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The dog ate my ham sandwich

The Missing Ham Sandwich

    The dog ate my ham sandwich.  Off my plate.  When I was in the other room.  She shoved aside the lettuce and it fell on the floor.  She looked positively guilty with mustard on her whiskers.  I shouted at her, "Naughty dog!" and sent her to the basement with her curly tail uncurled. 

    I glimpsed for a moment a hint of our first parents after they ate the forbidden fruit and hid in the bushes. 

    Tappy, the guilty bichon friese, our two year old house pet, has lately taken to sitting at the kitchen table whenever we sit down to eat a meal or a snack.  She looks imploringly at our plates, whimpering ever so slightly whenever we make eye contact with her.  But until recently she did not cross the threshold from eagerness to consumption.  Of course, this time we weren't in the room.

    I have long maintained that man's best friend mimics man's habits.  A college classmate in his senior year was trailed from class to class by a pet dog.  The classmate dressed like a slob.  His dog spent the hour of instruction chewing dried gum off the bottom of desk chairs. 

    Not that I am in the habit of stealing sandwiches from my wife's plate... although I have been known to sneak a tidbit every now and then. 

    With Tappy I perceive a tendency of mine (and almost all the rest of humankind) to turn a privilege into an entitlement.  Joining the family around the table becomes license to eat from our plates.  A dog, of course, has a better excuse than we do when led into temptation.  It follows its nose without the brake of a conscience.  Nor does it, when caught, do our usual downward spiral into self-justification.  It/she just skulks away intensely aware that she is under a great cloud of disapproval.

    On the bright side, Tappy's release from the doghouse is a replay of the return of the leper (one in ten) to thank Jesus for healing him.  Actually, Tappy's rejoicing is greater than that recorded in the New Testament.  Picture the little dog emerging from the bushes, er... basement, eyes upraised in hope of a kind word.  When I utter a teasing but happy, "Oh, you  naughty dog," she sidles up to me, tail curled once again (and wagging), hopeful, but not quite sure, that she has recovered favor in her master's eyes.  When I sit down in the recliner and invite her to my lap, she leaps immediately in to the corduroy nest tongue searching for my chin, body all awiggle.  Ah, sweet, sweet redemption!

    This past Sunday morning the preacher quoted from an Internet piece that has been forwarded to just about everybody:  It's entitled, "Things We Can Learn from Dogs."  I would add to that list, with the ham sandwich eater in mind, three more doggy admonitions:

        When you have been naughty, skulk away without excuses.

        When let out of the doghouse, jump into your Master's lap and lick his chin.

        And, most important, never forget that a privilege is a privilege.




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