94: Not Ready to Share

94: Not Ready to Share

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Not Ready to Share

Never trust a dog to watch your food.

~Author Unknown

“Gus is coming to stay with us,” I told my kids over dinner one cool, autumn night. All three of them were happy to have him. He was the perfect houseguest. Well mannered and quiet, but fun too. He loved to play in the yard with the kids, cuddle up on the couch when invited and always finished his dinner.

Gus is a Boxer/German Shepherd mix who belonged to a friend of mine, a personal trainer who also owns and runs a nonprofit organization that trains young men and women preparing to enter the military. He ran his businesses like he ran his life. One hundred percent effort. No excuses. It’s also how he raised Gus—which is why he was such a great guest. This was one well-trained dog.

Each morning of his week with us, I woke to find Gus waiting patiently for me to fill his food dish. As I padded around the house, checking his water, starting the coffee maker and rousing sleepy kids for school, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed having a dog in our family. It had been two years since our Boxer, Biscuit, went to Dog Heaven and I thought I was more calm without the extra mouth to feed. But, as it turned out, I’d missed having a four-legged friend with whom I could share my thoughts. Someone who would listen completely, love unconditionally, and greet me at the end of my day.

Our week with Gus passed quickly. The day before he was to go home I was at work, thinking that maybe it was time to begin the search for our next family pet. If I could find a dog as sweet and well behaved as Gus, I thought I might be ready. My phone rang, interrupting my reverie. It was my stepmom, Mary.

“I’m out running errands,” she explained. “Wondering if I can stop by your house and leave a little surprise for you guys?”

“Sure!” Mary’s surprises were usually of the sweet variety. And completely irresistible. Before I hung up, I reminded her that Gus would greet her when she walked in—just so she wouldn’t be surprised. “Oh, right,” she remembered. “Gus! He’s so sweet. Such a good dog.”

“Yep, that’s Gus! He won’t jump on you, but he’ll probably greet you at the door. Maybe give you the once over sniff and then he’ll go lie down.”

We hung up and I went back to work.

As I left the office later that afternoon, I called my older son to see how his school day had gone. I got the standard response of “fine,” and then remembered the surprise. “Oh, hey, what’d Grandma Mary leave?” I asked before he could hang up.

“Huh?”

“Grandma Mary said she was coming by today to drop off a surprise.”

“Okay, hang on,” he said. Then, after a beat, “Don’t see anything.”

“Really? That’s strange. Maybe it’s in the fridge.”

I pictured him turning around in our small kitchen, pulling open the door.

“Uh. There’s some Cool Whip.”

“Cool Whip? Oh, keep looking—I’ll bet she made a pumpkin pie!”

“I don’t think there’s a pie . . .” Connor started.

“Oh, hey,” I said, interrupting him, “would you let Gus out? I should be home soon.”

I hung up and smiled at the thought of pumpkin pie—my absolute favorite this time of year.

Thirty minutes later, I pulled into the driveway. All was quiet inside. The younger kids weren’t home yet and Connor was engrossed in homework at the kitchen table. Gus was lying on the living room rug.

“Find the pie?”

“Nope. No pie.” Connor barely glanced up from his textbook.

“What? But there’s Cool Whip . . . there has to be a pie!” I did a 360 in the kitchen, checked counter tops, peered into the oven, and then turned the corner to check the dining room when I spied Gus, still lying on the carpet. That’s strange, I thought. He usually comes to the door to greet me. I walked towards him and noticed something silver poking out from under the couch. I knelt on the carpet as Gus stood up and slinked out of the room. I grabbed the silver thing and pulled out a disposable pie plate. A clean, disposable pie plate.

Realization hit me just as the phone rang, and, suspicious, I stuck my nose in the pie plate and took a sniff. Pumpkin.

“GUS!” I yelled.

I grabbed the phone before I lost the call.

“Hello?”

“Did you get your surprise?” Mary asked.

“Uh, the pumpkin pie?” I guessed. “No, but Gus sure did.”

“What?” she cried. “Seriously? I put it all the way at the back of the counter!” He’s normally such a good dog . . .”

“I guess even the most well mannered dogs can’t resist your homemade pumpkin pie!” I hung up the phone and gave Gus my no-nonsense, one-eyebrow-raised look. Maybe I wasn’t ready for another dog. After all, I could share my home and my life. But my pumpkin pie? Forget it.

~Beth M. Wood

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