Zeus is our firstborn. We acquired the half German Shepherd, half Husky puppy three years before we got married. Zeus has been with us through the good times and the bad and even though he is approaching 12 years of age, which is 84 to you and me, he still has a lot of puppy in him. Unfortunately, the puppy in him was the neighbor's LossaPoo or Cockaopso - I warned them!!
Zeus has suffered immeasurable amounts of humiliation at the hands of myself when I went through a phase where I wanted to do a calendar of dogs dressed up as historical figures and I put a tiara, clip-on rhinestone earrings and a fur stole on Zeus and took his picture as the reigning queen of England and at the hands of my son. Zeus has been Floamed, ridden like a horse, forced to be the bad guy, been made to lay still and be the mountains when Kyser needed terrain to run his Hot Wheels over, and once Zeus was colored green when Kyser found my stash of Sharpies.
Kyser so wants Zeus to be his buddy. But as Zeus ages, he doesn't want to have anything to do with anything that moves that fast, makes that much noise, and has the potential to cause as much destruction as Kyser. Kyser has come up with a solution to this problem and that solution has a first name that's O-s-c-a-r and a second name that's M-a-y-e-r. You've heard the old joke about a child being so ugly you have to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him? Kyser has figured out how to get the same results with a hot dog.
It took me a while to catch on. I noticed that Zeus was spending an awful lot of time in Kyser's bedroom and in all honesty, it warmed the cockles of my heart. Kyser had watched "Ol' Yeller" with his Papa over the summer and I would hear his sweet little voice singing the theme song to Zeus in his bedroom and there was no snarling or biting from Zeus or Kyser for that matter, so I just chocked it up to the innate ability of dogs to realize when a child has reached a certain psychological threshold of maturity.
It was a crisp Saturday morning when I finally figured it out. We were planning a weiner roast that night and I had stocked up on weiners earlier in the week. I opened the refrigerator to get some milk for my Major Crisp (the generic version of Captain Crunch) when I noticed a distinct lack of weiners. It was then that I heard the sweet refrain from Kyser's room..."Yeller, come back Yeller..." Then I heard the trademark gnashing of teeth that means Zeus has gotten ahold of people food and is too excited to actually chew.
I peeked around the corner to see Kyser reaching into one of his toy drawers and pulling out a hot dog. Zeus sat obediently waiting with those strings of drool hanging precariously close to a basket of clean laundry. Kyser got out the hot dog and asked Zeus a question: Zeus, am I your best friend?
Then Kyser took that hot dog and moved it up and down in sweeping gestures so that it looked like Zeus was nodding yes to the question Kyser had just asked.
Several things went through my head at that point: Where did Kyser get the idea to do that? How many hot dogs has Kyser given to the Zeus? Is it just hot dogs? Has Kyser ever been bitten? Could this explain the recent onset of noxious gas that had been plaguing Zeus and causing us to have to sleep with the windows open even in the cold weather? But the number one question, the question that really hit me upside the head was this: How long had those hot dogs been in that drawer?
I cleared my throat and Zeus immediately laid down with his ears pinned to the top of his head. So did Kyser. He looked at me and then looked at the hot dog in his hand and didn't say anything. I could see the wheels turning in his mind. I could see him trying to figure out how to get out of the current predicament he found himself in. "Hey Mom! Didn't see you there." Kyser was trying to be matter of fact, even though he still had the hot dog in his hand and Zeus was following its every movement. He stood looking at me, smiling and it was just too much for Zeus. He raised up, reached gingerly over to the hot dog with his white snout and in one swift smooth movement slid it out of Kyser's hand and devoured it in one gulp. "Did you know Zeus really like hot dogs?"
Turns out, Kyser had his own little All-You-Can-Eat Buffet happening in his room. He showed me where he kept the ham, the oreos, the cheese slices and the crackers. After we rounded up all the food and sprayed everything down with Lysol and bleach water, I explained to Kyser that maybe we shouldn't keep feeding Zeus under the table, so to speak. He really didn't understand why, and I explained to him that we had to make sure Zeus understood that he had to eat his food. Kyser didn't think this was fair.
But today, he found out the hard way. After receiving a huge bag of his favorite candy for Halloween from his great aunts, he was really looking forward to coming home from school today and having a piece. However, when we got home we discovered that Zeus had helped himself while we were gone. He had eaten an entire bag of Reese's Peanut Butter cups. The wrappers were scattered throughout the house, but most of them were in Kyser's bedroom, where Zeus was used to being treated. Zeus' white face was covered with chocolate splotches and there were candy wrappers stuck to his feet.
"Zeus!" Kyser admonished. "How could you do this? How could you?" Kyser was in shock that he had been so brutally rebuffed by man's best friend. Zeus just looked at him and walked to the refrigerator and sat down, his eyes full of expectaion. Kyser wandered into his bedroom and I could hear him sniffling so I went in there.
"Mom, did I ruin Zeus?" I assured him that he didn't. He paused for a moment and then crossed his arms in disgust. "Zeus was never my friend. He was just using me for your groceries."