Feeding The Habit

"I will go in this Way, Oh but I will find my own way out." -Dave Matthews

Friday, June 04, 2004

House Guest

I had him by the back leg and he had my peanut-butter sandwich grasped firmly and dangling from his mouth. Together we looked kinda comical. It was almost like a TV sitcom and everything was happening just like we planned it: dog took the cue and grabbed prop, main actor lunged desperately flailing after dog and just barely snagged him. But there was nothing comical about this. My eyes were filled with rage and that little guy knew the thing was bigger now than the peanut-butter sandwich. It was about dominance and the simple ability to enjoy that fucking sandwich.

I could tell in the first few hours of being there it wasn’t going to be easy. “Here Boy, come get your supper,” I said all sweet and cute-like when I first arrived. (You always have to make friends with the dogs first). This dog had been sleeping and too busy at it to bother with me when I walked in. Now he came tearing around the corner. He slid sideways across the kitchen’s tiled floor with his legs going in no particular direction then came to a brief thud against the island bar. This act, which would have embarrassed most dogs I would think, didn’t even seem to get noticed. Instead the dog revved his feet at full throttle, knocked over a few stools, and came scampering over to where I was still trying to pour the brown stuff out. Now if the little beast would’ve had any manners, he would sit there and wait until I was done. Waiting was apparently the farthest thing from his mind. For the next moment or two all I could make out was muzzle and bits of dog food going everywhere. Somewhere in the backdrop too I could see this tail going. Eventually I got the bowl settled on the washer and was able to use both hands to pin the sucker down. I gave him a good holler and then he moped off back into the living room.

I swept up the mess, looked into the bowl marked “Codie” and sighed. There were maybe five pieces left in it. Just incase the dog hadn’t learned his lesson, I set the bowl on the ground this time and started pouring again. Sure enough, before I even finished there was a thud, scraping chairs, and this dog face-first in the bowl. The last few bits would have poured on top of his head if I didn’t raise the bag. I thought that would be it. He’d finish, which he already had, and I’d give him a treat. But the thing was, there were no treats. The Milk-Bone box was bone dry. This presented a problem as I stood there looking dumbfounded and Codie just glared at me angrily. I don’t like to deal with this sort of shit in my profession. I shrugged my shoulders attempting empathy and made to move forward thinking the dog would get out of the way. I was ready to check out the stereo and the thirty-seven inch TV I noticed on the way in. He wasn’t having it though. He tilted his head to the side and back a little. I could almost hear him, “Look, I ate this bowl of shit… now gimme my fucking treat. I deserve a treat.” Well, I couldn’t blame him. If I had to eat that crap I’d want a treat too. So I rummaged through the fridge past the pricey wines and Zip-Lock bags with fancy names on them and finally turned up some deli ham. I pulled a greasy slice out and handed it to Codie then wiped my hand on my jeans. The dog seemed content then and I went upstairs to hunt in the closet. I needed to find something that was a little more fitting to the grandeur of this house.

I was unfortunate enough to have the company of my new friend yapping along behind me. While this was a bit of a bother, I didn’t pay him much attention until he turned his yap into a snarl as I leafed through the grey and black suits. He was quite the guard dog weighing in probably around thirty pounds and standing two feet tall. Codie might even have held a minor presence if it weren’t for the rib bones poking through his sides. I wanted to laugh. “Back off mutt!” I yelled and stomped my foot. Dog are for weak people, people that need the validation of being loved. I don’t need it and don’t have the time for it. I just don’t want this hump of mange to get any ideas on taking a nip out of me. Codie just sat there though and flattened his ears back a little. This animosity was foreign to me. I fed him and even gave him some ham. What the hell did the dog want out of me? Stroking the back of his head seemed to calm him down a little but as soon as I went to trying on the pants he latched heavily onto the cuff and started tugging with all his might on them. “Forget it,” I said. A few steps and a hardy swing left the dog tumbling across the carpet and me standing there holding the tattered leg of the suit pants. As Codie came tearing back at me I gave up on the idea and dropped the clothes on the floor. That seemed to make him happy enough and he went back to yapping and trotting behind me like one of those miniature ponies as I inspected the rest of the house.

“You all got some sweet goods, don’tcha boy?” Codie’s tail went to wagging faster. I leaned back against the hallway wall and pulled out my can of Copenhagen. I gave it a few good thumps, twisted the top off and remarked, “You’re sure gonna miss it all when it’s gone.” Codie had no idea what I was talking about but he could smell the tobacco and figured that must be good. He took one bound and hit the bottom of the can square with his snout. That snuff went everywhere and I cussed him longer than I had ever sustained a good string of words before. Now I was down with the mutt on hands and knees trying to scrape up what could be saved and much to my dismay it wasn’t much. I shoved him off to the side. He came right back and set his tongue to licking right where my hands were. I shoved him back again and moved to a spot not drooled on. He came right back. I shoved and moved. He came back and lapped. Finally after a few minutes of this I threw in the lid and just let the dog have his way.

