Sunday, September 21, 2008

Monsters Among Us

A monster lives in our closet. For most of the week he sleeps silently, but when he wakes no one in the house can escape his roar. Far from hiding his presence, he glides through the house trumpeting his arrival, his long snout constantly sniffing the floor.

This, no doubt, is how our dog views the vacuum cleaner, or Vacuumonster, a name she would doubtless find fitting. When Lucy was first introduced to the Vacuumonster it was, to say the least, a traumatic experience. We quickly learned, after her initial shock resulted in wetting the carpet, that Lucy needed some time to adjust to the Vacuumonster's presence, so for many months she stayed in the yard whenever he came out to play.

Thankfully Lucy has learned that the Vacuumonster is mostly harmless. Only mostly, though, as she would rather not be within ten feet of the thing. Lately I've had the idea that if we could ween her of her fear completely, we might be able to encourage a symbiotic relationship between our two resident beasts. The Vacuumonster could use his brush attachment to remove Lucy's loose fur, keeping Lucy clean and Vacuumonster gainfully employed. The way it is he already spends most of his time sucking Lucy's loose fur off the floor, anyway. This would just cut out the middle man. I realize this may sound weird, but I had an organ teacher in high school who vacuumed his cats, and they seemed completely unfazed.

Today I decided to try to introduce Lucy to this idea, albeit gently. With the Vacuumonster turned off, I called her to the front landing and, holding onto the scruff of her neck with one hand, softly moved the brush over her back. To her credit, Lucy did not run away in terror, although I did recognize a look of frozen fear in her eyes. "IT'S TOUCHING ME," the look look said. "OK, don't panic, but - OHNONONOIT'STOUCHINGME. Must. Slink. Away. Now!"

I tried to reassure her that the Vacuumonster was friendly by pretending to vacuum my own leg. Lucy cast one glance behind her as she slunk down the stairs, a look that clearly implied that her mistress was INSANE, and she should therefore get to the safety of her sofa as soon as possible.

I suppose I should just be thankful that we don't have to banish Lucy from the house every time we vacuum now. This is, after all, the dog who cowered in abject terror under a chair the first time she encountered the oscillating ceiling fan. The world of the modern house dog is apparently full of dangers we humans blissfully ignore. I'm sure Lucy is just waiting for that time when the Vacuumonster will give in to its true nature and actually suck one of us up along with the dog hair and dust mites.

"See?" Lucy will say with her eyes. "I KNEW it couldn't be trusted! You should have let me lick the floors clean instead."

No comments: