Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

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Our dog, Duke, turns 12 years old next week and is understandably white in the face. I think he's aged very gracefully. But at 12, a white face is to be expected.

Our granddog, Bo, won't even be 2 until next month and he's already got some white whiskers on his chin. He needs Grecian Formula for Puppies or something.

I hadn't even noticed he had whiskers until the time I busted him getting into the cupboard under the sink. Oh, he denied any wrongdoing from the start, but the telltale signs of messing with the can of cleanser were all over his little green whiskers.

He gets into the other cupboard all the time looking for plastic bottles to destroy. He thinks I'm magic because I know when he's in there even when I'm not in the kitchen. No magic, just a squeaky cupboard door that's purposely left that way. I heard the door squeak the other day and just hollered from the living room, "Hey, get outta that cupboard!" To which his mom replied, "I only wanted to get a paper plate out."

Oops. Didn't even know she was in the kitchen. She's allowed in the cupboard. I don't even want the dogs in the kitchen. They plaster themselves all over the floor making it impossible to get from one side of the room to the other. They're hoping to trip me while I'm packing my lunch and they're praying to the Leftover Gods.

And godforbid I leave food on the counter and them unattended. As far as I know, Duke has only stolen two food items in his life -- a green pepper out of a bucket of them in the kitchen and a bunch of broccoli out of the sink. He was caught red-pawed with the pepper and there were little bits of broccoli on the carpet and only one dog in the house. You do the math.

One time, Dave and I were frying up a pound of bacon and were summoned outside to help push a car or something. We were only gone a few minutes, but when we got back, the half-pound of bacon I left on the counter was completely gone. And both dogs were pointing at the other.

The other day, they both hit the tippy top of my "isch list" because of a half a bowl of chili left on the counter. I was getting ready to do the dishes anyway, I just should've handled that first. I went outside for just a second to dump out a bucket of water. When I got back, Duke was eating chili right out of the bowl which was now on the floor. They teamed up on that one. Bo's the only one agile enough to get up on the counter and Duke was working on getting rid of the evidence.

Too late for that, as I found chili splattered on the walls and the floor, on the fridge and even on the bathroom door. Good Lord.

They got theirs though, I'm sure. That was my homemade chili, which has won several awards, including one for "Best Hottest Chili." They might want to think about going out and sitting in a snowbank for a while.

And that's where the two dogs differ. Dukie used to love the snow. He practically danced across the yard in it. He's matured now and sees it for what it is. A total pain in the tuckus. Bo is still thrilled to pieces, dragging his tongue through it and just being silly, romping around in it.

I introduced him to snowballs with the first snow this year. Once the snowball lands and becomes indiscernible from its surroundings, it's hilarious to watch Duke and Bo search frantically for it. I know, funny, but wrong.

Bo didn't catch a single one. I don't think he was really trying all that hard. Duke did catch one and it was "game over" so he could hork up a lung trying to catch his breath.

Poor old guy even wheezes when he barks now. Bark, bark, bark, wheeeeeze, has replaced bark, bark, bark, snarl. Although not before Bo had an opportunity to observe and learn the technique. He even tested it out the other day when the Swiffer sweeper handle clocked him in the forehead and he blamed it on his daddy who was sitting in the general vicinity of it.

He's learning all kinds of new tricks from the grand master, Duke, who has his name up on the wall of local pizza shops as a dog to be wary of. Go figure.

Copyright 2013 Laura Nethken

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