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Getting Even

By Steve Smith

I picked up the phone in my office on the first ring because the Caller ID said it was from Sue, a Very Close Relative By Marriage. Since I'd left home only a half-hour earlier, and over coffee we'd talked about plans for after I got out of work, that could mean only one thing: Murphy.

I'm not clairvoyant; I just know my dog.

"Guess what your dog just did." Most of the time – almost always, actually, Murph is my dog.

"No idea – but I'll bet you called to tell me."

"I was getting ready to go shopping, she wanted to go and she was being a pest, so I shut her in our bedroom. She opened my purse, found a ten-dollar bill, and shredded it. I mean shredded."


"It could have been worse."

"Don't start –"

"It could have been my ten."

"Or a fifty."

"I'm immune – I don't have any fifties."

See, the problem is Murph likes to get even. What? I can't go with you? That'll cost you ten bucks!

For the two-hundred and seventh time, I congratulated myself on naming her right: If it can go wrong, Murphy will figure out how to make it happen. But she's not alone. They get even with us, you know, in case you haven’t been paying attention. They have their ways, the conniving little back-biters. Our first black Lab, Maggie, when she got old and retired from the hunting field, would watch me leave with Roxie the pup. You could almost hear her saying to herself, Well, fine! as she headed downstairs into my den, where she’d turn over my wastebasket, and shred everything – shredding seems to be a major part of the program.

You think these dogs don't hold a grudge or get snippy when they don’t  get their own way? You should have my job as a dog magazine editor - I hear it all, and some of it borders on the surreal.

I got a call one day from a fellow that wanted to know if I’d ever heard of a dog (it was a German shorthair as I remember) letting a hamster out of its cage. The cage had one of those lift gate openings on the side. He'd go away, come home, and launch into an impromptu hamster-hunt. He couldn't figure out how the little rodent was doing it, so he set up a video camera, left the house, came back in an hour, and the hamster's out. The video held the evidence: The shorthair, his nose out of joint because he didn't get to go with the boss, used that very same nose to open the cage. Busted. He never paid any attention to the hamster, just let it go.

We've all heard of dogs that figured out how to open refrigerators and steal a little tidbit to tide them over until supper, but I don't think you can call that getting even. I think it's smart.


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