Erick's ex-boyfriend Mitch
Mitch's boyfriend Cole (who is also Erick's friend Elyke's brother)
Scudder the dog
Bixby the dog
Erick’s ex-boyfriend Mitch had booked a supporting role on a well-financed independent film that was shooting on location in Nebraska for a week. Coincidentally, his boyfriend Cole was hired to provide the catering for the same film. When their regular dog sitter proved unavailable, they asked Erick to stay at their house for the week and sit with their two rescue mutts Scudder and Bixby. Despite his aversion to dogs, Erick agreed and went to their house a few days later for a how-to session.
“Why would you two ask ME of all people to watch your dogs?” he asks as Cole shows him how to administer a topical medication above Scudder’s eyes.
Mitch leans against a nearby wall holding a bottle of pills. “Because you’re our friend and we trust you,” he answers.
Erick looks down at Bixby. “But I don’t like dogs.”
“But you like our dogs, don’t you?” Cole asks as he pats Scudder on the abdomen for being so cooperative.
Erick points to a far off corner. “I like them…over there away from me.”
“Maybe so, but would you ever want to see our dogs or any other dogs for that matter come to any harm?” Mitch inquires as he opens the bottle of pills and hands them to Cole.
“Of course not.”
Cole opens up Scudder’s mouth, places a pill on the far end of his tongue and holds his mouth closed. “Well, there you go. That’s why we asked you.”
Erick observes this with a mix of fear and disgust over the thought of having to put his hand in a dog’s mouth. “Alright, but I hope they’re not expecting much affection from me because they’re going to be very disappointed.”
“You say that now, but I guarantee after the first day you’ll want to be sitting in that corner with them,” Cole responds as he hugs Scudder and pats him on the abdomen again.
Two days later, Erick unlocks the door to Mitch and Cole’s house. Scudder and Bixby rush to the door as he walks in.
“Back! Back!” Erick hisses at them as he makes his way through the foyer.
Bixby starts barking at him. “You just saw me two days ago, what are you barking at?” Erick remarks as he walks through the kitchen into the living room. Bixby runs in front of him and continues barking, backing away with each step forward Erick takes. Erick rolls his eyes, places his messenger bag on the coffee table and tosses a duffle bag onto the couch.
Bixby runs through the doggy door to the backyard. Erick walks over to the sliding patio door and looks out. Bixby continues barking at him from the other side of the glass. Erick shakes his head.
Scudder walks up to him, looks up and wags his tail. Erick looks down at him. “Dinner’s not for another few hours. Go sit down somewhere,” he grumbles. Scudder shrugs, turns around and lies down on a nearby cushion.
Bixby stops barking and looks up at Erick from the other side of the glass. Erick looks down and notices the look of defiance on Bixby’s face, who is clearly refusing to come back in and share space with Erick. “We’ll see how long your ‘Occupy the Backyard’ movement lasts when I call you for dinner,” Erick says to Bixby.
Erick turns around and walks over to the couch to set up his office space for the week. He looks over at Scudder, who stares back at him with sad eyes. “Don’t be eyeballin’ me like that. I’m technically working from home this week so you and your little brother out there need to behave and not disturb me.”
A couple hours later, Erick gets up from his makeshift workspace and walks toward the feeding room. “Time to eat!” he calls out.
Scudder gets up from his cushion and scurries behind Erick. Bixby, who had spent three hours sitting militantly outside, brokers an internal peace treaty with Erick and scampers through the doggy door for dinner. “I thought so,” Erick says to himself.
Erick grabs a small liquid bottle from a shelf and calls Scudder over to him. He covers Scudder’s eyes and sprays a topical medication above each one. Scudder squirms at first but Erick runs his hands along his back and he calms down.
Not wanting to be left out, Bixby walks over to Erick and stands on his hind legs. “I can stand on two legs too,” he chides Bixby. “If you really want to impress me, learn to use the toilet.”
