Fudge is our old man. We think he’s around ten (remember, he was a pound find), and he’s showing his age. His legs want to go in opposite directions when he skids to a stop, his allergic ears spend at least half of every month infected, and he’s also prone to hot spots and skin infections. Not bad when you consider he’s 70 in dog years. Or that he spent around 30 or of those years fighting off obesity.
Most mornings, he gets up around 6. Then he stands at the office door and ticky-tacks his toenails on the hardwood laminate until someone gets annoyed and wakes up to let him out. Typically, this is Caroline. And it actually probably doesn’t even occur to her to be irritated. She then goes out and scoops him some breakfast and fills up his water. Without being asked. Of course, now that I’ve typed that, I’ve probably jinxed this streak of responsibility, but it’s fantastic. My kids don’t fight over who has to feed the dog. They fight over who gets to feed the dog.
If, for some reason, a different member of the family wakes up first (I’m looking at Sam right now), Fudge waits for Caroline. If Sam fills his bowl, or if I do, or if Scott does, the dog might come by and sniff it, then nibble it throughout the day. But if Caroline
feeds him, he stands in the middle of the kitchen noisily inhaling the meal, wagging his whip of a tail so that it smacks into everyone in a certain radius. In fact, if Caroline isn’t up first, and if Fudge himself doesn’t get up ahead of the family, Fudge has been known to stay in his bed in the office until he has to pee so badly that he suddenly leaps to his feet and starts moaning at the door. Which means that when he wakes up first and one of us besides Caroline ultimately lets him out, we get this hangdog look, like we have abused him by letting him go take a leak.
In his mind, he is her dog.
And that means that school days, days when she leaves at 7:30 and doesn’t get back until 3:30, Scott and I will see almost nothing of the dog. This, even though I work from home and Scott teaches nights and sits at his home office computer during the day. Fudge will tick-tack into the office, make annoying mouth noises in his sleep until I get vexed and banish him to the living room, get up for drinks of water and to go outdoors a couple of times. But that’s about all.
When Caroline gets home, he suddenly reanimates and becomes obstreperous (well, as much as a dog who never barks * will ever be) following her from room to room, flopping down under the kitchen table where she can feed him from her plate behind my back, and sitting outside the kitchen begging when I catch them in the act. I’m not sure when he made this switch. He used to be pretty much my dog. But the move came well before she started delivering the morning kibble. In fact, it took place at some point during the year-long phase where she jabbed sticks in his face all the time, convinced he might chase one if she just poked him hard enough with it. (Yes, we did prevent her harming him. No, she didn’t stop doing it.)
The rest of his day is then spent either staying as close to Caroline as possible or else running outside because the kids’ loud playing is driving him crazy again. At night, he could sleep in Caroline’s bedroom if he wanted to. It would thrill her to no end. But he prefers his office bed, or else the couch. It’s an old man’s life. It’s a dog’s life. And he seems happy.
* Fudge chooses not to bark. We have not ever done anything to merit this gift. I don’t know if it was trained into him by his previous family, or if he’s just naturally like that, but I can count on one hand the number of times something had caused Fudge to vocalize.
I thought it might be nice to write a post without a writing prompt. Yeah right. I totally misread the prompt over at Mama Kat’s and wrote eight paragraphs instead of eight lines. I’m linking up anyway.