Posted by: cassymuronaka | June 14, 2009

Let the games begin


Last Thursday my lawyer sister and her family jetted overseas for a well-deserved, family vacation. The day before they did so, my brother-in-law deposited their young labradoodle on my doorstep, along with a bag of battered toys and the dog’s favorite food.

This animal is the first group pet owned by my sister, her husband and her two teenage sons. And this is my second year of dog-sitting the little prince.

Despite the fact that my sister remains armed with a continental cell phone and laptop computer for any unexpected attorney-client crises, the only communiqués she really is interested in receiving are reports on how her hound is faring.

Last year’s visit began somewhat rockily. Less than one hour after little Toby arrived, we accidentally let him shoot out of our front door. For 15 minutes, it amused the puppy tremendously to be chased up and down the street by two puffing, middle-aged humans, one of whom was hobbling unsteadily from recent knee surgery.

We finally caught the dog when I had the good sense to shout, “TREAT!”

He spent the first week more or less shell-shocked from being sucked out of his pampered, one-dog-home existence and dropped into the competitive world of two, equally spoiled nine-year-old female dogs.

Week Two was a very different story. Toby found his inner Alpha Male and began to make a stand against a sly chow-retriever mix known as Red Dog, a deceptively easy-going beast who is, surprisingly, the dominant dog in the house.

Both of these animals have playful personalities and each attempts possession of the same appealing toys: unraveling baseballs, punctured tennis balls, and scattered beef rib bones.

Adding a bit of spice to the Toby-Red Dog match is the inclusion of the neurotic and controlling Lola, a border collie-lab blend who spends her days operating under the delusion that she is herding mankind.

By the time Toby had been whisked back to his home, all three dogs had formed a pack, but not before we were alternately entertained and exhausted by the snarky games that they played upon each other and us.

On Wednesday, Toby returned a year older, a year calmer, and a year craftier. And all of the conniving canine diversions have picked up right where they left off last year when my brother-in-law retrieved the pup.

It is now Sunday morning and there are any number of contests already in play.

These include:

— I’m up here on the bed and you’re down there.
— You can’t get through this doorway because I am lying in it.
— You’re too big to sit on her lap, but I am not.
— He’s petting me now, not you.
— See how I can encircle this toy with my entire body?
— If I drop this bone on the floor, you’ll go after it and I can be where you are now.
— How close I can get to your nose when I jump across you on the couch?
— If I whine long enough, will you try to find that invisible tennis ball under the dresser?
— I may look asleep but you’re in for a big surprise if you creep any closer.



  1. Love the picture–may I have a copy? If the Allman crew in Rome has time to check out your posting I am sure they are charmed, as well.

    What a coincidence that the award-winning Golden Retriever is also named Toby.

    • Anything for my mommy.

  2. – You can’t get through this doorway because I am lying in it.

    Congratulations. You are clearly dialed in to the dog mind.

    • God knows I spend enough time trying to figure out what they are thinking.

  3. It all makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for the chuckle.

    • You’re welcome!

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