The Secret Life of (Pet Camp) Pets

A movie was just recently released that presents a fun take on the types of things that pets do when their humans aren’t looking. It’s called “The Secret Life of Pets,” and it’s playing at various theatres around the Bay Area. Several of our doggie day care counselors were lucky enough to get tickets to an advance screening a few weeks back, and the film got rave reviews from them! Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it, and will have to shell out my own money to pay for a seat in a theatre (in reality, I’ll probably stream it on Amazon, being the hermit that I am). The whole premise got me thinking, though: just what do these crazy critters do when we’re not around? How do they act? If they could talk, what would they say? Because I have nothing better to do (don’t tell Mark! He thinks I’m hard at work!), I’ve thought up my own imaginary take on the secret lives of 4 Pet Camp dogs: ChoCho (Janice’s dog), Splash (and her siblings, Dusty and Oscar), Boognish (Nate’s dog), and Fitz (April’s dog).

ChoCho is, quite literally, a party animal, and throws raging house parties while Janice and the rest of the family are gone for the day! Loud music, kegs, beer pong (dog beer, of course!), pizza boxes everywhere… the works! Her shindigs come complete with dogs having chugging contests, Janice’s knick-knacks, picture frames, vases, etc. getting knocked around, toilet paper strewn like streamers from the trees outside her house, and neighbors complaining and threatening to call the cops. Neighborhood cats IMG_8586 always end up crashing the party and playing pranks on the attendees, and eventually get “bounced” by some of ChoCho’s bigger friends. These wild blowouts are a weekly occurrence, and things play out the same way each time: everything is great, ChoCho and her buddies are having a blast, until she realizes, “Oh, crap! It’s almost 8! Janice and the family will be home any minute now!” ChoCho cuts the music off and announces to everyone that the party’s over, everyone out!! As dogs stumble out of the place, ChoCho rushes around frantically, trying her best to clean up as if nothing happened: sweeping chip crumbs and pizza crusts under the area rugs, shoving beer bottles and empty pizza boxes into closets, straightening picture frames on the walls, and super gluing broken vases and knick-knacks back together. Just as she’s kicking the last drunken dog out the back door, Janice and her family walk through the front, calling out, “We’re home, Choey!” ChoCho appears from the kitchen and sits in front of them, looking like an innocent little angel, and surreptitiously kicking an errant chip crumb out of sight with her back paw.

Seemingly mild-mannered and gentle on the outside, Splash is secretly the kingpin of a world-wide underground crime syndicate involved with illegal trafficking of black-market dog biscuits. When Mark and Virginia are at work and the kids are all at hockey practice/theatre practice/friends’ houses, Splash runs her tight-lipped operation out of the garage, making deals, managing complex smuggling logistics, and ordering hits on the snitches (probably labs) that are inevitably sniffed out by her loyal henchmen (probably shepherds). She is joined by her 2 highest-ranking “made-men” (or dogs, as Splash, Oscar & Dusty the case may be) Oscar and Dusty. As her trusted accountant, Oscar keeps a close watch on the books and ensures that every dog in the “business” collects their quota of cookies every week, and nobody is skimming off the top. Dusty, known throughout the SF underground dog day care scene as a bit of a “loose cannon,” is the muscle of the whole operation, and makes sure that those dogs working for Splash keep their “muzzles” clean (especially pugs and bulldogs; their muzzles ALWAYS need cleaning), and those who don’t, well, they end up like every tennis ball Dusty ever gets his hands on: TORN TO SHREDS!

Boognish is a cultured sort of gent who likes his world and everything in it neat and orderly (think Felix Unger, but in dog form). He has an appreciation for the finer things in (dog) life, and although he loves his human Nate dearly, he cannot stand Nate’s low-brow jokes and “questionable” friends and cohorts. Because he knows that he is, indeed, the “other half” of Nate’s heart (conversely, to be honest, Nate is the other half of his, too) he accepts his role as faithful companion and knows that being a good friend sometimes means being tolerant of distasteful behavior.

Boognish knows how to cope with this balancing act, though. When Nate leaves for a night of carousing on the town, Boognish hosts City Arts and Lectures-type gatherings in Nate’s bedroom. There, some of the most erudite and forward-thinking dogs of the City gather to discuss literature Boognish (Old Yeller: a true America classic, or merely pedantic drivel? Discuss!), fine art (Dogs Playing Poker: a celebratory masterpiece, or thinly-veiled insult? Discuss!), and current events (the raw food craze: how did THAT happen, and how do you get your human aboard the bandwagon? Discuss!). A night of vigorous debate and discourse is always sure to cleanse Boognish’s intellectual palate, and helps him be ready to face whatever tales of debauchery Nate will no doubt bring home. Ah well, says Boognish, quoting Sigmund Freud, “The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it gains a hearing.” To which Nate replies, in the most Nate-est of Nate ways, “whatever, piglet.”

Fitz is definitely a self-help “junkie.” Despite his size (and his size-to-be), he feels apprehensive of the world around him, and just can’t be sure if he is, in fact, a “good boy.” When his primary support system April is out running errands, Fitz pores over the many self-help books that he orders on the sly using April’s Amazon account. Books with titles like, Go Say Hi! Overcome Your Fear and Just Greet That Stranger, Already! and The Bigger the Breed, The Bigger the Need: How to Take Back Your Power and Ask Your Human For Help give Fitz the extra boost of self-esteem he needs to face the IMG_3196-2 day.

Sometimes, if the lines at the Alameda Target are extra-long, Fitz has time to host a support group for other large-breed dogs who also suffer from “way-too-gentle giant” syndrome. Known throughout the East Bay as a host who knows how to lay out a really nice spread, Fitz’s group attracts the Island’s biggest mastiffs, wolfhounds, great Danes, and other dogs who not only would never hurt a fly, but affirmatively run from them. Sometimes in the dead of night, while April is fast asleep, and ONLY if you’re quiet, you can catch Fitz staring confidently into the bathroom mirror repeating his most effective mantra, “You’re big enough, you’re strong enough, and doggone it, people fear you!”

So what about your pets? What sort of antics do you think they get up to when you’re gone for the day? If you have some spare time at work (or if, like me, you’re just goofing off) and want to share your ideas of their “secret lives,” let us know; we’d love to read ‘em!

Thanks for indulging me!
Michelle @ Pet Camp