Raul Ascunce

The mysterious case of the throw rug critters

Having been a dog owner for roughly two years, I feel as though I have become an expert in the art of training and raising dogs. It is with smug confidence that I am able to counsel newbie dog owners on the appropriate techniques for canine behavior. (Not to brag, but I was able to tell a dog owner which end to feed her Shih Tzu.)

My Charles Ralph, an Australian Shephard mix, is a very intelligent breed and is doing a particularly good job of training me. He has taught me that he eats at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., to let him out whenever he hits his doorbell, and that a plethora of chewy bones should always be on hand for whenever he looks super cute — which is most of the time when he’s not pooping. (His poop-face is not cute.)

But recently, he has been exhibiting a behavior that I find rather quixotic.

“Honey,” I said to the wife, “what are you doing with the throw rug in my bathroom? Every morning it’s all bunched up. Is this some new-fangled Feng Shui thing?”

“I don’t touch your throw rug, dear, because it smells like your feet. I did notice your rug’s new arrangement, but I thought you were practicing your morning origami. Nice swan, by the way.”

“No, I didn’t do it. It must have happened during the night. Do we have a raccoon loose in the house? They are exceptionally clean and probably wipe their feet repeatedly when entering a room.”

“Right, we’ll go with that,” the wife said sarcastically. “There had better not be a raccoon in the house.”

Off and on for a couple of months my first trip to the potty each night revealed a cleverly designed and crumpled throw rug in front of my bathroom sink. It was a conundrum for which I had no answers.

One day the rug was shaped like a rabbit. The next day it was shaped like a squirrel. The following week, it was the neighbor’s cat.

“I am starting to see a pattern here,” I said to the wife. “The rug has been taking on shapes that Charlie like to chase.”

“That’s just absurd,” the wife said. “Are you thinking that Charlie gets up in the middle of the night to create throw rug characters?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him. That dog really likes to mess with our heads. Remember last week when he pretended to throw a ball, but didn’t? I spent 15 minutes looking for it.”

Well, the mystery was solved last week around 3 in the morning. I was suddenly awakened by the prancing and pawing of four tiny paws. Charlie had gotten up, walked over to the vanity, and for five minutes scratched and folded, rolled and kneaded the throw rug into an appropriate creation.

The next morning there was a near perfect Berber burrito on the bathroom floor.

“Good lord,” the wife said when she saw it. “That looks exactly like a burrito.”

“I think Charlie is placing his order for his 6 a.m. meal. He wants a breakfast burrito.”

“That’s amazing,” the wife said.

Why does Charlie wake up in the middle of the night to make throw rug creations? I don’t know, but I’m thinking of getting him a job on a cruise ship to make bath towel critters. Maybe we’ll get a free cruise out of it.

Raul Ascunce is a freelance columnist for the Sentinel-Tribune. He may be contacted at [email protected]