The lies we tell

I see a lot more of my canine neighbors now that most town parks and beaches are closed to dogs until after Labor Day. The warm weather coaxes our leashes out of hibernation and herds us along available trails or patches of grass in search of exercise. Forced out in the open like this, our community of dog owners reveals more than just its commitment and compassion for its four-legged companions.

It also reveals us to be liars. Absolute, shameless liars.

A healthy sense of shame stops us from making up ridiculous stories to teach our human children. After all, no parent wants to hear their grown child ask, “Why did you tell me the Underwear Fairy would place spiders inside my tummy if I didn’t put my dirty clothes in the hamper?” Our dogs can’t expose us like that, so we spend an inordinate amount of time lying to them. At least, I do.

If my dogs could actually confront me on my lies, I’d have a lot to confess:

• No, I’m not laughing with you as you bark at your reflection in the window; I’m laughing at you.

• I’m not flipping through pictures on my cell phone when you give me the “sad eyes;” I’m filming you so I can send it off to “”

• I’m not tying antlers around your head at Christmas because you look like a reindeer; I’m doing it because you couldn’t look like less of one.

• And no, you’re not the cutest little thing in the world; The dog down the street is far cuter and doesn’t roll in cat poop.

As long as I’m at it, the “Invisible Fence” that surrounds our yard isn’t a magical wall. It’s an underground wire that only shocks you when you have that “special” collar on. As a result, we don’t really have to jump in the car to go past the driveway; we do it to keep up the illusion. Whenever you seem to start figuring this out, I slap the collar back on. (Sorry.)

When you were a puppy, I didn’t have magical powers that drew you to me; I had a really long leash and fingers that smelled like bacon. I knew you’d never catch your own tail, but I never told you because it was so entertaining. Lastly, it really wasn’t that big a deal when you finally peed outside for the first time and not on the carpet; I was exaggerating when I clapped and danced and said you were the smartest thing ever. Truth be told, if it took another week we were going to send you out for testing.

I cry, “We’ll be right back,” as I leave for work each morning, but it’s a lie. My commute alone is more than two hours, but you can’t seem to tell time. I sometimes use regular dog food as treats when I forget to go shopping; I act like it’s something really special and delicious, but it’s the same dry crap you had all week. Every now and again, when you don’t eat your breakfast, I just mix in a little new food and give it back to you for dinner.

If I were really being honest, I’d admit I put you in that bumblebee costume because it was funny, not because you were cold. I’d acknowledge fibbing about how those vaccination shots aren’t going to hurt much; no one’s ever used a pig needle on me, so what do I know? I’d fess up that there are three dogs living just down the street you’d love, but I don’t bring you to see them because I’d rather eat crackers and watch Katie Couric after work.

No, it’s easier to keep lying to my dogs. I’ll have enough work explaining to my nephews that there’s really no such thing as a “Soda-Stain Monster” that lives under my car, terrorizing children who spill on the upholstery.

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