"I think your dog is judging me," I said to my brother. We were having lunch at his house and the dog was giving me the side eye. "You think he thinks I took too many potato chips? I looked at the dog. "Did I take too many potato chips, Elvis?"
The dog squinted at me.
"I think he wants your potato chips," my brother said.
I looked back at the dog. He definitely had a judgmental look about him, which is quite a feat for a golden retriever -- a breed that never looks judgmental but almost always looks thrilled to be with you, wherever you are, at any time. But Elvis didn't look thrilled. He looked judgy. Disapproving. And just a little bit accusatory.
"Am I sitting in his seat?" I wondered.
"What?" said my brother. "No. he's a dog. He doesn't have a seat."
"Maybe he thinks I smell bad," I wondered.
"This is a dog that rolls in dead things," he said. "I don't think he thinks you smell bad."
"Then it's my shirt, right?" I said. "Does he think it makes me look fat?"
"NO! It doesn't. He doesn't," he said.
"Then why is he looking at me like that?" I asked.
We both turned to look at the dog, who immediately turned away and stared at a spot on the wall, like only someone who was looking at you judgmentally and didn't want to get caught would do. The dog feigned indifference and pretended that all was fine in the world while I knew it was just an act for my brother, and as soon as my brother shrugged and went back to his lunch, Elvis looked back at me and gave me the side eye.
I decided two could play at that game, so I raised one eyebrow and stared back at him. But he just dog-judged me harder and I knew I was definitely in the doghouse for something.
"I think I have offended him in some way," I said to my brother. "Maybe I have bad breath? Bad hair? Ugly shoes?"
"Who?" he said.
"Are we still talking about that?" he said. "He just wants your food."
"No, that's not it," I said. "I know a 'Gimme food' stare when I see one and that's not it. It's something else."
I realized that I was probably beginning to sound paranoid and there was a good chance my brother was soon going to judge me, too, and then I would be getting accusatory glances from both of them, and I would just have to take my potato chips and leave. Fortunately, I had a long history with my brother, and he knew I was a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, so he nodded, looked around, and then smiled.
"I got it," he said.
"It's my shirt, right?" I said. "He doesn't like my shirt?"
"No," he said, reaching over to my chair.
"You're sitting on his lambie."
Tracy Beckerman is the author of the Amazon Bestseller, "Barking at the Moon: A Story of Life, Love, and Kibble," available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online! You can visit her at www.tracybeckerman.com. To find out more about Tracy Beckerman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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