MASTER OR SLAVE?

By Lisa Huddleston

I know I talk about my dog too much.  My cats, too.  Yes, I put their pictures on Facebook and believe everyone will get a warm fuzzy out of an especially cute expression or awkward position on the back of the couch.  So sue me.  Animals are people, too.   Well, almost.

Anyway, we have this dog.  Her name has been through several evolutions since she was found as an orphan puppy frolicking in the park.  The shelter named her “Dottie” which we kept.  But to that has been added:  Dottie Parker, Dotsky Plotsky, and the best of all, Dottie Pigbody.  This last and best name not only sounds amazingly cute, it also describes what must be her heritage:  a cross between Fox Terrier and Pig.

We are rather proud of Dottie.  She is a fearless watchdog—except when she is afraid.  She loves her cat brothers and sisters—especially when she is chasing them up trees.  And she has never met a toy that she cannot demolish in under ten minutes.  Therefore we are always on the lookout for that indestructible toy.

Recently my mother may have found the Holy Grail—a rawhide bone made of salmon skin.  Dottie has owned this prized possession for at least a week now, and it is still in pristine condition.  (I know, I know—aren’t rawhides supposed to be chewed up?  Don’t be picky.)

We are excited that Dottie has kept this toy around for so long; however, I have noticed a disturbing change in her usually pleasant personality.  In fact this bone, henceforth referred to as the “fishbone,” has become an idol of sorts.

Dottie holds the fishbone in her mouth and walks around the house and yard displaying it to the cats.  Naturally, due to its aromatic nature, the cats are interested and when they come for a closer look, Dottie rushes at them to pounce and pommel them into oblivion.  Her obsession has become so great that twice—not only once—I have seen her run headlong into an iron screen door nearly breaking her own neck just because one of the porch cats dared glance in to glimpse her “Precious.”

As I’ve watched Dottie’s moral decline, I’ve noted a universal truth.  Very often, although we think we are the owners of our stuff, it is our stuff that really owns us.  One crowded stroll through the basement lets me know that Dottie is not the only one with this problem, and I am ashamed.  Why do we keep so much junk?  Why do I?

I remember an Erma Bombeck article that reminded us to use the good china, to burn the fancy candles … and I think I can add to that list to get rid of things that I don’t need that others could.  Stuff shouldn’t own us.  Bigger barns lead to bigger ulcers.  Poor Dottie has to guard the fishbone day and night, and that’s not a good way to live.  Heck, those cats don’t even want that stinky bone.  They’ve all checked it out and gave it a pass.  Dottie is worrying for nothing, but she won’t believe me.

Even though she won’t listen to me, I think I’ve learned a thing or two from her.  Rusty old bike anyone?  How about some out-of-print school books?  Broken weed eater?  Good bye, my preciousssssss …

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