We've had houseguests this week. They're not the kind of company requiring new bed linens, our "good" towels or fancy little soaps.
Toss a couple of old blankets on the floor, and these guys are happy campers.
Angel and Spencer are my sister's two dogs. I volunteered to keep them while she recoups at home after a long hospital stay.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
My family has been sans canine since our beloved Spike died two years ago. After my grieving waned, I resolutely announced I did not want a replacement pooch. Not in my lifetime, I said. I'm talking the 12th of never, people. No way, no how, no Purina puppy chow.
I loved Spike; don't get me wrong. But he was a royal pain in the you-know-what and, had it not been for my refillable Xanax prescription, his barking would have driven me over the edge.
He yipped as we walked in the door. He yapped when the mailman came. And, when we had people over ...
What am I saying? We never had people over. Why? Because he barked incessantly, nipped at our friends' feet and leaked so much on our living room rug, 10 super-scented candles couldn't mask the stench.
My mind was made up. No more dogs. Ever.
Enter Angel and Spencer. Angel is a Maltese, an adorable snow-white puffball. Spencer's a handsome and spry Schnauzer in black. Watch them frolicking together in the yard, and I dare you not to break into a chorus of "Ebony and Ivory."
At first, they behaved like civilized guests should - shy, somewhat reserved. We broke the ice with refreshments - matching bowls of cool, fresh water and pastel-colored biscuits. Soon Angel was entertaining us with her funny counterclockwise spins, and Spencer perched on the ottoman, winning us over with Disney-esque cuteness.
"Maybe a dog wouldn't be so bad," I said that night, stroking Angel's impossibly soft fur as she cuddled in my lap. "We could get two so they could keep each other company during the day. A house feels more like a home with man's best friends around. Maybe I'll call the pound tomorrow, see what they've got."
Fifteen minutes later, I shrieked from the bedroom, "Which one of you miserable mutts used my closet as your personal toilet!"
Despite numerous visits to the backyard, Angel had left me housewarming gifts on the carpet, in two unmistakable scents: Maltese No. 1 and No. 2.
The next day - a Sunday - our two visitors spent the afternoon yelping at anything that moved outside our windows. I continued to find little surprises in corners, compliments of the devilish Angel.
Spencer nipped at the ankles of a friend who dropped by.
Our doggie gates, long retired to the attic, were immediately put back in place. Every trip to the kitchen became a Mexican border crossing. "Stay back, dogs! No paso!" I felt like a prisoner in my own home.
On Thursday, I came home for lunch to let my houseguests out to do their business.
Suddenly, I noticed something strange hanging under Spencer's stubby tail. An all-too familiar odor filled the air. Then I saw it: a frighteningly large piece of Spencer's "business" had affixed itself to his backside. Houston, we have a problem.
I'll spare you the details of what happened next, but one frantic call to the vet and two rolls of toilet paper later, my white slacks were toast, and that dog was in the tub getting the bath of his life.
That evening, my daughter came home from work, hugged Spencer happily and asked, "Did you call the pound today?"
I glared at her and said, "No way, no how, no Purina puppy chow."