The dog rules on earning one’s keep

I was sitting on my wicker couch by the creek a couple of days ago on one of those windy September afternoons that produces very bad hair and smacks of a season I am not yet prepared for.
Where did the summer go? I could have sworn it was June 1st just yesterday and now suddenly I’m seeing more leaves on the ground than on the trees. The furnace has been turned over on a chilly night or two, and hot chocolate is starting to sound like a good alternative to a cold glass of water.
I am a first born list maker and the one I wrote out at the beginning of the summer with all the “to-do’s” I wanted to accomplish before mid-September is sadly little more than half-done.
This one-woman show needs a genetic scientist, a DNA swab, and a cloning program in order to get things done around here.
As I was sitting there by the creek, I asked the dogs when I might expect them to earn their keep and help out.
All I got was a wet-nose rub and sloppy lick of canine jowls across the hand I’d just washed.
Then “Dot” promptly trotted to the spot on the ground nearby, where the cat had spat out a mouse’s giblets (now covered in flies) and ate them, then looked at owner as if to ask, “Does that count?”
Owner wanted to throw up but was afraid the dog might eat that too, so instead walked off towards the barn to bang her head on some boards in the hope of shaking up a plan to duplicate herself once, maybe twice.
The dogs followed me in—no surprise on that score.
There’s always something better for dogs to do wherever I’m headed—or so I assume—seeing as how they are but a sniff away from me at all times.
And as I entered the barn that day, they were right on the mark.
The canine capers tore from zero to 60 in record time as the pigeon that lives in the hayloft made a run for it, having been found pecking at some old grain seed in a pail sitting on the main floor of the barn.
It was all I could do to duck out of the way as the bug-eyed bird scaled the free space over my head and soared up the stairs to his safety zone, trailed in high gear by a frenzy of fur and barking.
The calamity up there was phenomenal. Not only was it a deafening racket but a fine and steady stream of old hay dust poured through the cracks in the floor caking everything below including my hair and the five nice pieces of newly-painted screen door trim that could have used another hour’s drying time.
The helter skelter was not my idea of dogs earning their keep and a few choice words from the “Alpha” pulled them off pigeon duty and to outside where, pumped with doggie endorphins from all that flurry, they sped off into the field in pursuit of the invisible intruder.
I got busy in the barn and the next thing I knew two hours had passed as I’d fallen into those chores that had been a part of the half-done list of mine.
The dogs had come and gone tenfold during that time, wandering aimlessly in front of the barn doors as I had banned them from entry.
However by the time I finished up and headed back to the house the chumps were nowhere to be found and for a moment I reveled in the quiet of their absence.
I should have known something was up.
No sooner did I walk into the house did the two saps come racing out of the field, and straight past me and through the open door.
The stench of wild animal poop was wretched and unmistakable and when I looked upon the disaster I’m sure my bottom jaw cracked as it hit the floor.
Both dogs’ backs were covered in brown doo-doo; their fur matted with it and hay stubble. Obviously they’d rolled in it in the field and marked themselves in a canine victory rub.
I wanted to duct tape them to the barn wall and walk away but they looked as happy as a pig in . . . . well, you get the idea.
And for a split second there I smiled thinking, “Who am I to decide what constitutes a dog earning its keep around here?” and then I realized I’d just been hired to wash them off.