Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Double-Play

I work from a home office and Baxter and Kirby cheerfully follow me to work each day and settle-in to their claimed spaces: Baxter on the bench under the window (where he alternately plays watch-dog and snooze-dog) and Kirby either under my desk or under the chair. They will remain in these positions, silent (unless dreaming) and completely unintrusive, unless I have an important phone call. My picking up the phone seems to trigger a sudden inspiration to wrestle, growl, howl and chase each other around the room. Loudly. "My assistants," I joke uneasily. My clients know I work from home, but somehow having a snarling animal play-fight going on in the background doesn't scream professionalism.

I don't know what causes this. Perhaps it's because I'm quiet while I'm working on the computer, so there's always this chance I'm watching them. But once I start talking on the phone, they consider it the psychological equivalent of being out of the room. They wrestle in front of us, but the level of play definitely gets rougher when they think no one is paying attention (witness the whirling mass of fur rolling around the living room when I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner).

When Baxter was the only dog, he would usually pick my conference calls to announce the neighbor pruning his trees or the impending arrival of the delivery truck. (I ask this of all home-based workers: Why is it that UPS and Fedex always arrive at the same time of day conference calls are held? Is 10:00am "magic" for some reason?)

Anyway, now Baxter has a partner in crime, and I get the sense that sometimes the canines are ganging up on me. There are times every dog owner wonders if they're being played. For example, when you dutifully respond to that "I really have to go outside now" look only to find out it had nothing to do with physical need and everything to do with that neighbor cat sauntering past the window.

Now I'm getting it double-time. Some days I don't have any telephone calls to attend to, and the boys get restless for a row. So I first get the unwavering "I really have to go outside now" stare and paw on the thigh from Baxter, immediately followed by Kirby bouncing up and down on the other side of my chair, looking me straight in the eye and barking (Baxter is a man of few words, Kirby's more of an extrovert).

So, not wanting two messes on the office floor, I sign-out, get up from my desk and let everyone out of the office then out the back door. Kirby gives Baxter a look, Baxter lowers his head and the chase is afoot. After about 10 laps around the trees, under the bushes, rolling in the grass past the patio and back, I get two muddy dogs wanting to come inside. No one has done his "business," but they both look really satisfied. I, the one who has towel-duty at the door, am not so thrilled. Once sufficiently toweled-off, we return to the office where the canines go to their respective spots and sack out for a few more hours.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated at this need to interrupt what I'm doing to cater to their whims. Then I remember how much my life is enriched by the presence of Baxter and Kirby and I can't be mad for long. We made a deal, and part of my end is taking them outside when they have a biological need, even if that need is just to run and play.

I guess I can't blame them. It would probably be a lot better for me if I would take the occasional break to run with wild abandon around the back yard.

No comments: