I get up between 4:30 and 5 AM every weekday during the school year, and officially the reason is because I like to write during that time, but just as important, it’s because I like to feel superior to everyone else for the rest of the day.

“Oh, you got up at 6:00 today?” I’ll say with a self-important flare of my nostrils to anyone who makes the mistake of chatting with me about their morning.  “It must be nice to be able to sleep in. I get up by fiiiiiiiiiive.”

See—even now, that part isn’t even important to the story I’m about to tell. Not important at all. But I take any chance I can to mention that I get up at 4:45 each morning because I like people to know that I’m better than they are.

So yesterday morning, around 5 AM or so, I was at my computer at the kitchen table, hard at work at yet another of my unpublished novels.  (My nephew asked me one time, “Aunt Lisa, why do you keep writing novels that never get published?” Instead of answering, I threw all of his crap into a duffel bag and told his mom he was coming home early.)

Suddenly, I smelled something.  Something terrible.  Like baby diarrhea—or even worse, adult diarrhea.

My husband (he woke up at 5:05 that morning, which earned him a holier-than-thou pursed lip look from me) shuffled by, on his way to make his morning coffee, so I said, “Did you fart?”

He huffed like it was the most offensive question I had ever asked him in his life, like I’d never actually witnessed him pause in the middle of a room, body contorted slightly for a better angle, and fart loudly in an attempt to impress everyone unfortunate enough to be there.  “NO,” he snapped.

Turns out our dog had pooped on the floor for the first time in like two years. 

When we figured it out, my husband wasn’t angry like I thought he might be.  Instead, he hugged our little mini-dachshund and asked him if his stomach was upset.

A little back story: When my two sons and I decided we wanted a dog a few years ago, my husband was not on board. “Over my dead body!” he insisted.

The boys and I collectively rolled our eyes, and we were right.  Because as reluctant as my husband was, we convinced him, and two weeks later we had a dog.  We named him Noodles because it’s my favorite food but I’m always on a low-carb diet. I figured if I can’t eat buttery, salty noodles, I might as well have a dog called Noodles so that my mouth can start watering like Pavlov’s dog every time I look at him or say his name, right?  

No more than 12 hours after we picked him up, a match made in heaven had already been born:

My husband and the dog are besties. 

So much so, in fact, that I’ve caught my husband throwing dirty looks in my direction when the dog and I are cuddling on the couch—only to realize that he’s actually giving the dog dirty looks:  How dare you choose her over me this morning?

And now, three years later and the bromance still thriving, my husband thinks that the only appropriate gift to give anyone (ME) is something with a brown mini-dachshund that looks like ours printed on it.  In the past six months alone, I’ve gotten a coffee mug and a personalized t-shirt that said something on it like, “Happy Mother’s Day to the best *WOOF WOOF* dog mommy in the world. Love, Noodles.”

Mind you, it was a sweet present, I guess.  But I have two actual children, so I don’t really consider myself a dog mom first.  And besides, what’s my husband trying to do to me with that shirt?  Take me back to my childhood in a trailer with neighbors who doddered around their overgrown yards, stepping around goats and tire planters, wearing the same type of thing?

No thanks, babe.

I wear the shirt to places like bed and our back yard to read on the deck.

One time I had it on and my neighbors stopped by as they were walking their French bulldogs.  I saw them take in the shirt with small smiles on their faces.  “Do NOT make fun of me in this shirt,” I said.  “Jason got it for me so I feel like I have to wear it sometimes.”

But instead of making fun of me, the wife pulled me aside conspiratorially a few moments later when the husband was distracted by their yellow bulldog.  “I ordered him one of those—except with a Frenchie on it—for his birthday coming up.”

I mean, what is truly wrong with people?

Before my husband could go get me a yard sign that said A SPOILED MINI DACHSHUND LIVES HERE or SANTA, DON’T FORGET THE DOG TOYS or whatever, I sat him down.

“Listen,” I said.  “The dachshund gifts have to stop.”

He nodded solemnly. I didn’t have to say anymore.  We’ve been married 16 years; he understood. Just to make sure, I added one more thing: “I’d rather have no gift than another dachshund-themed gift.”

He knew what I was referring to.  A friend of ours had just gotten into a huge fight with her husband because although he didn’t forget her birthday, he didn’t get her a present.  Just…didn’t get her anything. No $5.00 grocery store flowers, no excuses, nothing. Just a shrug of the shoulders and an, “I’ll get around to it.”

She was furious. She felt unloved.  But after I received the dachshund coffee mug in the mail (my husband was out of town on my birthday but wanted to make sure I received something from him, which was nice), I texted her a picture and said, “It could be worse.  I’d rather have no gift than this gift.”

She agreed.  Adamantly.  “Now you have to make an extra trip to Goodwill when you’re already so busy,” she texted back.

I feel like this new insight really helped repair her relationship with her husband. Which means that not only am I really good at waking up early, but I’m also a really good marriage counselor.

And humble, too.

*When I asked my husband for a picture of him and Noodles to post with this piece (that’s what I call my shorter work—“pieces”—because even when the “piece” is about dog poop, it makes me sound all professional), he scrolled through his phone for a few minutes and then said, “Well…I don’t have one of him and me, but I DO have one of him on the tractor…”

How could I have asked for a better response than that? 

**I’m happy to report that my husband and I celebrated our anniversary last week, and he got me a necklace…with a small golden dachshund pendant hanging daintily on it.

Just kidding. It was just a pretty necklace.  No dachshund pendant.  I think he’s really growing.

***Now I kind of want a necklace with a small golden dachshund pendant hanging on it.


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