The dog-who-must-not-be-written-about was moping around Monday morning, sighing heavily and refusing to come to me for a pet.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked.
"Uh, wrong?" he mumbled, pretending he hadn't heard me.
"Yes. Your body language is sending a pretty strong message of unhappiness," I said. "Did something happen?"
"I just have a question," he pouted.
"At your service," I said, biting my tongue.
"Is that puppy going to be coming around here often?"
"Puppy? Oh, do you mean the baby?" Morgan and Dan came to show off our new granddaughter, Peyton, to the family last weekend, admittedly creating a happy fuss among the grownups.
"Puppy, baby, same thing," he said. "Just another one of those words ending in ‘y' that you humans go crazy over."
"Oh, really? Words ending in ‘y'?"
"Sure, ‘puppy, baby, money, honey, sunny, funny'. You never met a ‘y' word that didn't send you into raptures," he said rather snidely.
"What about ‘tragedy'?" I said, thinking I had him cornered.
"Hah! That's the one you humans love best of all"¦if it happens to someone else. You can get months of mileage from a good tragedy!"
"That's not fair! How about ‘windy', or ‘attorney'?"
"Ooh!" he mimicked, hitting rather too close to home, "did you hear the wind last night? It was so windy! And attorney! You humans have more attorneys than a dog has fleas. You love your attorneys."
"Okay, I concede," I said. "But we still have the problem of the baby, don't we?"
"Not if they keep her where she belongs"¦in Illinois!" he said.
"Well, they're not going to do that, because she's part of the family now, and we all love her," I said. "She's beautiful, and sweet, and a really, really, good baby."
"She barks too much," he said.
"She doesn't bark at all, she just cries when she's hungry," I defended, "or needs a change of diaper."
"Aha! If I remember correctly, I was never allowed to wear a diaper. Even as a brand-new puppy, you shoved me out the back door to do my business. And another thing, you never held me while I ate. And you didn't think it was adorable when I chewed things"¦as puppies will do."
"Puppies are a different thing entirely!" I started.
"And I never in all my six years remember you singing to me. Not even a chorus of ‘How much is that doggy in the window' or ‘Who let the dogs out'. Is it any wonder I'm a little out of sorts?"
"You get a regular spa day," I tried.
"That's a haircut, sister!" he said rather forcefully. "And I never ask for it."
"I suppose you never asked to be born, either," I said. "But you were, and you're a dog, a very wonderful dog, but still a dog. Peyton is a baby human being, and requires different handling, you might say."
He was silent for a while, pacing in front of the windows, looking out at the lilac tree, and the few leaves clinging to its branches.
"Will you still love me?" he asked quietly.
"Of course," I said, "you're still my little doggy, and I still go crazy over you."
That seemed to satisfy him. Until the next visit. Until Peyton starts crawling, walking, talking, and stealing his toys.
"I can't wait to see her again," I whispered to myself.
"I heard that!" he said. "Have you forgotten my superior canine talents already?"