I did my best work late at night until Zoe and Rocket, the Canine Odd Couple, got together. Zoe is my 18-pound cocker mix, and Rocket is our housemate, a 45-pound lab-basset hound mix. They’re friends, but don’t really play together. They nap together on the couch, and they’ve worked out this carefully choreographed routine to disrupt my work as much as possible.
We go through this cycle at least once every night. I think the record is three full repeats.
There are a few minutes between steps: just enough time that I can start working on something but not get very far and be completely disrupted.
1. Zoe asks me to go out. I let her out.
2. She pesters me for food. I give her food. (She’s a very finicky eater; if she’s willing to eat, I offer her food.)
3. She refuses to eat the food.
4. Food-getting sounds wake up Rocket, asleep on the couch, who is obsessed with food.
5. I guard the food or top it with yogurt, carrots, Vita-Gravy, or daubs of hummus while trying to convince Zoe to eat.
6. Rocket tries to steal Zoe’s food after she turns her nose up at it and walks away. He either manages to steal it, or I give him a few kibbles to make him happy.
7. Rocket whines to go out. I let him out.
8. Zoe starts pawing at the crate door, trying to open it. Her food is in her crate. I get up and let her in, but have to stand guard against Rocket.
9. She sniffs the food, is disappointed that it hasn’t turned into bananas, and walks away.
10. Rocket sits next to the crate alternately crying and trying to get at the kibble bowl with his tongue.
11. Zoe asks to get in the crate again. Annoyed, I lock her in and go back to work.
12. She cries pitifully to be let out and tries to unlatch it from the inside. Now I have one dog crying to be let in the crate and eat the food, and one crying to be let out of the crate so she doesn’t have to be near the food. I let her out and remove the bowl to somewhere completely out of the dogs’ reach, like on top of the toaster oven, or possibly Vermont.
13. Zoe finds the most obnoxious squeaky toy she can and throws it at my feet in order to wake up everyone in the house and get me to play.
14. Rocket stares at me and whines pitifully because he wants the spot on the couch that I have pre-warmed.
15. I am exceptionally well-trained. I throw the toy and shift positions on the couch.
16. The dogs settle in and go back to sleep.
An hour passes. Maybe two. Then we start again. Back to #1.