Every community has local rules, rules unique to that area. In Canyon Lake, there’s a local rule about refrigerators in the grocery store having live bait. In New Braunfels, there’s a local rule that no one is to use the spiral pattern when driving the traffic circle, much to the consternation of lost Europeans.
Every house has its local rules, too. Ours has plenty, like everyone gets one pair of shoes by the door (but only one). Socks, however, are allowed to accumulate like leaves, eventually requiring a leaf blower to move them to the laundry basket.
But recently I overheard Bahnie and Archer, our pit bull mix and terrier, discussing something I didn’t realize we had: local dog rules.
Bahnie: The first rule is you have to leave the kitchen if mom says “Out of my kitchen” in her mad voice.
Archer: Even if there’s bacon. Which is totally unfair.
Bahnie (nodding): But there is a safe zone right by the cold box. If you stand there and wag your tail real slow and make your eyes super big, you might get something as long as you don’t cross that invisible kitchen line.
Archer: Whatever you do, do not jump, because then you have to go outside.
Bahnie (solemnly): That’s the WORST.
Archer (jumping up): Ooh! Ooh! How about cold box cleaning day?
Bahnie (tail wagging): Right. Ok. The second rule is listen carefully for dad making a lot of noise in the cold box. When he’s in there he makes lots of noises like “how old is this?” and “I knew we weren’t going to eat this.”
Archer: And if you stand right by your bowl, sometimes he’ll drop something amazing in there.
Bahnie: Sometimes you have to sit first.
Archer: True. But it’s worth it. (tapping his paw in thought) Hey… How about the magic bowl rule?
Bahnie: I don’t know. That’s not really a rule. More like a mystery.
Bahnie: Okay. Sometimes if you stare really hard at your bowl while everyone else is eating at the table, food will magically fall into your bowl.
Archer: I still say it’s Dad throwing it.
Bahnie (shaking her head): I’ve never caught him doing it.
Archer: He’s very sneaky.
Bahnie: True. (smirking slightly) Hey, how about the running loose rule?
Archer (proudly): Technically that only applies to me.
Bahnie: Because I know how to behave.
Archer: You’re a prisoner of your conditioning.
Bahnie: It’s called training. And discipline.
Archer (shrugging): I’m still a free spirit.
Bahnie: That’s the kind of talk that gets you dragged back to the pound.
Archer (in a panic): Never! Wait. Really?
Bahnie (archly): How do you think you ended up there in the first place?
Archer (worried): Well, as long as I jump in the car when mom drives down the road to get me, I should be okay, right?
Archer: Mom! I have a question…
I’m relieved to learn there are a few rules around here – even if they aren’t exactly the rules I had in mind.