“In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I can’t read, and I don’t know the friend beast who wrote that, but I like lying in the sun. Especially on days when there aren’t any bugs. I hate bugs. They buzz around me, and land on the base of my tail where I can’t get to them, and I’m sitting there snapping at them and giving myself whiplash while I’m trying to relax, and who has time for that?
Anyway. I’m not here to talk about bugs. Or lying in the sun. Though maybe I’ll go do that later. It’s colder outside these days, and there aren’t so many bugs.
When I walk into a room, it gets the friend beasts’ attention. They start cooing at me in their stupid voices, and want me to come over so they can pet me. Fine, I say, you can scratch me behind the ears. I’m a dog. I like that. But like the old canine proverb goes, you get further with a strip of chicken jerky and a welcome bark, then you do with just a welcome bark.
It’s easiest when my friend beasts are making their food. The really good smells wake me up from my nap, and I walk downstairs, and I park myself by the kitchen and stare. Sometimes, I might have to start drooling so that it registers in their little pea brains what I’m after. “Brando,” one of them says. “You want a treat?” Do bulldogs have bad sinuses? Duh.
Then, they decide I need to work for my food. That’s amusing to me. I don’t have opposable thumbs. I don’t have little, shiny sticks with pointy things that I can pick up, and use to cut up my food. It’s nose in the bowl, baby. Or I’ll take it right out of your hand, or off the floor. Whatever works.
Anyway, they spend longer than I want to wait, tearing up my treats and stuffing them into this round, chewy thing. Then one of them hands it to me like they’re doing me a huge favor. So in order to get my shredded-up treats out of this stupid ball with holes in it, I have to grind away and wait for little pieces to fall out. Then I drop the ball, eat up the little pieces—which have usually fallen between my bed and the floor, or wound up underneath the coffee table—and pick up the ball again. And repeat. If I work really hard, I can get most of the treat out before I’m exhausted, and fall asleep. Thanks, friend beasts! By the way, are YOU the ones roughhousing with 80-lb. Labs three days a week? I think NOT. Maybe you should put all that food you stuff into your mouths while you stare at the talking screen into the little stupid ball, and “work for it.”
It’s tougher when other friend beasts come over, and I have to educate them. It starts when I hear a car pull up, or a door slam. Cue hound bark. Doorbell rings. I hate that stupid thing… hurts my ears. Barking intensifies. ‘Cause, you know, a dog’s gotta protect his house.
All the pleasantries start when they step inside. I get their scent. Wag, wag, wag. Nuzzle, nuzzle, nuzzle. Coo, coo, coo. Great… now let’s get down to business. After scratching my ears and rubbing my belly for a few minutes, it’s obvious they want to get friend beast treats, and drink out of those bone-shaped water bowls they carry around. Fine, I say. Brando will go lie down. Brando will go lie quietly on his bed in the corner, and pretend to be asleep while you say stupider things than usual. But it’s gonna cost ya.
So I lean in. Heavy on the knees, so they know it’s not just a pass-by. Usually I start whining. Affection, affection, affection PLEEEAAASE!!! Usually this is happening when they’re about to put food in their bowls. Friend beasts eat, Brando’s gotta eat. Even if he’s already been fed his dinner. I make sure that message is perfectly clear.
And this part is great, because with other friend beasts in the house, they don’t have time to shred up my treats and put them inside the stupid ball. So I get the jerky, or the dry treat or whatever, intact, and I go over to my bed and I take my sweet time eating it. Sometimes, I even stop to take a breath.
Get fed, go to bed. Those are words I live by.