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The Pug Who Came to Dinner

The following morning, it bucketed rain and Molly opted to watch for the paper from the front window. Surely, she may have speculated, the Pug wouldn’t come out in such inclement weather for a fetch he now knew he couldn’t possibly retrieve.

Molly would soon learn never to underestimate the tenacity of a Pug.

I’d gone back into the kitchen for a moment when I heard the carrier’s car approaching and Molly’s excited whines. “No rush, girl,” I assured her as I headed toward the front door to let the now yelping, prancing dog out.

Then I saw the reason for her distress. Bruiser darted out of the hedge and lifted his leg. His aim perfect, he peed on her precious blue-sleeved paper.

Two weeks later, Nancy crossed the road to ask a favor. She and her partner were going to visit non-dog-fancying relatives for a couple of weeks. Could we keep Bruiser? No problem, husband Ron and I readily agreed. By then, Bruiser had become a frequent and welcome visitor. Barbie-Q and Molly enjoyed him, and so did we. So the Pug who came to dinner gathered up his collar, leash and bowl and moved in.

“He’s housebroken and doesn’t chew things,”Nancy said as she placed him on the kitchen floor. “There’s only a couple of tiny problems. He steals and he parties.”

“Oh?” we replied in surprised unison, although the former came as no surprise after the newspaper incidents. And as for partying. A Pug? Really?

The first couple of days, nothing untoward occurred. The three dogs played happily on the deck, in the yard and at the beach. On the third morning, however, things changed.

When I went to call the dogs in after their morning ablutions, I found a pair of pink plastic flowers, a few of their fake petals missing, on the deck. As I recalled having seen them on a neighbor’s lawn, I looked at Bruiser sitting beside them, a grin plastered across his pushed-up little face.

“Did you take those?” I asked pointing at the posies.“No, no! Bad boy!”

The black ears dropped repentantly… for a moment. Then he blinked an eye at me and wiggled his tail.

An hour later, when our neighbor went grocery shopping, I furtively stuck the two worse-for-wear flowers back in her garden. That was easy, I thought, as I trotted home. And now that he knew better, our houseguest wouldn’t do it again. He’d looked so contrite.

Apparently I hadn’t learned anything about Bruiser’s persistence during his paper-pirate days, I realized later that week. Each morning, our deck sported new booty. A tennis ball, a toy truck, a plastic shovel, a baseball cap, a deflated beach ball (I refused to reflect on how it had gotten into that condition) and, most alarmingly, what looked like a doll’s amputated arm.

But worse was yet to come. The next morning, a shoe appeared on the deck. Obviously new, obviously expensive.

“Oh, Bruiser!” I breathed, turning the slender, high-heeled strappy sandal over in my hands.“What have you done now!”

For a moment, my tone of voice made his ears droop and his tail straighten. For a moment he looked almost ashamed. Almost. And only for a moment. Then his tail re-knotted, his ears went up and his wide mouth widened in that now familiar roguish grin.

Ron joined me on the deck. “There’s only one thing to do about this,” he said. He took the shoe from my hand and, like the prince in Cinderella, set off down the road to find someone with its mate.

“That’s it.” On his return, Ron picked up the Pug and looked him squarely in the eyes.“No more stealing, understand?” For a moment, black ears drooped and the broad mouth sagged. For a moment one could almost believe he was truly sorry. Almost.

The instant Ron replaced the canine culprit on the deck, his entire body flashed back to perky exuberance. He turned to Barbie-Q, who’d been dozing in the sun, and began racing around her, barking and daring her to play.

“When did Nancy say she’d be back?” Ron asked as they made circuit after circuit of the cottage, barking and yelping.

That evening marked the beginning of a long weekend in New Brunswick. Shortly after 6, the air grew rich with the smell of barbecuing beef and pork from our neighbor’s barbecues. All three dogs—lying on the deck, bellies full of supper—sniffed deeply. Leaving them to savor the aroma, I went inside to clear away our dishes.

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