Many years ago, back when Joel and I still lived in Illinois, our friend Jasmine came to visit. We’d met Jas at my friend Wendy’s wedding in South Africa in 2004, and Jas stopped off to spend some time with use before continuing her journey.

Jas was departing on an afternoon flight, so I zipped home over lunch to take her and her suitcase to the airport. We thought it a bit odd that Jas’s bag had been opened, but when we found the crumpled and empty Dutch cookie wrapper, we knew that the guilyy culprit was Muddy. Many abject apologies and a hug at the departure gates later, I sent Jas off on her way to the West Coast. If cookies were the only victim of Muddy, that was a small price to pay.

The next day, I picked up this voicemail at the office.

“Hi Erin, it’s Jas. I just wanted to let you know that you dog also ate my underwear.”

I think I blushed just listening to that message. I certainly know that I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. You don’t know shame until you’ve had your dog open a guest’s luggage, eat their cookies, and then eat their underwear. I wanted to die. Muddy, of course, was completely fine and oblivious to my horror. Ever since that fateful pillage, however, I always leave the house with these words to the dogs:

I love you, I’ll be home soon, and DON’T EAT ANYTHING!!

It seems to work, as thus far, Beatrice has only eaten the bottom of her crate. Fortunately, Jas didn’t hold the lingerie destruction against us for too long. She and Rich swung through Austin last year to enjoy BBQ, the shooting range, and Cabela’s. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that the door to their room remain firmly closed no matter how often Eleanor offered to come in and snuggle.

When a friend posted to Facebook about talking to animals when she left the house, a light bulb went off: this would make a fantastic blog post! A rough, informal Facebook poll showed that many people talked to their pets before leaving or  before saying good night. As Doug rightly says, “They know what we’re saying most of the time, so how could we not talk to them?

Excellent point, Doug. And on that note, here is a discussion of what people say to their animals. We all do it, so why not share the love?

Millie says, “See ya later” to their African Grey parrot, “Go to bed!” to all of the dogs, and “Good bye, babies” to all.

Carly tells the lot to “Go outside!” (But what if they forget their house keys?)

Sam and Jenny head out the door with “See you cats later! Don’t fight, Osiris and Bastet!”

Irena tells Audra, “Bye bye, sweets” and “See ya, Cokes!” to Cocoa.

Sarah tells their dog Lizzie “We’ll be back. Be a good girl. Do your puppy job and guard the house.”

Kirsten has bilingual pets. She and Eddie leave with a jaunty “Soyez sages,” which is French for “please don’t pee or poop on the furniture or kill one another in my absence.” (An alternate translation is perhaps the less erudite “Be wise!”)

Kay tells Etta the cat that she is in charge while they’re gone. Jack the dog is told to not pee in his crate!

Becca leaves with, “Howard, you’re in charge.” She then goes on to say that since Howard is a cat, telling him that he is in charge redundant. But she says it anyways out of fear that if she fails to recognize his authority as head of household, a reign of terror will ensue. Excellent point, Becca. I’m also noting a trend of people recognizing that cats are generally in charge.

Sir Howard the Horrible, Defending His Kingdom --photo credit Becca Cody

Sir Howard the Horrible, Defending His Kingdom
–photo credit Becca Cody

My own mum tells Matti (my own Tiniest Beatrice’s sister) to not chew anything up. See, Matti has done a good job of making messes when mum is out of town. Matti’s worst crime was to shred
a report for AQHA that dad was supposed to mail. Fortunately, mum had the foresight to have a second copy. Matti is also guilty of taking chunks out of my very own hiking boots when I had
the audacity to leave her to go and take a shower. My brother would say that Matti has nervous teeth, and Bob 2.0 suffers the same syndrome.

Bob 2.0 Snuggles with Gepetto --photo credit Marilyn Randall

Bob 2.0 Snuggles with Gepetto
–photo credit Marilyn Randall

Jarron leaves with the sedate knell of “Be good, pups.”

My mother-in-law, Cheryl, told their beloved ZsaZsu “We love you, ZsaZsu, and we will be back. And don’t tear up any paper you find!”

Carol Henry always tells Maggie “I’ll be back,” not that Maggie knows what that means. All she knows is that if she sits on her bed and looks starved, she’ll get a treat.

Dmitriy says “Не балуйтесь,” which translates as “Be good.” Katheryne says “Momma loves you. We’ll be back.” (Again with the bilingual dogs!)

Bob tells his birds “Don’t get into the liquor cabinet.” (Kind of makes you wonder just what happens in that house when the door shuts behind him, doesn’t it.)

Sue tells Kit that “I’ll be back, don’t be afraid.” (Does anyone else here this in the voice of Linus as he recounts the Christmas story in the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special” or is it just me?)

Anne tells Julie to “Be a good girl, I will see you tonight.”

Lauren tells her slothful, lounging hound “Don’t soak up all the heat!” as she snoozes next to the wood-burning stove.

Rhonda exits with a jaunty, “See you later!” (I hope she doesn’t let her animals read this. They’ll figure out that other dogs and cats get treats and genuflections, and they’ll think they need to rethink their previous good behavior.)

Rich has had a morning routine with Kaia for so long that he didn’t even know it was routine. He had to slow down his morning ritual with Kaia, to remember that he says “Here you go sweetie….you’re such a gooooood dog” (as I give her a cookie and she curls up on her bed by the door) “Have a good day!”

Diane tells her two cats “Bye boys, be good, stay off the Internet!” (Bet this makes you wonder just what they were doing before that they are now told to stay off the Internet. It certainly does me. Were they playing online poker? Providing coding hacks? Writing to long-lost kitty loves?)

Laurie exits the house by saying “Greta, stay home. Yes, you’re my sweetie pup. Be back soon.”


And on that note, I’m signing off. After all, I did tell Eleanor and Beatrice that I loved them and that I would be home soon!