A friend, who was at our house picking up his son last week, watched in amusement as Dexter took a sloppy drink from his bowl. “He’s certainly enthusiastic,” he noted, with that or a similar euphemism for “charming disaster.”
A few days ago a man whose training and business it is to observe and diagnose personalities in a very casual way deemed mine “big,” so my affinity for Dexter may be one of kindred spirit. He springs to life every morning and bounds outside to greet the day. When he is let back in he runs to the kitchen and stands by his bowl emitting short but persistant whines until I feed him. One would assume he’s starving, but he’s not; he just likes the security of a full bowl. Once it’s filled, however, he’s consumed by anxiety that someone else is going to take it, though no one else ever has. (Rosie, always polite and well-mannered, wouldn’t. Besides her pleasant nature I’m sure she wouldn’t see the point. There’s been food in her bowl everyday; there always will be.)
After a bit of pacing he begins to push his bowl with this nose to a safer spot. He usually leaves it under a kitchen chair, which causes us all to furrow our brows – it’s not hidden after all – but we don’t say anything because he has made such a terrific effort. He has, accidentally I think, though Bill does not agree, pushed it down the basement stairs which made an impressive noise. Sometimes I am reduced to all fours looking under the low shelf of the kitchen island, which, as far as hiding places go, is the best. Last week it was behind the basket where we keep shoes and a few times he’s pushed it all the way across the kitchen and covered it with the rug by the back door.
Today I came home and could not find it in any of the usual, or unusual, spots. The youngest helped for a while, but we finally gave up. An hour or so later I found his bowl nestled in the corner of the powder room behind the door. So, he had pushed it across the kitchen, down the hall, through the family room, into the powder room and around the door. He followed me in as I went and looked at the bowl as I did and then back up into my face. Then he sat, as he does, with enthusiasm and pride at his best (and only) trick. I reached down and held his jaw in my hand, his jowls damp against the edges of my palm and said, “Someday you will be a noble beast.” Someday, but not today.