Dear Layla

You’re leaving me behind?

You’re leaving me behind?

Happier times on Jockey’s Ridge

Happier times on Jockey’s Ridge

I’m sorry but we’ll be traveling a few days and we can’t take you. Please don’t hold it against us. There’s no use trying to convincing the airline folks that you’re a service dog. The first time you howl at the flight attendants with your head in the air will give away the game.

We know you’re not a fan of kennels ever since the PG County Animal Control people across the river caught you. So in our absence, you will be well provided for–in the comfort of your own home–by someone who you dearly love.

But we need to review the ground rules:

Rule 1. Please don’t bug Steve in the morning before he’s grunted at least once and sits up in bed. Forgive his awkward ritual of the shoving on of pants, then shoes. He understands your need to pee in the morning, but he’s an older gentleman. Respect your elders is all I’m saying.

Rule 2. When setting out for a walk, don’t do that husky lunge to freedom thing. Yes, it’s a tradition among your brethren, but it’s now mid-May and there’s no snow for the sled.

Rule 3. Eat your crunchies. They may not taste as good as whatever you like to lick off the grass on our walks (ugh!) but you can fake it for a few days. I know you can. This is all about impulse control.

Rule 4. The living room couch remains off limits for the duration. Even if Steve brings Prince over to visit, rules of the house still apply. What Prince does in his house stays there.

Rule 5. The new turf was NOT installed for your peeing pleasure. Hiding your dumps in the ivy is also not acceptable. Do it where Steve can find it! If he steps in it, you’ll recall how well that went last time.

Rule 6. The orange tabby down the street is totally out of bounds. Yes, he’s a don’t-give-a-fig kind of feline, but aren’t they all asking for it? Don’t try persuading your caregiver that cats are acceptable game. The black squirrels are one thing, but the neighbors won’t speak to us if you eat their cat. Bad karma, very bad karma.

Rule 7. Two longish walks a day should suffice. Trying to convince Steve that you usually get four or five won’t work; we’ve already briefed him.

Rule 8. Remember you’re a middle age dog and act accordingly. Follow Prince’s example and practice calmness. Think of the Dalai Lama.

Rule 9. In the evening when the racoon family appears in the yard, growl fiercely once down from the deck and cease; your job is done. The neighbors will know all's well.

Rule 10. When Steve first observes how you sleep upside down on your back with your legs pressed against the bed’s end board and your head twisted 180 degrees in the other direction, don’t alarm him further by smiling. It’s just weird, so don’t do it.

Yes, we feel guilty as hell for leaving you.  Particularly when you watch us pack with your forlorn, I’m being abandoned expression; you should have studied theater as a puppy.  We promise to skype every night.  Anyway, you’ll forget all about this when Steve gets here. 


The Management

 (with a nod to Peter Mayle’s A Dog's Life and illustrations by Edward Koren)