My Dogs are from Egypt

         Wasn’t it the Egyptians who revered their animals? It seems like I remember ridiculous importance being placed on them. Tiny little feline mummies filled with riches for their animal afterlife come to mind.

            I have a friend who thinks domestic animals should be pets. She thinks they should be fed properly, petted occasionally and above all, kept OUTSIDE.

            She sees me with a car full of wildly yelping livestock, all franticly sliming my windows with saliva and steamy dog breath. They frantically wrap me like a maypole with their leashes, both beside themselves over the idea of a walk.

            If they are so excited about trotting around the neighborhood, I wonder why they don’t just go by themselves. But they never do. They will only go with me.

            I grimace and moan and mutter, “These dogs are driving me crazy!” My friend says flatly, “Why don’t you keep them outside; make them outside-dogs?”

            I look at her like she just suggested I never allow my children inside the house. Wait…..that’s not a bad idea at all. Change that to: I look at her like she suggested I treat my tiny little Sophie – the little girl I never had, and Bubba, the kindest-natured creature I’ve ever known, like common farm animals.

I can’t imagine not having them inside in the evenings. Sophie curls up in my lap under a quilt, and Bubba rests his head in my husband’s lap and stares up at him with sheer gratitude as Dan scratches his ears.

            At dinner, they wrestle with each other under the table. Sophie is about the size of Bubba’s  head, but she turns him until both his shoulders are pinned. He is oblivious to this defeat and rolls from side to side gleefully.

            We all stand around and marvel as Sophie stands upright and takes tiny ballerina steps around the kitchen. We stop what we are doing and watch Bubba as he gazes soulfully off the deck, seemingly appreciating my garden. My big hulking boys lie on the floor and talk baby talk to these dogs.

            We are not the only ones who get pleasure from our animals. My neighbor slips over in the evenings with tidbits of steak for the two of them. She brings her grandchildren to visit my dogs.

            “Feel his ears,” she says, stroking them. “They are like velvet.” As the grandchildren are properly awed, Sophie pirouettes on her hind legs, snatching kisses from the smallest toddlers.

            My brother, who lives in New York City and doesn’t have a dog, strokes Bubba’s head and says wistfully, “This is the exact dog I’ve always wanted.”

            Bubba and Sophie chase each other through the house like bad children, scrunching up rugs and skidding around corners. I know this should not be amusing. I never would have let my children behave this way. But the fact that the dogs have been home alone all day with ample opportunity for chasing and only now that WE are home can they not contain themselves….

They think the sun rises when WE get up and sets when WE rest. If we are apart for half an hour, they spend at least that long groveling and greeting and not believing their good fortune that we have returned to them. If we go from the kitchen to the living room, they follow us. If we walk out in the cold icy night, they accompany us. I suppose if we walked through the gates of Hell, the two of them would be right by our sides.

And I don’t think those Egyptians were ridiculous at all.

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