April 2018

Thursday, April 8, 2010

DAR #26: Pets are People Too

DAR #26: Sister Jenn mentioned that among my traumas were the deaths of Pepper, Sparky and Tripper, our dogs.

Pepper was our first dog, and I thought of him as my dog. He was a Spidoodle, which means that somehow a Spitz and a Poodle cojoined. He was white and mostly black (therefore "Pepper"), about the height of a large poodle but more filled out. Like me, his bangs always hung in his eyes. That may be why he got hit by that car.

Our second dog, Sparky, was a golden cocker spaniel and struggled with many of the issues brought on by too much in-breeding. He was a cheerful dog with a tuft of white-blond hair at the top of his head. If, while he was napping in the sun, I was standing ten yards to his left and called his name, he would bounce eagerly up, run to the right, and stop suddenly as if to say, "Hey, where are you?" Sister Jenn and I loved to watch him howl, so sometimes we would sit in the kitchen and howl. He would wag his tail as if to say, "What's happening here? I want to join the fun," and then he would howl. I loved the way he held back his head and his whole body trembled. It was if he forgot he was a dog in the kitchen who peed on newspaper and returned to his wolf roots. Mom paper-trained the poor dog so throughly that when he was outside he would run to the kitchen door, scratch and whimper. When we opened the door, he would race in to try to hit the paper, often falling over his own feet. He pretty much never made it to the paper and would hang his head in shame.

Our third dog was another cocker spaniel, Tripper, so named because as a puppy he would hump our legs so much that we would trip. He was a smart dog. When we played touch football, he knew the rules, so when he ran out of bounds with the ball, he knew to drop it.. When he was older, I was doing my homework when Sister Jenn and Brother Matt ran into my room in something of a panic. "Tripper and Taffy (our neighbors cocker spaniel) are stuck and we can't get them separated! We've tried cheese (our cocker loved cheese and hotdogs), but they don't move." I went outside, laughed a superior older sister laugh, and told them to leave the dogs alone. That fall, Taffy had five very cute cocker spaniel puppies. More in-breeding.

As adults, both Sister Jenn and Brother Matt have adopted dogs. Brother Matt and his at-the-time wife-to-be, Kristin, adopted Stella before wedlock. Matt and Kristin were visiting us before they went to pick up Stella and they had a phenomenally intense discussion about whether one or both of them would pick her up. As the discussion went on, Ann observed, "They're defininitely getting married." Sadly, Stella died just after Christmas this year. Matt cooked her a steak on her last night. She had a good life.

Sister Jenn's dogs are a more comic pair. Their golden retriever, Ranger, is a beautiful dog about the size of a horse who is afraid of their doggie door. Ranger prefers to stand on his hind legs and open the latch like any other self-respecting member of the family. Rosie, their bear-sized Burmese Mountain Dog, is not so sophisticated. She's not opposed to the doggie door and is just glad for the chance to sleep in the warmer mudroom (even if Ranger does get to sleep in the living room.) This Christmas, when Ann and I visited, we felt for Rosie, so we tromped through the snow to a bench in the front yard so that I could sit and talk with her without fear of being knocked over. Ann and I sat on the bench and talked with Rosie at our feet. She got so excited that she jumped up on the bench herself and slid behind Ann, knocking Ann to the ground.

Ann used to have asthsma (have her tell you about how the Buyteko method cured her). Animals, and especially cats and horses, triggered her asthma, sending her to the front of the line in the emergency room, so we've never gotten animals. Neighborhood cats generally adopt us in the summer, so we often still get the fun of pets without litter boxes and vet fees. Our favorite is our neighbor's cat Hector, an orange tabby so named, I assume, because he loves to hunt. As a kitten, he would crouch in his hunting position for hours, watching the birds in the lot across the street. He looked a lot like the lions we watched hunting zebras when we were in the Serengeti years later. The problem was that while there are few muscle cars in the Serengeti, there are lots of teenage boys racing their muscle cars here and Hector would hunt from the middle of the street. While we worked in the yard, Ann spent most of her time retrieving Hector from the road and lecturing him about the dangers of city life. The next summer, Hector took to stalking the birds at our birdfeeder. The feeder hung from an eave, and Hector would sit in the window well beneath them, watching for hours. The birds knew they were safe, and so was Hector. A classic win-win.

Our NIMBYs (Nighbors in my back yard), have two beautiful dogs named Sadie and Violet and had three chickens, All the Single Ladies, until Big Chicken died recently. When the chickens were chicks, they slept nights in the recycling bin while Andrew, an architect, built them a luxury hotel. They spent days pecking about their yard and then in the late afternoon Sayre and their natural herding dog Violet would herd them into their hotel so that the raccoons wouldn't get them at night. Sayre had to fire Violet from this responsibility when Violet started drooling at the sight of the chickens. Lately, sadly, the chickens are not well. All three started molting, Big Chicken died, and the other two are now eating their own eggs. In an attempt at chicken music therapy, I have sent them Louis Jordan's album with "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and "Barnyard Dance" to cheer them up, but it's not looking good for these chickens.

Love to you and your loved ones (your pets). Mary

1 comment:

  1. How appropo that you write of dogs today! I'm observing a co-workers Burmese Mountain Dog puppy play with one of my co-worker's pugs. The pug runs around in a large circle around the desks, and the Burmese tries to keep up - hang on to your monitors and cables, people!


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