When I got married, my mother congratulated me: “Now you’ll have a spouse to get you out of any situation. ‘Sorry, I can’t view your vacation photos, Vicar — the wife needs me at home.’ ‘Can’t make it to your dog’s birthday party, Helen — the husband needs me to run some errands.'”
It turns out that having a spouse is a wonderful excuse everywhere.
I: “My wife just went to jail. This is her dog — I just don’t have time for it.” The Lhasa Apso and her four three-week-old puppies arrive in the footwell of a large and expensive pickup truck, driven by a man who cannot spell “Lhasa Apso”. A gap-toothed three-year-old grins innocently as a worker fishes the puzzled, tense dog and her brood out of the truck. Driver and son don’t even follow the dog indoors, filling out the paperwork from the cab of the truck and driving swiftly off.
II: “I don’t know — she told me to bring it in, so I did.” The miniature Schnauzer is six months old, freshly groomed, terrified, and self defensive. “Dad” carries him under one arm like a football, shrugging one shoulder, gesturing with the dog. A shelter worker cautiously drops a slip lead over the growling dog’s head, makes careful friends, and carries him away. In the cage, wearing his expensive collar and tags, he will continue to growl, with huge, wide eyes. Dad doesn’t see this. He fills out the paperwork and walks away. He tosses “Poor puppy,” into the air, a parting gift as he strolls out the door, getting on with his day.