WORST IN SHOW

It all started with an email.

My friend and co-worker Katie sent me an email with the subject line: Dog Lovers Alert. The body of the email read: “My friend is the local president of Dogtopia, and they’re in search of some good-lookin’ pups for an upcoming photo/video shoot. I know I’ve seen pics of your pooch on social, so I thought of you when I saw this.”

When I clicked on the link, it said all I needed to do was send in a short video of my dog demonstrating any tricks.

I wrote in and said, “This is Angus. He doesn’t ‘do’ anything except look cute and cock his head when we talk to him.” Apparently, the bar was pretty low, because he was chosen as one of stars for the video shoot.

I was not prepared for what came next.

I received an eight-page document with call times, bathing and grooming instructions and what toys to bring to fight boredom — and that was just for me. Kidding. No seriously, these people meant business.

We got Angus while living in Oregon when he was six months old. We bought him from a woman who culled him from her litter of Scottish terriers to train him as a show dog. By month five, she said, “We could tell his lines were off.” I told her, “That’s okay, our lines are off too, so he’ll fit right in.”

Angus is really handsome, and he has soulful eyes and a great temperament. However, he’s a bit of a pistol when it comes to minding. He doesn’t like to be told what to do; he wants to decide when he will sit, stay or come.

A few days before the video shoot I was telling another co-worker Annie about it. Annie loves dogs more than any human being — ever. I’m not exaggerating. Trust me on this. If Annie came upon me lying in the road after being hit by a car while walking the dog, she would first take Angus to the side of the road, get him comfortable in the shade, make sure he had water, food, then cuddle with him for a full five minutes before checking my pulse.

So I asked her, “Would you like to come with me on Friday?” and she honest-to-God cried. I took that as a yes.

The video shoot was at someone’s private home in a tony neighborhood in North Phoenix made up of craftsman style homes. I got there a little early to let Angus walk his nerves off and he proceeded to pee on every single neighbor’s mailbox post within a quarter mile radius. We were fitting in quite nicely, I think.

Once Annie pulled up we headed in. There were cameras, lights, people and dogs all over. It was a bit overwhelming for me, let alone Angus, who gave me the side-eye as if to say, “So this is why I got brushed and bathed last night.”

One woman asked me, “Is that your dog? Is he a Scottie?”

“Oh yes,” I said. “That’s Angus. He has the sweetest temperament.”

At that moment, I heard Annie yell, “Eileen!” As I turned, I was horrified to see Angus squatting behind the couch pooping while making disturbingly strong eye contact with me.

As Annie and I were getting paper towels to clean up the mess, Angus proceeded to jump on the coffee table. This was going well.

A few minutes later, a pug came up to Angus to sniff him then proceeded to try to impregnate him, leading to a never-heard-before growl from Angus that elicited glares from everyone in the room. One woman’s face said it all: “Sweetest temperament my ass.”

When it was time to start shooting, they asked me to get Angus to sit and look at the camera. I nervously joked, “He really doesn’t follow commands very well, but I bet I could get him to sit on the coffee table.” The haggard videographer looked at me with dead eyes and sighed heavily. So I gave it a try.

“Sit Angus.” Angus stood.

“Angus, sit!” Maybe changing the word order will help. No dice.

I bent down and pushed his butt to the ground, but when I let go he popped it right back up.

Was it hot in here, or is it just me?

Thankfully, Annie came over with a treat in her hand and said, “Angus, sit!” and he plopped his poopy butt down immediately and looked at her expectantly. Little shit.

I gladly stepped out of the way and proceeded to provide Annie with all sorts of treats as she expertly led Angus through the paces for the entirety of the video shoot.

Finally, a full 1.5 hours later, we were free to go with a bag of treats as a thank you. As we waved bye to Annie, Angus jumped into the car and proceeded to put his entire head in my Circle K water cup, lapping up all the water, and then fell asleep in the passenger seat like a sloppy drunk.

When we got home I was craving a nap and newly awoken Angus stumbled in the house like a sailor on the high seas. My husband took a long look at us both and asked, “Well, how did the video shoot go?”

“Our lines are off.”

He smiled and nodded, knowingly.

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Eileen Gault Burmeister

Eileen Gault Burmeister

Storyteller, writer, editor, photographer, fascinated by words, forever reading the room.