Northern Intelligence

Man’s Best Friend …Humph!

After three long weeks on Northern deployment, my husband is finally coming home. And thank goodness for that because I think my friends and family were starting to get worried. Normally, they’re concerned because they don’t want me to be lonely, and realize that my husband is the buffer that keeps me on the right side of totally crazy. With him home, I’m delightfully eccentric. On my own, I’m the strange woman in the grocery store with a cart full of cake mix and canned tuna, dancing to Abba on her MP3 player.

The problem with marrying a guy you’re also best friends with is that I tend to spend more time with him than anyone else. (Mainly because he thinks I’m funny and tells me I have pretty hair.) Who else can I share my love of all things Trey Parker and Matt Stone with? Who else understands that Steve Carell is a modern-day Leslie Nielsen and should be revered for his deadpan, comedic timing? The minute I realized he not only knew the British TV show “Father Ted” but also that he WATCHED it, I was smitten for life. (My husband likes to say that he knew I was cool when I picked him up for our first date playing Ozzy Osborne in the car. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I HADN’T forgotten my Felicity soundtrack at home.) And since my family and best friend are four provinces away, when he does get sent away for work, I have to entertain myself.

And because my husband and I have never had children, apart from my job, I don’t really have a lot of other responsibilities. Remove my husband from the equation, and I basically turn into a teenager with an increased allowance and no one to tell me I can’t have cupcakes for breakfast. (Sidebar: No one on either side of our families has ever questioned our decision to remain child-free.

I don’t think anyone else wants to see the genetic catastrophe we would create, either. It’d probably be like “Spliced,” only far more sarcastic and have a mild obsession with A&E reality television.) However, this time the problem is not my arrested development issues (a welcome change), but rather the effect this deployment has had on our two dogs.

In an attempt to force some measure of maturity, and to placate what little maternal urges I have, we decided to supplement children with dogs. Hence the acquisition of Berry (proper name Strawberry), the purebred Golden Retriever, and Bruno, the “Heinz 57” mutt. Not only do we treat them as our children, but both sets of parents have completely come on board, as well. (They even get Christmas stockings from “Pappy” and “Grammie”.) In short, these dogs are spoiled rotten. They get attention whenever they want, have taken over every comfortable surface in the house, and mastered the art of the “puppy eyes” to a level I can only dream of.

And just like any other spoiled brat, they are not happy that their father is gone.

For one thing, this is the first deployment where I have been working and they have not been left with a babysitter. At our last posting, we had a neighbour who was retired and, while my husband was overseas, he let me bring the dogs over to his house for the day while I was at work. Then after we moved up North, I was unemployed and home with them all day. But now that they’re on their own for most of the day, they’ve decided to release their anger by destroying the house when left alone.

But one would think that their rage would be directed towards the one who left, not the one who stayed.

The first day by themselves, they decided to tear into the plastic recycling left by the front door, which up until this point they had shown NO INTEREST IN WHATSOEVER. That’s a wonderful surprise to come home to, BTW. (Like someone sprinkling rose petals on your floor, only instead of petals, it’s a bunch of chewed up garbage. And instead of it being romantic, IT’S A BUNCH OF CHEWED UP GARBAGE.) So I scolded them, put them outside while I cleaned up and suspended all couch and bed privileges.

And the next day, they were prefect angels.

Then, later in the week, I came home to find that they had chewed apart the cardboard recycling. Again, something they had NEVER SHOWN ANY INTEREST IN. (I would also like to point out that handling the recycling is MY household chore. There was a pile of laundry by the washing machine, which is mainly my husband’s duty, that they did not touch.) At this point, I decided that someone needed to be reminded of the steel dog crate we keep in the spare room. See, the genius behind separating them is that with Bruno in the crate, if anything got chewed or eaten, I would know exactly who the culprit was, so I trusted that Berry wouldn’t try anything.

And I was right. I crated Bruno for the entire week (coming home at lunch to let him out) and I came home to a house just as pristine (relatively speaking) as I left it. I figured after a week, they knew who was boss now. So the next Monday, after making sure the kitchen garbage was blocked off and anything else they might get into was out of their reach, and with both dogs curled up on the couch, I left for work feeling pretty smug.

Can you guess what happened?

Go on, take a guess.

I returned home to a scene in my living room worthy of Law & Order: Canine Crime. The carpet was covered with eaten paper and junk mail. My favourite books had been pulled down off the shelves and shredded. My (fake) LV wallet was in pieces. And the little She-ra action-figure, that we had thought would be hilarious to use as the Bride on our wedding cake, had been captured and decapitated.

(DECAPITATED!!)

The G.I. Joe, used to represent the Groom, remained untouched, of course.

Needless to say, Bruno is back in his crate.

(Sidebar #2: When your wife/spouse tells you that the “children” have started sacrificing plastic surrogates of them, and maybe it’s time you came home, the correct response is sympathy and understanding, not thinly veiled laughter.)

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