Erick places the liquid bottle back on the shelf and grabs the bottle of pills. “Now for the fun part,” he laments as he twists it open.
Erick calls Scudder over to him again. He gently grabs the hinge of Scudder's jaw to open his mouth as Cole had shown him, but Scudder clamps his mouth shut. Erick tries again to no avail. He looks down on Scudder disapprovingly, grabs him by the front of the mouth and tries to pry it open. Afraid that Scudder will go rogue and bite the hand that’s going to be feeding him, Erick instead presses the pill against Scudder’s mouth. Scudder opens his mouth and sticks his tongue out. Erick places the pill on Scudder’s tongue and he ingests it. “Great. Now for the second one.”
Administering the second pill was much easier and Erick proceeds to scoop their dinner out of a large plastic container and into two small metal bowls. He places them down on the floor and Scudder gets right down to eating.
Erick picks up their water dishes, pours out the standing water, refills them with fresh water and places them down on the floor. He notices Bixby staring at him. “Oh that’s right. You don’t like to eat in front of people,” he recalls as he walks out of the feeding room, closes the door and goes back into the living room.
Two hours later, Erick is sitting on the couch watching television when he suddenly wonders where the dogs are. He gets up and looks outside, where he is reminded that they are still sequestered in the feeding room. He rushes to the feeding room and opens the door. Scudder and Bixby run out through the kitchen, through the living room and through the doggy door to the backyard. Erick follows. He opens the sliding door and pokes his head out. “I’m sorry guys. I don’t have the cable at home and really got into this Boy Meets World mini-marathon,” he explains. Bixby takes a break from sniffing around for a place to relieve himself long enough to look up and give Erick a quick glare. Erick steps back and closes the sliding door.
Scudder and Bixby are cuddled together on their cushion when Erick starts to get tired around eleven o’clock. Erick gets up and walks toward what was the feeding room but is now the sleeping room. “Alright, boys. It’s time for bed,” he calls out. Bixby gets up and follows slowly behind Erick but Scudder does not move from the cushion.
“Stay there,” Erick tells Bixby as he walks back into the living room. Bixby follows anyway.
“Get up,” Erick says to Scudder, who looks up at him for a moment and then puts his head back down.
“Now,” he commands Scudder, who doesn’t even raise his head this time. Erick takes the cushion and starts to pull it from under Scudder, but he still doesn’t move. Erick drags the cushion across the living room floor to the small step separating it from the kitchen. He pulls the cushion up and uses it to roll Scudder onto the higher level. Scudder lands on his legs and begrudgingly walks through the kitchen and the foyer into the sleeping area, where he situates himself on his sleeping cushion.
Erick turns around and takes notice of Bixby behind him. “Don’t think I didn’t see you following me earlier when I told you not to move,” he informs Bixby. “Now get inside,” he barks while pointing into the sleeping room.
Bixby sits and stares at Erick. He tries to walk behind Bixby in order to usher him into the sleeping room, but Bixby just backs away. Erick then walks into the sleeping room and calls Bixby into it. Bixby tilts his head. Erick isn’t sure if he is confused or just being stubborn so he motions for Bixby to come forward and accompanies it with a barrage of “come here’s”.
Bixby slowly walks into the sleeping room. Erick rushes out, turns out the light, says goodnight and closes the door.
The next morning, Mitch calls Erick to find out how the first night went.
“How were my boys last night?” Mitch asks.
“They were fine. Is Scudder always so stubborn when it comes to going to bed?”
“Yep. He hates it. I usually have to pick him up and carry him into the sleeping room.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t going to do that. When I arrived, Bixby barked at me for ten minutes, ran outside and refused to come in for three hours until dinner.”
Mitch laughs. “Dumb dog. Are you in love with them yet?”
“They’ll be fed tomorrow, but that’s about it.”
“I know what this is. You don’t feel worthy of the unconditional love my dogs have to offer you.”
“You’re right. If I ever do this for you again, please train them to just completely disregard me.”