We are all settling down for the usual morning meet-and-greet, when Franny starts snapping at Fritz, who hasn’t made it up on the couch yet, and who is arking and hopping, trying to jump up. Fritz has put on a few pounds and isn’t as spry as he used to be, so I have to haul his fat butt up on my lap, where he proceeds to roll off and start licking the couch like a berserk machine until I yell at him to stop. I ask Franny, “Why do you get snarky with Fritz?”, and she says “Because he’s put on a few pounds and isn’t as spry as he used to be and has to be hauled up on the couch. And he’s mental.” She adds, with a sniff, ” According to Couch Protocal, he shouldn’t be here”. ” And where should he be?” I ask. ” On the floor.” Implied criticism of my weeniness duly noted.
As if on cue, Phoebe sails gracefully over 4 dogs and into my lap, where she lifts her beautiful black and tan head proudly to better present her abundance of chest hair for me to stroke and admire. Phoebe, who is going on four and has had two litters of pups ( instant status) is moving up the ladder. She’s been doing it effortlessly and without an ounce of drama because she is a duchess among serfs; a trapeze artist among clowns; Snow White among dwarfs. Her pedigree is both broad and deep and derives from the British Royalty of English Creams. As a bonus, she comes from a long line of carefully bred service dogs, so she has a special capacity for empathy, and seems to know what everyone needs before they do. This could prove irritating if she didn’t do it with such simple charm, good humor and modesty. In any event, in our household’s Best in Show sweepstakes, she leaves the other Weiners in the dust. Not that they care. In Weiner World, where every whim should be satisfied, they think she comes in handy. Couch Seating Protocal has her placing herself wherever she wants lately, but she remains polite and considerate, and is letting the others get used to the idea slowly.
Phoebe has lived up to her advance billing by integrating herself seamlessly into the house pack. She’s the peacekeeper, going about kissing all the other dogs when they get a little grouchy. She gets groomed by everyone. She managed to appropriate the coat closet with the dog door for her personal den. No one even remembers ever wanting to be in there now, so slowly and politely did she do this. A similar total amnesia happens when she wants a treat or toy currently being enjoyed by any other dog but Mokie, although, truthfully, Mokie’s days as Underdog to the 3rd are numbered. While Mokie continues to dominate her in some things, like empty yogurt cup appropriation, Phoebe gave her a hint of life to come the other day when, without warning and for no apparent reason, she bodyblocked Mokie off the footstool and onto the floor. Then she stood looking down at her in a good natured way, as if to say, “What are you going to do about that, hey?” I have never seen Mokie look so surprised. She gave Phoebe the hard-eye for about two seconds, then jumped at her to deliver a quick, warning nudge with her nose. Nothing more happened, but everyone felt the seismic shift in the status landscape all the same.
Phoebe had arrived.