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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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To work or not to work (11/10/2013)
By Frances Edstrom

“You ate my checkbook!” I screamed at the dog-who-must-not-be-written-about.

“Be fair, now. Not the whole thing,” he replied.

“Enough to mess up my bookkeeping,” I said, picking up the shreds from the kitchen floor.

“I was just trying to save you the pain you seem to feel every time you look in that thing,” he said. “I can’t stand to see you looking so worried. And it takes you away from our family interaction time.”

“If you’d get a job, my checkbook wouldn’t cause me nearly the pain it does,” I countered. “Just the other day I was reading about dogs that can be trained to detect all sorts of human medical maladies. Why can’t you do something like that? That would be a lot more useful than eating my checkbook.”

“Just trying to help.”

“Well, did you take into account how much work this will cause me to try to figure it out again? No, of course not,” I said.

“I can sniff things out,” he said, rather defensively, I thought.

“Sure, like what?” I asked.

“The usual. You know, where I’ve been before.”

“Most of us don’t have to “sniff it out” to remember where we’ve been. Especially if we never leave the yard!” I was ready to be done with this discussion.

“I found a dead bird. Remember?” he said.

“How could I forget?” I said. “It was very unfair of you to bring it into the house when it was dark outside. I didn’t even know you had it until there it was, on the carpet! Pretty disgusting, and unsanitary, I might add.”

“It seemed cruel to leave it outside where the cats could get it,” he said. He is very jealous of the cats who come into the yard and sit under the bird feeders.

“From now on, it is the custom in this house to remove dead animals. Got it?” I said pointedly. “Now, back to the possibility of your using your heightened senses to do something useful. The article said that dogs can sense if a person has cancer by sniffing their breath! Dogs can also detect oncoming seizures, diabetic blood sugar levels, blood pressure problems, even heart attacks!”

“Dogs are cool,” he said.

“But what about you?” I asked. “Why don’t you put your doggy talents to work? Sitting around the house all day is getting you nowhere.”

“You’re right,” he said. “You are absolutely right. Let me give it some thought.”

Later, after I had pieced together enough of the checks to read the numbers, I sat down to read my book in the den. I could hear the dog slurping water in the pantry. Soon, the slurping stopped and he moseyed into the room.

“I have a plan,” he said.

“Wow, great! I am very impressed,” I said.

“It really doesn’t pay for me to try to operate outside my skill set,” he began. “This is a tough market, too. What if all the health-sniffing jobs are filled? What if I learn to sniff out heart attacks and all of a sudden they find a cure for heart attacks? Then I would be unemployed, or worse, underemployed. I really think I should stick to what I know, even if it doesn’t bring in a great deal of compensation. It’s not as though I need the money. I live here with you, very comfortably. I have enough to eat. I can exercise in the yard.”

“Who do you think pays for all that?” I asked, a little miffed that he felt no need to help out around the house.

“You do! But you’re the one with the paycheck. You’ve already built a career, and you don’t mind working hard. You always tell people you love your job!” He looked at me with wide eyes.

“You could learn to love a job, too,” I said, trying to refrain from bombastics.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” he said. “My generation just doesn’t have that need to devote our lives to the old nose-to-the-grindstone. We have technology! We don’t really need to give up having a life outside the job.”

“What job?” I screamed. “You don’t do anything! You eat up my checkbook! The checkbook that helps me buy you food, pays the heat bill, mows the lawn, keeps the cold water coming for your bowl! You need to be a contributor!”

“Calm down, for heaven’s sake!” he said. “I’ll consider contributing. In fact, I can think of a project I can complete without any further training. I can start right now!”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to yell. What is this project?”

He came closer, and said as though revealing the secret to the fountain of youth, “I can sniff out when the trash can needs emptying!”

“I can look in the trash can myself!” I said, as evenly as I could muster. “Why don’t you try sniffing out the phone number of the Poodle Rescue Services!”

“Couldn’t you just look that up?” he asked. 


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