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Published on: Nov. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

the tension slackens and they forget the hoorah and wind up sleeping with each other. It never quite comes to physical combat. They're like diplomats rattling sabers at a public forum, all bombast and posture.

Any United Nations delegate would recognize them instantly.

In a way it's nice to be the object of their affection. Everyone wants to be wanted. But it's no fun standing in the middle of a duel, even if it's a duel over me. I try to explain that they are co-equal in my affections; that I do not favor one over the other - but they're like brothers anywhere: "Dad always liked you better than he liked me!"

When we sleep together, which happens on the road, Chubby and Dacques vie for a spot next to me. Chubby is convinced he is my face dog, destined to lie close to my cheek where I can feel his soft night breath on my ear and the curl of his neck on my cheek.

Dacques would like to be a face dog, but has resigned himself to being a lower body dog. He presses close to my leg (it's like lying next to a statue fallen over on its side).

I will be scorned by those who consign their dogs to a cold kennel, usually with another stinking dog in wet straw, but that's me. I've spent many a night in a recreational vehicle with a radio softly playing vintage Mozart and a couple of brothers drowsing in the warmth.

I read a good book for a while and let the music and the warmth loosen the tight muscles of six hours in the boonies, and then the boys and I head for bed. Say what you will, it's comforting to have a warm body next to you in the small hours.

Sibling rivalry is a ferocious thing. My two oldest sons, J.B. and Eddie have had some horrific fights. Eddie once hit J.B. in the nose, which started to bleed copiously. I tried to stay out of the way. Sibling rivalry is nothing to get in the middle of. Remember Cain and Abel?

But Eddie was best man at J.B.'s wedding a few years later. Underneath the jealous anger is a love that transcends the vengeful peaks and valleys. Perhaps Dacques and Chubby have an emotion for each other that they don't or can't recognize, like

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