of any bug that goes through our house) is that he does things like this.  Interestingly, there’s a growing body of research that suggests he might be right.  If he’s not drinking out of the water dish, he is merrily splashing its contents all over the kitchen floor, and when I scramble into the kitchen to assess the flood damage, he smiles, grabs the nearest burpie, and crows, “Uh-oh!” as he begins swabbing the deck.

Our dogs, in other words, have learned to be as tolerant of the tiny people as the tiny people are adoring of them.  They bear indignities of all sorts patiently, perhaps with the understanding that the greater the suffering endured, the higher the likelihood of a Pupperoni payoff in their future.  There are, however, times when our little blessings convince me that our dogs know more about turning the other cheek than most people we know.  Today was one of them, and it came from the unlikely hand of Baby Guy.

Baby Guy is 6 months old, and his primary method of locomotion is the log roll, although he can manage a bit of an army crawl when he’s highly motivated.  He can, however, get up a pretty good head of steam with his rolling, so if I have to leave the room while he’s on the floor, I have to make sure that the baby gate at the top of our steps is secured, as he has come perilously close  to tumbling down them twice.  On this particular afternoon, however, Bo chose to take his afternoon siesta sprawled in such a manner as to completely block Baby Guy from leaving the room (he hasn’t figured out how to surmount physical barriers yet, and Bo weighs about 70 pounds, so, to a 6 month old, he is an immovable object).  Bearing this in mind, and since Baby guy was on the opposite end of the room from Bo, I decided this would be an opportune time to see what was happening on Facebook, as the other three tiny people were (noisily) otherwise occupied elsewhere in the house.

I was having a heart-pounding moment over the news that someone had shot at a school bus this afternoon when I heard the most threatening sound I have ever heard emanating from Bo.  In all seriousness, as I whipped around, I was looking for a weapon, because the pitch of his growl was such that I was completely convinced there was an intruder in the house.  Fortunately, I looked down to check Baby Guy’s whereabouts before I leapt off the couch to grab a vase . . . and thus discovered the cause of Bo’s ire.

I suppose Manie and I may have watched a little too much South Park, or perhaps watched one too many programs on SyFy, while Baby Guy was a belly dweller.  To my utter astonishment, Baby Guy was attempting to play a game of “I’ll be the alien, you be the abductee” with Bo.  If you have no idea what that means, this may help.  Suffice it to say that I managed to stop laughing long enough to remove Baby Guy and his hand from Bo’s general vicinity, which action earned me a long, LONG look from Bo before he decamped for the girls’ room in a huff that Zsa Zsa Gabor would have envied.

Notwithstanding the potential health benefits of Baby Guy’s actions, I washed his little hand quite thoroughly.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You created all the beasts of the earth, and somewhere along the line, You gave humanity the wisdom to befriend dogs.  Thank You for the faithful friends and guardians You have sent for Your blessings.  Please teach me to have as much patience with Your blessings as our dogs do, and to be as tolerant and forgiving of insults as they are.  You send us teachers constantly, Lord, and I thank You for showing me that some of the best ones go on four legs.

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