Ike the family dog is in his third month of residence on our living room rug. It began when the temperatures at night went below zero and we were sympathetic to his staying outside all night in the cold.
He has been inside during previous winters and he has proven himself to be good company, meaning that he does not make any messes and stays in one spot. He does not even drink out of the toilet.
Even after several winters, bringing an animal inside is still a new experience. Farms have livestock and livestock belongs outside. That means when warm temperatures finally arrive this spring, Ike will be back outside. He will not like it, but that is how it is.
Okay, maybe Ike is more than livestock. He certainly provides companionship and some entertainment, especially if he thinks he is about to be fed.
The sound of plates being scraped is the sound of an imminent meal. The best sign for him is when I walk towards the door carrying a bowl.
He knows our habits and the noises that accompany our activities. He stations himself to see the kitchen table so that when I stand up at the end of a meal, he knows it may be his turn to eat something we have left for him.
His head pops up and his large tail starts to wag in anticipation.
He seems to know when we are talking about him so he gets different names when we refer to him to keep him unaware. He has been called “the moose,” or “lumpy” because he can sit like a lump on the floor, or “the third member” because after my wife and myself, he is the third member.
He is mostly in charge of the living room when he is inside whether he knows it or not. When it is time to go outside, he stands by the door until one of us has to get out of our comfortable chair and open the door for him.
A few minutes later, he is scratching on the door wanting back in and once again, we climb out of our chair to open the door. He bounds in and collapses on the floor in a heap.
After the third time this happens in an evening, he is known as “stupid dog” although since he does not understand English, he does not seem to take it personally.
Since it is usually muttered under our breath, he does not care because what counts is that he got what he wanted.
While we complain about tending to his needs, there is no mistaking our appreciation of having another living being nearby.
He is both loyal and gentle, deserving our care when all he wants is to be treated well.
Ike has a place of privilege in comparison to the other animals. The cats gather around the front door and a couple of them seem very curious about why this dog goes in and out while they can only watch.
They are wondering what he has got that they do not. Is this fair?
So if the cats are not happy about the state of affairs and want to organize into a union or picket the front door, they are welcome to do so.
It is not going to change anything as long as my wife and I are in charge.
We are a benevolent dictatorship and can bestow privileges and can take them away at our will.
Uh oh, Ike is standing by the door, time to let him out again. If he is a “stupid dog,” why am I the one going to the door?
Why does he look like he is laughing?
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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