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Have you met our beagle, Phillip Marlowe? He was pound dog. So cute, right? Good thing because his sense of smell is bigger than his brain. Beagles are just that way. They’re like detectives, sniffing out the riff-raff and whatnot. Hence, my husband named him after Raymond Chandler’s most famous book character. If only my dog could entertain me with that kind of dialog. I’m pretty sure I owe Mr. Chandler an apology for degrading the art of the character by naming my dog after him. The thing about Marlowe the dog is that he has no desire to be the alpha, which pleases my husband, Josh. But sometimes he can’t help his sense of smell and bolts from the door, running through town and into Main Street traffic causing minor fender benders. Sorry, whoever you were; you’ll never know how thankful my family is that you sacrificed your bumper for our pet.

Other than that though, he’s entirely submissive. You just have to get out your Josh voice. Basically you speak in the lowest slowest tone you can. Scowling helps. Look down on the dog and say, “Maaaaaaar-lowwwwwwwwe.” He’ll go right to bed.

Here’s a fun story. Before we moved the couch away from the front window, the family (sans Marlowe) would leave for an adventure and Marlowe would jump up on to the couch and watch us go. We could see him as we pulled out of the driveway and he would stare at us in the street, with that look, “What? Am I being bad? I dare you to come back in and use the Josh voice.” We later put the vacuum up there to thwart him. Didn’t work. Josh was burying his anger deeper and deeper until one day we were pulling away from the house and the dog’s stare-face when Josh stopped in the street, stared back and got out his cell phone.

I asked him, “Um, what are you doing?”

“Calling the house.”

“Our house?”

He nodded and waited for the answering machine to pick up. He scowled and said, “Maaaaaaar-lowwwwwwwwe. Get off the couch.”

Marlowe obeyed. What a good dog!

Well, the other day, I heard in the distance the girls using what sounded exactly like the Josh voice. They were, in turn, saying things in those long, slow scowly tones like “Butterfllllllllllllllies and rossssssses.” Then I heard laughing followed by, “Raaaaaaaaainbows!” And, “Peeeeeeeanutbutter cuuuuuups.” A little later, “Lolllllllllllipops!” And finally, “Baaaaaaaaaaby animaaaaaaaaaaaaals.”

I went downstairs. “What are you girls doing?”

Eleanor said, “It’s so funny!  It doesn’t matter what you say, if you use the Josh voice, Marlowe just goes to bed no matter what!”