I woke up the other night staring straight into the face of a pug.
Imagine going from dreaming about dancing with the Malaysian cheerleading squad on top of a mountain of solid gold bricks to staring into the all-too alert eyes of an asthmatic pug with crooked teeth and breath that could have only been created through a delicate balance of dog food, other dogs’ rear ends and the cornucopia of items she routinely puts in her mouth throughout the course of a typical day.
It was unsettling, to say the least.
Actually, at first glance, it wasn’t all that bad. I’ve been battered this week with whatever summer cold is making its rounds, and when I first opened my eyes to discover Bailey staring at me, I thought it was just another fun adventure in the world of Nyquil-induced hallucinations. You know the kind I mean — you get all goofy and sleepy from taking the pills, and the next thing you know there’s a few extra fingers on your hand or Bob Bertram is driving up and down Route 17 in a Prius and ...
But I digress.
What started out as confusion quickly turned into irritability. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am crazy about my dogs, and Bailey certainly has a special soft spot in my heart. There’s just something about walking through that door after a long day at work and having that little face go crazy in the hallway, with that curled-up little tail moving around like a propellor. She loves to follow me around from room to room, and we just generally spend a lot of time together.
But this is my pillow we’re talking about here. It’s where I put my face and head. It’s where I dream of Malaysian cheerleaders and mountains of gold bricks. It is not a place for little dogs who shed and breathe like Darth Vader after running wind sprints.
Somewhere along the line, I have gone from master of my domain to roommate to a 14-pound dog.
Oh, there have been other signs of the power shift in my home. Bailey has never been a dog to respond immediately to a command that does not involve her receiving a treat, but there was always some level of respect there. If she heard an angry tone in my voice, she would usually stop whatever it was she was doing, pull that Cinnabun-shaped tail between her legs and become instantly subserviant for about seven minutes. But now?
Well, last week I walked into the bedroom and found Bailey trying to get to something in the trash can. I mustered up my best authoritative voice, bellowed out a command to cease and desist all trash-related activity and stood very ominously, with my hands on my hips and my best Marine face pointed in her direction.
Okay, it wasn’t a human laugh, like the one Jaime McNamee gives me when I try to tell her something at work. No, this was more of a knowing look on her grill, a shrug of tiny shoulders and a wink.
This is when I should have taken control. This is when I should have picked her up, stared straight into her eyes and scared her straight with a rampage of verbal commands and other authoritative stuff I’ve picked up from Clint Eastwood movies over the years.
That’s what I should have done.
What I did was laugh, bend over to pet her head and went out to the kitchen to get her a treat for being so cute. My other dog, Guinness, covered her face with humiliation for me. She knew I had my chance, and I had forever blew my opportunity of having any control over the pug which runs roughshod over both of our lives.
And now the two of us share a pillow. It happens that quickly.