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Freckles is a Border Collie Australian Shepherd cross, though I doubt she’d ever admit to anything but the purest blood. A portly dowager, she’s prone to overeat when the opportunity presents itself, and with those of her kind she often plays the role of a tyrant. Certainly, I can forgive her for those failings, though the commonality of them does little to enhance our level of understanding. We’ve tolerated each other through a rocky relationship. Our sole meeting ground is the vital interest we have in the same woman. But to her dying day Freckles will resent the fact that I get to live in the house. She doesn’t. Numerous times she has pleaded her case to the lady of the manor. Her suit hasn’t been in vain. Recently, she’s made enough headway that she now eats her supper inside on the entryway rug while the other cow dogs are chained to their humble shanties out in the snow. And when it’s bitterly cold, she spends an unreasonable amount of the day inside. As I pass her comfortable spot she lifts her head and taunts me with her success. The lady of the house assures me it is an absolute necessity for Freckles to eat inside. If she is forced to dine outside, she quickly disposes of her own meager weight-watcher diet, then bullies the other dogs out of whatever they have left. Besides, I’m informed there are only two dog houses and three dogs, so of course this is the only reasonable solution. I roll my eyes and grumble that I’d tie her in the barn. It does no good. Freckles pointedly ignores my carping. She knows the woman will win. When Freckles is done gobbling her rations she lies quietly in a corner of the entry, plotting to attach herself permanently to the rug. She dreams of the day when the woman will realize she belongs here, and that the man—well, maybe he’ll just leave. Invariably, it is I who get out of my chair to retire first. I clump out to the entry to discover her liquid brown eyes upturned with a mixture of pleading and contempt. I’m used to it, and we speak to each other in monosyllabic sentences. Me: “Get out.” Freckles gives me a withering stare: “I would have left before now if you’d have opened the door.” I point outside where it’s cold and dark. She casts a resentful eye in my direction and sidles outside. Her last look before she disappears needs no translation. “I’m going, but you’re not my boss.” The door slams behind her. Once more, I’ve bullied her into the cold, but she always leaves me with the distinct impression I’ve lost the argument.

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