“Are you happy boy?”

“Ruff!” Codie just beamed. But that must have been about where it hit him. His eyes glazed over a little and the mouth opened wide. He let his tongue hang out, hunched his head over and just dragged himself along the wall until it ended. He was making this hacking noise the whole way. It occurred to me that I had no idea what would happen to a dog if it ate a whole can of snuff. The thought had never crossed my mind to test it out before. That would have just been a horrible waste of snuff. I did know how I felt when I swallowed some of my spit so I just imagined the dumb dog must be feeling it good right about now. Codie collapsed and rolled onto his back once he was out in the open room. He rolled back over after a few seconds and tried to throw up a little. It wasn’t like I could call the vet. The best thing to do was probably keep him company and hope for the best. I watched this house for a week so I knew the home owners wouldn’t be back for a few days. It wouldn’t hurt to be set behind schedule just a little.

After a couple of hours Codie fell into some sort of miserable sleep and I figured this would be about as good a time as any to start loading the Cherokee. TVs, Stereos, and electronics went out first. Those were always the easiest to front and usually got the highest prices. Lap tops were a rare find since folks always take them along but I personally had the luck of coming across one or two through the years. After that was the silver and collectables. This guy had a generous collection of hand guns and you can never have too many of those. Of particular interest though was the large display of miniature statues and eclectic boxes. I’ve heard these things are pretty pricey but seriously, who the hell would want to buy them? Picture frames though, those were like gold. The nice ones were anyway. A couple hundred of those at an antique shop could fetch almost half a grand. I spent nearly an hour ripping out pictures of this happy looking couple standing in front of landscapes of what must have been every foreign country out there. People are always so wasteful of their money. They think just because they inherited daddy’s company and every asset it had that they have no responsibility to the world around them. They never even give a thought to the ones dying all around them. Not even enough thought to feed their own dog.

Five hours later I was done. I couldn’t get the safe open so I jacked it out and put the whole damn thing in the back. If it weren’t for the uncertain fate of this dog I could go on my way. I had other things to do you know. But it just didn’t seem right to let the beast die alone. The jeep was filling up the third space in the garage so it didn’t make much difference. I decided to curl up beside the thing and sleep the morning through. Even if someone saw me leave it’s not like they could trace the jeep back to me. I smiled at this and dozed off to dreams of which pawn shop I would hit first.

When I woke up and looked at my watch it was three thirty. I scanned the room and saw Codie sitting proudly by the kitchen next to his puddle of vomit. The look on his face said “feed me.” Reluctantly I dragged myself up and did so. It was the same mess of jump kick and pour that I went through the previous night. Giving in, I decided to glare at him and let him eat the food off the floor. I didn’t give him a treat this time. If the bastard can’t sit still while I pour his food then he doesn’t deserve a treat. Having been sick the night before was no excuse. I told him so. Codie looked reproachful. Feeling my own hunger I sorted through the fancy crap and came up with a jar of peanut-butter and a loaf of “everything” bread. Now I still have no idea what everything bread is but the idea felt appealing. The peanut-butter got lathered thick on one slice and the other slice laid nicely on top. I had to laugh because there weren’t any dishes left to eat it on. Who only keeps fine china? I set the sandwich on the kitchen table and headed back to the fridge to find a beer. That’s when the dog made his last fatal move. He hopped up on the chair, grabbed the sandwich and made for the doorway. The dog darted. I lunged. There was terror in his eyes when I latched onto his leg and there was rage in mine.

“That’s my sandwich Bitch!” I shouted from my prostrate position. Codie could tell the urgency of the moment and his jaws started to go. He snapped his mouth shut and up like an alligator eating a steak-- devouring my sandwich one bite at a time. By the time I reeled him in hand over hand all that was left for me to pull out of his greedy mouth was one slobbery bite. I don’t think I had ever been so enraged. How could this little brat, after all the hassle I went through, steal the one thing I tried to enjoy? Man I needed a dip. Codie still sat there in front of me now sort of cowering down like he knew he did something wrong. I went through the cupboard list in my mind and tried to remember if I had seen any coffee. The verdict was none, only tea. I wished the pathetic mutt would have died the night before instead of putting me through this misery. His tail was moving back and forth on the floor. I looked at him for a moment in disgust. I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and held him up with his eyes leveled to mine. They told quite the story. He whimpered a little. The tail was curled delicately over his balls. I had enough. I considered throwing him into the shower and turning the cold water on full blast. The idea of finding some nice chemicals to feed him crossed my mind too, but I decided against it. I tucked him under one arm, grabbed the bag of dog food with the other, then walked out to the garage and set them both down in the back seat of my jeep. As I pulled the door closed, Codie hopped into the passenger seat and went to yapping. His tail was beating hard against the worn upholstery.


This story, though mostly fictitious, is based on a true dog. Please support you local Fuzzy Friends or animal rescue shelter by volunteering or adopting today!