So Belle was starting to annoy me last night with her constant pestering for attention, so I grabbed her, took her down, turned her over on her back and pinned her to the floor. I was just roughhousing with her and she really enjoys this providing I don't get too rough. But Murphy got alarmed when he saw Belle getting beaten up and ran up to intercede. He tried to get in between us so I pushed him back, and when he saw that I wasn't letting her up he grabbed one of his favorite toys and came back with it, offering it to me. The message was clear: "You can have my toy if you let Belle go."
Aw, damn, that was cute. And it worked.
He's a smart dog, and he's learned to barter somewhere along the line, as this isn't the first time that he's offered me one of his toys when I've had something else that he's wanted more. (With anyone else, he just takes what he wants, as a couple of neighbors who have been at barbecues with him and lost burgers or hot dogs to him can attest.) His loyalty to and concern for Belle was touching, and kind of funny too, because when the situation is reversed and I'm wrestling with him, Belle usually jumps in on MY side and starts biting at his legs.
What a pair of characters.