Once again, as referenced in my very first blog post, I am dogsitting. As usual, it’s like we’re following some kind of wacky sitcom script. I intended to save this story for another day, but I know how much my mother is looking forward to it.
Lest you think Rikki is my sole source of entertainment on these occasions, let it not be said that Molly is deficient in this regard. Molly is, as previously mentioned, the world’s largest golden retriever. She weighs in around 150 pounds. For those of you who don’t have experience with the breed, the average golden retriever weighs about 80. She’s not overweight -- she’s just huge. The vet will attest to this. She can rest her chin on the dining room table without difficulty. She’s big and powerful, but luckily for all of us, she has a sweet disposition.
Since my parents moved to their big new house in the woods, Molly has attained a distinction she was never given at their old home. At the old home, she had a large fenced-in yard in which she had the freedom to run around as she chose. Here at the new place, she has a new trick -- she gets taken for walks, on the leash, like a real dog. She's extremely proud of this, especially since it's a privilege the other two don't share. She gets to be special.
The first time I was introduced to this particular novelty, my mother had me hook on the leash and take Molly out to collect the mail. The mailbox sits at the end of their long driveway, so it really is a bit of a walk. This went well. Naturally, I expected it to go equally well in their absence. Of course it did not.
At first it was fine. We trotted around the front yard aimlessly, looking for just the right spot for her to do what she needed to do. The beautiful dog next door, Wolfie, was out so we went to say hello; he’s a sweetheart and he and Molly are good friends. Then, without ceremony, she flopped down on her belly in the middle of the lawn and beamed at me as a dog does.
“Molly,” said I, glancing around in case any of my parents’ neighbors were out, “you can’t stay here.”
She wagged her tail.
“No, really. Get up.” I pulled on the leash. Considering her size, this achieved exactly nothing. “We have to go inside now.”
Wag. Smile. I think she might even have winked.
This went on so long that I was convinced the neighbors were making popcorn and would be coming out any second to enjoy the spectacle. In desperation I pulled out my cell phone and called my husband, then put the phone next to Molly’s ear so he could attempt to reason with her. This also failed, but at least the neighbors must have gotten a good laugh. Finally, Wolfie came back out and said something that I, silly human, couldn’t understand, but it convinced her to go inside. I’m not even making that up -- she went in because the dog next door barked at her.
I can only imagine how the conversation must have gone.
Wolfie: Molly, what are you doing?
Molly: Making Aunt Laura look stupid.
Wolfie: While I approve of your initiative, this particular effort will mostly just accomplish mucking up your beautiful coat with grass and mud. This is a trick best saved for the middle of winter, when you’ll accomplish a lot more -- you’ll cool your belly, make your Aunt Laura look like an idiot, and get her sick.
Molly: Wolfie, you’re a genius. I’m going to go in right now and confuse her.
Once inside, it seemed like the best thing to do was to try to get her to eat her supper. See, while Molly now goes for walks on a leash like a real dog, she doesn’t eat like a real dog. She seems to forget, in between meals, that she actually likes dog food and that she requires regular servings of it to keep her belly content. So we have to play this game. (This isn’t just me, incidentally. This is part of my parents’ daily lives.)
I prepared the meal by emptying two cans of dog food onto a paper plate. She will only eat one specific kind of dog food, although I’m avoiding naming the brand because I’m not sure about legalities. Two cans are needed because of her size; again, we’re not overfeeding her and she’s not fat. Just enormous. Think of her as being like Clifford the Big Red Dog’s little cousin. Once it was all prepped, I brought the plate over to her and put it on the floor.
“Molly, eat your food.”
As usual, she looked at me like she thinks I’m insane. I then had to prove her right by muttering baby talk -- or rather, Molly-speak -- while forcing her jaws apart and putting a piece of dog food far enough back in her mouth that she actually chewed and swallowed rather than spitting it back out. This little maneuver is one of the main reasons we’re lucky she has such a sweet temper, since otherwise I probably would have lost a few fingers by now. She ate it, then looked contemplative. I do like this, don’t I? Should I eat it? I don’t want to give the humans the idea that I’m easily satisfied. They have to be kept in line, and I‘ve been training them for so long I don‘t want to give up now.
“Molly, eat your food.”
To my astonishment, Sheela the living throw pillow exerted herself so far as to leave the sofa long enough to eat a little of the food. This was acceptable to Molly, who would allow Sheela to take the food right out of her mouth if Sheela were so inclined.
“Molly, eat your food.”
She shook her head.
“Eat your food! You gotta eat your food.” More Molly-speak. She ignored me.
One day she will eat her food like a real dog. I think.