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Many of you probably know by now that I have a dog who I occasionally speak to in Spanish. (The update on that, by the way, is that I’ve decided to keep doing it. It’s like an equalizer language between us. Neither one of us has any clue what the hell I’m saying, so we bond.)

Anyway, I’m a big supporter of dogs. Dogs are good. I like dogs. I’ve had a dog most of my life and will probably get stuck cleaning up after the wretched things until I die, probably by drowning in the fur left behind on the couch…  But I digress.

Being a dog owner carries with it a certain amount of responsibilities. Not just feeding and walking and the endless brushing or the sweeping of dog hair (so. much. dog hair. It’s endless. Please God, what have I done to deserve this?) But there’s a certain code, a set of unwritten rules that can sometimes create awkward moments. For instance:

I bought fast food the other day. (I shouldn’t since I’ve already regained half the weight I lost over the past year, but that’s another blog post.) I was in a hurry and it sounded tasty so I whipped through the drive through grabbed a value meal, burger and fries and headed home. My wife had come home from work at lunch without my knowing, but luckily had already eaten (so I didn’t feel like a complete tool for not getting her anything.)

We sat at the table and talked while we ate, my dog waiting and watching nearby. (Not really patiently, but in that predatory manner all dogs get when begging for table scraps.) I ate my burger and my wife stole my fries and everything was good… Until she reached for the bag.

“Wait, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Nothing. I was just going to steal the fries from the bottom of the bag.”

My dog and I both stiffened. I could feel his trepidation boring into my back. Slowly, I reached for the bag. “I’m sorry, babe,” I said as gently as I could. “I can’t let you do that.”

“Huh?” she was shocked. “Why not?”

This was hard to explain. Did she not know the rules? She’d grown up with dogs, had she never learned the code?? “I…” I was stuck, this was officially awkward. For a moment, I considered giving in, but the ever-constant mass of fur pressing against my side stiffened my resolve.

“Baby,” I said. “you’re my wife.” Her eyes narrowed a little, preparing for the awkward statement she now knew was coming. “I’ll give you the rest of my fries if you want. You can have a bite of my burger. It’s just…” I hesitated. The code was unwritten, but sometimes you have to fight tradition and put into words those most common base beliefs. “There’s a code, a covenant older than civilization…” My wife rolled her eyes, reaching for the bag again. My dog whined, my heartbeat quickened, I couldn’t fail him. I grabbed the bag and upended it onto the ground.

“I’m sorry babe, a man’s bag fries belong to his dog.” I shook my head. “That’s just the way it is.”

She furrowed her brow at me for a moment, trying to decide if it was worth fighting over and then shrugged, stealing the rest of my burger. “Whatever.”

I let out a breath and finished my soda. I was hungry, but content. Sometimes it feels good to do the right thing.

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