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MUSINGS

A Miniature Puppet Master Inspired by the addition of tiny Bentley to the household, Bob McMillan ponders the countless theories surrounding dogs and their behavior

Bentley may be small in stature but his impact on the McMillan household has been enormous

I

’d heard about dogs like Bentley—manipulative, ready to take over the house and quite likely the entire block, a mastermind who bends all other dogs to his will. Bentley was my first chance to observe a Svengali of the dog world in his native habitat, which in this case was in my lap in my own home, looking up at me with huge, sincere, moist brown eyes. The little guy really had me, until a better lap came along and I watched him work his mojo on another sap. It took me a while to understand Bentley. He came to us with two others rescued by my daughter, who moved in after a job layoff. We already had two Scottish deerhounds and a wolfhound, so we were now a house of six dogs and two testy cats. The floor squirmed with fur. In the chaos, Bentley kept to the fringes and quietly studied the situation. He’s a dapper little guy with a Chihuahua face on a sleek hound body, easy to lose in the shuffle of giant hounds and smaller dogs winding around their legs like eels. A clear-eyed trainer would have spotted Bentley as the dog who was pulling

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BARKS from the Guild/July 2014

the strings right away, but I was hanging onto the notion that dogs are cute, scruffy Disney characters, and Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy, Doc and Sleepy were falling fast under the sway of Fagin, the puppet master. One of the rescues, Memphis, who was a resource hoarder, had a kennel in the corner where he felt more secure with the other dogs. The kennel was packed with rare treasures—old socks, odd shoes, dish towels and, from the way Memphis growled at anyone who merely glanced at his stuff, maybe a piece of the True Cross and the Holy Grail. I saw it one day out of the corner of my eye and at the time it barely registered. That’s how subtle Bentley was. While Memphis was in his den gleefully counting doubloons, Bentley crept right in, inspected his food bowl and crept back out with a sock. Fur did not fly. There were no yowls or bloodletting. Bentley just went in, looked Memphis in the eye and took his sock. I saw it happen a couple more times before my daughter rescued us from her rescues. A week later, my daughter brought Bentley back be-

Profile for The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild Summer 2014  

Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild

BARKS from the Guild Summer 2014  

Your BARKS summer edition. The quarterly publication from The Pet Professional Guild