Our dogs have forgotten their table manners.
When we sit down to eat, Molly, my wife’s 2-year-old beagle, only a few months out of the animal rescue group, jumps up and puts her front paws on someone’s lap and her head within licking distance of the nearest plate.
We push her down and she pops up a minute later at someone else’s plate.
Huey, my little 15-year-old terrier mutt, is a little more reserved. Maybe it’s his age, but he just sits next to my chair and begs.
Somehow, I don’t think we would rate too well if Cesar Millan and his “Dog Whisperer” television crew ever showed up at our house.
Jenny blames me for all of this commotion. She says we wouldn’t have this problem if the dogs just ate dog food, like they’re supposed to. She says it’s because I sometimes slip the dogs a little something from the table.
She is quick to remind me that Fancy, her big, black lab-mix who died last summer, was pretty much perfect until she met up with me 10 years ago.
And that my dog Huey had lots of bad habits—and still does.
(She seems to have forgotten that when I met her, she had balloons taped to the inside of her front door to keep Fancy from jumping up and clawing the wood. But I don’t think I’ll bring that up.)
Anyway, she contends that I ruined all of the dogs’ behavior by giving them snacks from the table.
Usually, it’s about the time I have a tasty morsel headed toward one of their mouths.
I admit that I would not quality as a very good “pack leader” in Cesar Millan’s eyes. I don’t really think it hurts anything, but I don’t get very far with that argument. That all changed one Sunday.
There I was, sitting in the pew at church and the preacher had started his sermon.
He was talking about the verse in Matthew where a woman is seeking help with her daughter, who is possessed by demons.
But Jesus tells her that it isn’t right to take the master’s bread and give it to the dogs (meaning those not from Israel).
She responds that “even the dogs under the table deserve the master’s crumbs.”
About that time our high-school senior, Joe, grinned and nudged his mother. I tried to keep from laughing out loud.
Of course, I know that’s not what the story is really about. It’s about the woman’s faith and how Jesus decides to heal her daughter.
But it works for me, especially around the dinner table.
“Hey, it’s in the Bible,” I say, as I’m distributing the “crumbs.”
Now, if I could just find a reference to dogs sleeping on the furniture.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-5345-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.