Friends Without Benefits

An amusing tale of four neighbors, two dogs, and one long night

By H.P Daily

We figured it would be a slumber party … it turned out to be a sibling rivalry. When we offered to help out our neighbor and board their dog Shaimus for the night, we figured it would be a fun sleep over for our Lab-Hound mix Quincy … but it wasn’t.

Shaimus is a tan-coated Retriever whose bark single-handedly serves as the Neighborhood Watch, saving everyone from vicious postmen and evil pizza deliverers. He and Quincy are casual pals, greeting each other on the sidewalk with the standard sniffing protocol until they’re distracted by something more intoxicating. As for shacking up under the same roof, however, Quincy demonstrated little hospitality.Just as soon as Shaimus entered the house, Quincy issued a protective, territorial growl, warning Shaimus to not take another step. So Shaimus plopped down in the entry foyer, a strip of real estate wedged between the front door, a squat bookcase filled with albums of my wife’s ex-boyfriends, and the entry way to Quincy’s fantastic three-bedroom lair—furnished with fleece carpets, a waterbed couch and a fridge stocked with some of the freshest rawhide available—flown in daily.

The geometry of Shaimus’ narrow parcel obscured his view corridor, so Quincy made sure to broadcast all of her delights by parading her stock of well-worQuincyn stuffed animals. “These are my morning stuffies, while those are my afternoon stuffies. My evening stuffies are nicely tucked into my comfortable dog bed, but I need not tax you with those at the moment.” Quincy continued with her show & tell, delighting in her riches as Shaimus laid in a pool of austerity.

My wife and I were hardly prepared for such a standoff. As the new parents of a five-month-old girl, we were well read in the area of parenting—but only through the chapters dedicated to newborns. Our bag of tricks was limited to sleep, feed, and change—hardly a strong enough grasp to break through this stalemate.

In brainstorming through the weapons at our disposal—negotiating, bribing, and the ever-potent timeout—it occurred to us that Shaimus held the higher ground here, as he was plopped in front of the front door­—the only means of egress. Quincy loves going outside. If Shaimus wasn’t allowed into the house, then Quincy wasn’t allowed outside—a newly adopted rule that we were certain would break the standoff. And it did—Quincy crapped in the kitchen.

Teaching a dog to share with a moment’s notice is like teaching a kid to read in a day. And while Quincy was wholly undeserving based on her behavior, we ultimately flooded the situation with treats. It was like giving a kid a Twizzlers, a Whatchamacallit and some Now ‘n’ Laters for doing the absolute wrong thing.

With the dogs hopped up on deliciousness, we negotiated a generous easement to access the front door. The peace accord lasted through the night, until the neighbors came home.  “Everything went fine—not a problem.” That’s what we told them, not wanting to admit that our dog’s lack of hospitality bordered on sadistic. But they must have known something was up as Quincy and Shaimus’ sidewalk meet-and-greets were never quite the same.

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