If you have a pet, at least one of a furry variety, you have probably observed at one point or another that this creature seems to think itself a person.
It might be evident by the way your instructions are greeted with the indifference of a teenager wearing earbuds. Maybe by the sense of entitlement exhibited when you are plating up dinner for the human segment of your home's population. Perhaps by the concern and sensitivity shown when a member of your family is hurt or feeling sadness. Or by the propensity for sleeping smack in the middle of the bed, hogging both the covers and the pillows. Even by the necessity for Amazon to send an auto-e-mail reccommending other models of refrigerator locks for your consideration.
I've had a lot of dogs in my time, and every one of them has shown some or all of the above characteristics--and then some. But Petunia, well, she's more like a person than a lot of people I know.
She's very, very smart.
Phoebe gets a lot of press because she does a lot of newsworthy things, but while she has demonstrated extreme agility getting into or out of all the places she shouldn't, her social game is lacking, to say the least.
Petunia's communication skills are excellent. She smiles, she sneers, she regards Phoebe with a confused expression as if to say, "What is WRONG with you, for the love of God?" She wags her tail if I do a little dance; she dances herself if the situation calls for it. Upon returning home, when I ask her if she missed me, she dances first, then puts her paws on my shoulders in the affirmative. (If I don't ask the question, she will not jump up.) When coming in from outside on a rainy day, she voluntarily lifts all four feet in succession to be wiped.
She's funny. When I make faces at her, she makes faces back. When she finds herself amusing, which is often, she throws her head back in an open-mouthed laugh. She is shocked anytime one of the other dogs receives attention from anyone, furrowing her brow and pawing at the offending human, "Hello! Why would you talk to PHAWN when I'M RIGHT HERE?"
She's in complete control of the household, myself included. What Petunia wants, Petunia gets. I'm not ashamed to say it. If she wants out, she opens the door and they all go out. If she wants in, she opens the door and they all come in. The rest will wait at the top of the stairs, no one going down until she goes first. She's a bully, snapping at the others frequently, though rarely making contact, just to remind everyone of the order of things. And then she laughs, because they buy it. She plays king of the hill on the bed and won't let anyone up without my escort. She does the same just inside the office door, or the bedroom door, requiring them to seek my assistance to enter. And then she laughs, because I do it.
But as it turns out, there is quite a good reason that she doesn't act like a dog: she's not a dog.
She has a fairly pronounced groove under her fur that runs vertically from just behind the crown of her head to about her collar. You can't see it, and I'd probably have to place your hand there in order for you to find it, but then you'd agree that it is unusual.
It's a zipper.
I suspect she is a class-clown teenage human being in a really good Halloween costume, who failed to consider that the lack of opposable thumbs would make it impossible to get back out. She stumbled upon me, discovered she could rule her world as a dog-person with much greater totality and far less work than as a person-person, and the rest is history. She's a little like Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but smarter. Ferris Bueller. She's Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago, playing a Mastiff.
Which is fine with me, because I like her better this way.