Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Lesson Number Twelve: What’s Hers Is Hers, and What’s Mine Is Hers

In the fall of 2000 after years of renting, we finally purchased a home. Our new home had both a family room and a living room. We were very excited about the idea of having some new furniture; our living room couch and loveseat were purchased in 1991 when we moved to Kenosha. Our family room sofa bed was in decent condition but was extremely uncomfortable. We made the decision to discard the sofa bed and use the couch and loveseat in our new family room, which was on the lower level. We would purchase new furniture for the living room, which was the room that all visitors to our house would see. After we ordered a cream-colored couch, the concern that Jim and I shared was that Bijoux wouldn’t stay off the new furniture. (Remember, the Couch Incident?)

We became determined to work extra hard to teach this old(er) dog a new trick. After our new furniture was delivered, we were extremely diligent in keeping Bijoux on the floor. In fact, she adopted my eight-foot by ten-foot Oriental Poppy wool rug from Pottery Barn as her very own, and eventually parked herself there whenever we were in the living room or the adjacent dining room.

Time after time Bijoux tried to hop up and settle herself on the new couch with us, and time after time we would scold her. After a couple of weeks, she was able to remember that the new couch was “ours”, yet she was still allowed on “her” couch and loveseat in the family room. Or so I thought... actually, she yet again proved that she was smarter than we gave her credit for!

One morning I left the house as usual. I backed the car out of the garage and into the street. Suddenly, I realized that I forgot something. I drove back up the driveway and ran into the house. The forgotten item was in the kitchen and as I ran up the stairs, I noticed a familiar black, brown, and white furry ball curled up on “our” couch. Bijoux’s head shot up with a start when she realized that I was back in the house, and as she saw me (and heard me scolding her), she slunk, ears pulled back as far as they could go, off the couch and onto the rug.

When I returned to my car, I started the ignition again and began to back out into the street. I looked at our picture window and noticed Bijoux sitting on our couch, watching me drive away. Amazingly, as I glared at her from the driver’s seat and pointed my finger downward…and she got down. (It was highly unlikely, I’ll concede, that she saw the way I glared at her, however, I’m pretty certain she sensed the anger in the way I was gesturing to her!) I drove away, laughing.

After that episode, I watched the picture window carefully when I left the driveway. Sometimes I could see Bijoux’s cute little face near the bottom of the window as she watched me, and sometimes I saw her mostly-white body creep carefully up onto our couch, as if she thought that the slower she climbed up, the less chance there would be that she’d be noticed. Upon my return home, she was always smart enough to listen for the garage door. Once she heard that, she took off running towards the door in order to greet us as we came in.

Even today I giggle to myself when I think of her sneakiness, her knowing that at least while we were present, she wasn’t allowed on our couch—only on hers.