I TOLD her it was me or the dog.
Big mistake. Not that I am actually going to pack my bags and leave. I might be more stupid than the dog, but not that stupid.
I just don’t think I can bear the way it grins at me any more. I used to think it was merely vacuous, but it’s become more… triumphant since I had this conversation (with my wife, not the dog).
I said I was sick of hairs over everything. I said anything that could make the house stink like a stable full of old blankets should be sleeping on the verandah…
It was the silence that gave her away. And I am not moving on to the verandah. The bloody dog would be on my bed like rat up a drain.
The balance of power has shifted and I never saw it happening. I remember when this… animal… arrived in the house. It was cute and snugly and it smelled good and I taught it to sit and stay and walk to heel and it looked up at me with doe-eyed devotion.
But somewhere in the past 13 years it’s been got at by the forces of evil. It has developed little red weasel eyes and a way of fawning to my wife that she sees as unquestioning devotion. She says it understands every word she says, but she talks to me as if I have no comprehension of even the most basic English.
I get fed at meal times only, but every time I look round some dainty morsel is being dropped in front of the dog’s porcine snout. And it doesn’t even have to beg or roll over!
And now it’s too late. It grins at me with Machiavellian malice and dares me to mount a challenge. I’ve even considered poisoning its food but it would deliberately die an agonised and theatrical death and its ghost would continue to sideline me in my wife’s affections.
She takes it out more often than she takes me out… “I’m just going to the walk the dog.”
“Would you like me to come?”
“Well, I thought we could talk….”
“No I’ll be fine with the dog. You get on with the painting.”
And when they get back I’ll be the one jumping up with my tongue hanging out for a pat and a kind word. I think I’m growing a tail.
I tried to get it all out in the open. “Don’t you see,” I blurted, desperately. “It’s using you. It’s working its way into your trust and slowly — diabolically — it’s taking control!”
She stepped back a couple of paces. With a kind of sad scorn in her eyes she said: “It’s just a dog.” The dog wagged its tail.
And here we are. I curl up in an armchair, hungry for the occasional kind word from my wife. I get up for meals and to go to the lavatory. I come when I’m called. I dig in the garden a bit, but usually in the wrong place, for which I am scolded by my wife.
The dog follows my wife about like a teenager in love. If it could hold her hand it would. They have interesting conversations about life the universe and everything. They go out and meet people. They go shopping together. And when they do, the dog gets to wait in the car. When I used to go shopping with her I was dragged round to look at things and carry stuff!
I’ve thought about running away, but I have this sneaky feeling no-one will scour the neighbourhood calling my name, or letterbox-drop the neighbourhood with sentimental leaflets saying how they miss me.