We’ve all heard the phrase “yellow bellied coward” and quite obviously, it is a phrase that is meant as an insult. However, did you know it can also be used as a term of endearment? You see, I have my very own yellow bellied coward, and I’m quite fond of her.
Her name is Shelley, she’s a yellow Labrador. More precisely, she is a 70 pound cuddly, lap dog.
Now, when somebody says “Labrador”, usually one conjures up visions of some energetic overgrown puppy who loves to dash and play and get muddy and wet, right? Well, not my Shelley dog.
Shelley loathes getting her paws wet, and she simply does not understand why she must go outside to do her business while the cats are provided luxurious indoor accommodations for their business. After all, her primary purpose in life is to be the recipient of our affections. Being forced to come in contact with wet surfaces is just beneath her.
Shelley just does not act like a typical Labrador. But that’s totally fine, because she is our lap dog, and we don’t like to go out in the rain either, so all in all, we are a well made match.
Shelley embodies the phrase “yellow bellied coward” to the hilt. In fact, I’ve begun to wonder if one of her ancestors wasn’t the impetus for the creation of the phrase “yellow bellied coward.”
Nowhere does Shelley display this particular trait more than in her interactions with our cats.
In one corner, we have Shelley – who weighs in at, as I’ve already mentioned, approximately 70 pounds, depending on how much human food she has recently manipulated from my husband.
In the other corner, we have 2 cats with a total combined weight of under 20 pounds.
And Shelley is completely at their mercy.
Shelley has a delightfully cozy crate where she sleeps at night, and at any other time she desires. Her crate is her safety zone. It is where she goes to be safe. And the cats know it. It has become their favorite way to show their domination.
Cats, being cats, were naturally curious, and decided to check out the big, overgrown, yellow coward’s favorite nap spot. When they did, they discovered it was quite cozy indeed. So, invariably, at night time, Shelley cowers in front of her crate and waits for mommy or daddy to shoo one of the cats out of her crate so that she can go in. She won’t go in when there is a cat in there, she won’t even move a paw in that direction. Nothing in the universe could convince her to give it a shot, to try just once to assert her rightful place in the crate.
It isn’t just the cats that intimidate Shelley, it’s all sorts of things. Like when I strip the linen off the bed, the bed suddenly becomes a scary place, and the yellow dog, who normally spends a great deal of her daytime snoozing on the bed, finds herself struggling to overcome a sudden fear of the scary bed, and desperately wondering where she might rest her weary head.
But I’m not going to write about all the ways Shelley is a yellow bellied coward.
What I find so very intriguing is that for every minute of the day, the cats rule without question. If they block her path, she won’t proceed. If they curl on our lap, she won’t join us on the sofa. She is most definitely number three in the pecking order.
Except for at meal time. Something strange happens to my furry yellow bellied coward at meal time. She turns into a vulture. A very pushy vulture.
Suddenly, if she isn’t watched, she discovers within herself a great courage. Unsuspecting (though one could not say innocent!) cats, trying to eat their meals, would find themselves being scooted out of the way by a cold doggy nose if mommy and daddy were not home to ward off the yellow vulture.
It started insidiously, and for several meals the cats were quite short changed their full allotment of food. For we never suspected that our yellow bellied coward would ever do such a thing to the cats.
However, we started to notice that the cats came into the living room very shortly after having been served dinner. And then the cats started acting hungry far sooner than usual.
It turns out, our yellow bellied coward is very smart. She doesn’t nudge the cats out of the way immediately, that would have been too obvious. She lets them get settled, then she slowly, very, very slowly, creeps closer and closer to them. Since the cat dishes are near our computers, it simply appears to the untrained eye as though our lovable yellow Labrador is creeping in to spend some quality time with mommy and daddy.
But no, she is sneaking in to nudge the cats away and finish their dinner for them.
We finally caught on, and now we guard the cats and allow them their full meal. Shelley continues to try to sneak in and chivvy them away.
And, sometimes, we get pulled away by a phone call or something else, only to realize our mistake too late.
But as soon as dinner is over, the vulture disappears and the yellow bellied coward returns. The cats again rule. The dog again is too afraid to, literally, cross their path.
But we love our yellow bellied coward, and when she curls up on the sofa with us, we find we quite enjoy rubbing that yellow fur on that yellow belly 🙂
Yellow bellied coward – sometimes it is a term of endearment!