When I was a kid, I got bit by two dogs. The first was a stranger’s beagle and the second, our own persnickety Irish Setter. After that, I became particularly shy with dogs and remained so for many years. A couple of boxers I met in the mid 90s started rehabing my relationship with the canine family and now, well I’ve got more dogs than I know what to do with. These days, I go out of my way to show children how not to startle dogs, how to hold out their hands for a sniff before petting, how to read wary body language and stay safe. So it is particularly embarrassing, this utterly stupid thing I did on Thursday night that landed me in the E/R and earned me eight stitches in my lip.
For the record, if you know that a dog is particularly protective over chewy treats because other dogs tend to sneak up and take them while said dog is sleeping, it would be best to NOT tuck a fresh treat in beside him after he’s already asleep and then lean in to kiss the top of his cute little head.
I don’t know which one of us was more horrified in that moment, just after.
I left the hospital with a stitched-up lip and an antibiotic that gave me full-on flu symptoms for four days. Fortunately, THAT bit is over, so it’s just me and my laced-up lip left to deal with. We didn’t cancel our Monterey trip on Friday and I’m so glad because it was good in spite of everything. The Mr. keeps trying to drag me out of the house and has been intermittently successful, but for the most part, I’m kinda keeping to myself until I don’t feel like Sally any more. As for the penitent pup, he’s curled up beside me just now and under house arrest at the behest of local law enforcement until Sunday night at which time he may get a walk but will NOT be kissed upon the head at bedtime.
Let sleeping dogs lie.
There’s a reason that’s a thing.
This is Pig. Actually, his full name is Ignatius Banjous Trimagnaton which is of course ridiculous and therefore rarely invoked. Mostly he’s introduced as Iggy B. but when we’re irritated with him which happens all too often, he is simply Pig.
He’s a surprisingly elegant Italian Greyhound, favoring his graceful mother rather than his squatty, surly father. Over the last nine years, he’s gone from spoiled first puppy to cranky old man. He’s the reason that visitors cringe when ringing our doorbell. He’s well known as the one who steals pizza (and the occasional falsie) and pees on anything within two-feet from the floor. What I mean to say is that he’s an ass, but he’s our ass and every once in a while he’s awfully freakin’ sweet.
I'd invite you over to lounge on the couch, but there's precious little room left once the deceptively small Italian Greyhounds stretch out. Seriously, the Border Collie/Brittany Spaniel takes up less space.
She follows me day and night; quietly, sidling, rarely making a point to make her presence known. She is always on watch, underfoot, at my side or hovering nearby. Despite her size, she is often so unobtrusive that I inadvertently kick her, stumble over her and occasionally drop things onto her head.
She is the dog I wished for as a child. A “real” dog with a big scruffy neck and soulful eyes. If I cough, she alerts. If I cry, she sounds the alarm. When I cuddle another animal or child, she tries to nuzzle in between us. A big sweet lug of a dog, so faithful it might break your heart.
Kathy says, “No dog will ever love you better than Chloe.”
She is probably right.
And yet, I have never fully embraced her, never honestly taken the proper pleasure in her attention and seeming adoration. Ashlie and Jay chose her, a Pound Puppy rescue who joined our family two days after our beagle bitch Fat Lola died. I've always thought that it was simply too soon for me to fall in love with another dog. When Bob came along a few months later, I was ready, but with Chloe, I was emotionally withholding.
There is a Hugh Prather quote that I can't quite remember the precise wording of, but it is something about being skeptical of people who are overly impressed by us. Maybe this is the case with Chloe and I. Perhaps if she did not wait so patiently for each little sign of kindness I would not dismiss her so easily. But day after day, my silent stalker trundles along beside me, flops to the floor at my feet with great sighs, waits patiently for a nuzzle, a scrap of food or a crisis that needs attending to. She is completely unaware that I do not deserve this devotion, and for that, finally, I adore her in return.
Enough already, with the dreams of wounded pets. Seriously. Last night it was Frank, the Cockatiel we hand-raised and loved dearly but finally had to part with when Porch Cat arrived. (Sent off to a local aviary, I like to think his retirement was a happy one.) But there he was in my dream last night, half-starved and with his beak chipped away because somehow we’d forgotten him, left him for dead in a closet or cage, some corner of the house where no one ever went.
And oh how happy he was to see me, flew right to my hand and nuzzled me with his head. All of his feathers had those tough little sheaths that new feathers have, and I immediately started to groom him, pulling off those sheaths and feeding him fresh spinach leaves. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how we’d forgotten about him.
Funny Frank, who used to perch on my shoulder in the kitchen, where I’d talk to him in my best Julia Childs’ voice about the dish we were cooking. Sweet Frank who would play with Jay, plucking pens from his pocket, then dropping them with gusto and waiting for Jay to retrieve and return them to the pocket so they could be stolen and tossed again.Darling Frank, who sidetracked Ash from her homework too often, the child insisting that school things would have to wait because she was “working with Frank”, which consisted of feeding him millet and stroking his crown and letting him hop from hand to shoulder to perch and back.
This morning, I immediately did the mental check, assuring myself finally that we had NOT forgotten or misplaced Frank in some dark corner, and then went about my morning. But honestly, I’ve had enough of the pet wounding and dismembering in my dreams and at this point, I’m beyond caring what it means. I just want it to stop.