“Bad Choices” is a phrase Lynnette and I developed early on in Madison’s life. We believed it was a simple enough concept for Madison to understand in the event that she made a mistake or somehow displeased us. “Bad choices!” we’d say, as a way of calling attention to her gaffe, then proceed to explain what she had done wrong, what she should have done, and finally what our future expectations were. Mad’s development and intellect no longer require such a rudimentary procedure, but “Bad Choices!” can still be heard frequently in our home, aimed at one Abby Bronte Higa.
As has been well documented in this space, Abby is prone to flippant disregard of the puppy pads we lay out for her to do her business on, especially if we’re gone for a while. In fact, the suspense of such a discovery is the focal point of any arrival back home. To set the scene:
The three of us arrive home and begin the trek up the stairs. Lynnette shouts “I hope someone made good choices!” I am usually up the stairs first, but even if there is a bad choice or two awaiting us on the carpet, I don’t say anything because Lynnette’s reactions are the best. Arrrggghh!! Abby! Bad Choices! Sometimes, Lynnette shuns Abby, “Nobody talk to Abby!” Lynnette says as she begins the process of cleaning up after the Ab.
These fecal booby traps are enough to convince me that Abby is a spiteful dog – she knows right from wrong – but she does something else that might be considered even more devious: she tries to break our ankles.
Abby has a rope bone that she totes around the house. She often brings it to bed and lies near it. This became such a frequent occurrence that Mad took to calling the rope bone Abby’s “Honey,” likening it to her own longtime stuffed animal lifemate. The rope bone never stays in the bed, however. At some point after we’ve fallen asleep, Abby moves under the cover of darkness and strategically places the rope bone on the floor.
When I wake up in the morning bleary-eyed and before the sunrise, I move toward the bathroom. I cannot count the number of frickin’ times I have rolled my ankle on the rope bone in this exact spot. It’s brilliance is matched only by its deviousness. By leaving the bone in this location, Abby gives herself the three chances at destroying me. If it doesn’t get me during my first pass to the bathroom, there’s a pretty good chance it will catch me either on the way out of the bathroom (after I’ve turned the light off so as not to bother my wife) or out of the bedroom (again, in darkness). It’s a sick game. Sometimes when I step on it, I’ll whisper-yell a curse word, then Lynnette will snicker from the bed.
It’s always in a hallway! She understands that hallways limit movement in the area and by nature funnels traffic right into her rope bone. You can’t convince me otherwise. You just can’t. If Abby drops her beloved “Honey” around the corner, it’s a mortal lock that I’ll step on it. Since I haven’t come across it to this point, the possibility is already absent from my mind. It’s 4:55 in the morning. My thoughts are not complex. I am not three steps ahead. The switch for the hallway light is on the wall facing away from the hallway, so I’ll never illuminate the area in time to avoid Abby’s nefarious trap.
Look at her. The smugness of the slight head turn. She wants to be photographed. She knows that we know. She wants us to know that she knows we know. Behind those dark eyes, the mind of brilliant military tactician churns. Her mind always on the next ankle to shatter, the next muffled curse word to fill her morning with delight. Her mind, surveying the landscape of our home, considering the best possible location to strike. These thoughts fill her lonely days and are only briefly interrupted by thoughts of Greenies and belly scratches. This is what happens when you go to your stupid human jobs and leave me alone all day. The water in my bowl is room temperature, you scoundrels. You don’t even let me watch f*cking Animal Planet. I will ruin you. I will ruin you all – one ankle at a time.