Yesterday morning, I realized my dog is a ninja. This was a startling realization for me because I’ve known him all his life aside from the first 7 weeks he was in the care of his mother and an old man in West Mifflin, PA, but I realized how long he was hiding in the shadows, gathering intelligence, all while his deeds going unnoticed because he weighs 8 pounds. It was the perfect plan. Sit around, eat lots of food, be stealthy. I should have seen this coming the first time I’d taken him home with me from college and had him sit in my lap on top of a black coat without anyone on the plane noticing. I should have, but I didn’t.
How was my years of trust and loyalty broken, you ask? My darling doggy hadn’t come when called, which is highly unusual considering he may have a wee bit of separation anxiety I have still yet to successfully address, ending with me digging around the couch, cushions, bedding, crawling under the bed and getting caught in the bed skirt. When he continued not to respond, I feared the worse. I did get him my freshman year of college thanks to an overly permissive roommate, so he isn’t exactly young and sprightly anymore. The highlights of his day involve waking up when I get up, going for a walk outside, peeing, pooping, smelling where others have peed and pooped, sniffing any creatures that approach, prancing back into our comfortable apartment, sleeping on any pile of clothes my husband may have left out, snacking, drinking, sleeping some more on this cushion of floor next to a bunch of computer cables and speaker wires he believes is a pillow, crawling up to a chair, napping there. All the exciting things a dog can hope for followed by more bathroom breaks as time permits and some training. So given he mostly sleeps and then sleeps some more at this point of his life, death doesn’t seem too terribly far off.
So after 15 minutes of crawling around my not-large-enough-to-take-15-minutes-to-find-a-living-creature apartment, I had nearly given up all hope. It would be the day I had to figure out how you bury dogs if you don’t have a backyard, the day I had to carry my poor buddy’s corpse in my car to my parents house sobbing and singing Landslide performed by Smashing Pumpkins because it’s the closest thing to a breakup song I know the lyrics to shortly followed by Dirty Paws. My face would get red and splotchy. My snot would drip. I wouldn’t care. My dog would be dead, and dammit, who the hell gives a damn if I look like a train wreck?!
Walking into the office, ready to call my husband and let him know his first pet experience was to end after only a few short years, I called my dog’s name one last time.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. It was fast – a blink. It wasn’t the motion of my dog getting up and running around, no, faster. Too fast. The kind of movement only those expert in stealth and speed could master.
Looking over to the pile of laundry in the office that had fallen over at some point, I realized the truth. My dog was a ninja. Mumu had based our entire relationship on lies. I thought he was a slow, aging, lazy cuddle monster with no real skills other than producing minute amounts of heat and turning expensive dog food into fecal matter to be picked up by expensive doggy poop bags and functioned to wake me up at 3 AM when he had enough napping for the day and decided it was time to play. No, all of this was just a facade. My dog was actually a ninja master. A ninja master taking a nap in a pile of clothes he had undoubtedly knocked over because there is no way my husband would have accidentally knocked it over earlier then failed to clean it up. No way. Nope.
I had trained him for this, and it all started that first plane trip home for Thanksgiving in November, 2005.