Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The dog snubbed me

I've already mentioned before that I don't mind when the dogs jump up on the bed with me in the mornings, as long as they don't have wet feet. But I didn't mention that I don't like them to jump up on my bed and scratch.

A lot of people would draw the line at having two dogs on the bed, even if the two dogs were made of cement. A lot of people don't even want dogs in the house. We're really crazy about our dogs, though. Especially me. I want them in the house and sitting by me on the couch and I want to worry about their health and whether they're eating nutritionally balanced food. I want to talk to them in a silly-billy little voice, saying things like, "Now who is Mommy's handsome widdle man?! Is it hims?! Is it widdle hims?! This silky, sweet, baby boy?!" and pretend like they're talking back to me and if that bothers you, you'd better stop reading right now because it's only going to get worse from here.

We have two dogs. One is a fierce little Jack Russell terrier, a little old lady who will be seventy years old this summer. She is very smart. She has a very unpleasant personality and could make a drill sergeant at Paris Island wet his pants. Unfortunately, she is also very, very cute - a lovable-looking little furry thing with round brown eyes like boot buttons and a precious wee little black patent leather nose. Because she perceives herself as a soldier, her fur is always disheveled. She looks like a floor mop, and not the tidy Swiffer kind.

Her name is Wimzie and her sole concession to femininity is that she really adores wearing her pink fleece winter jacket. She's nice to all children, likes women and loathes all men, except for my husband, who is her personal ideal of humanity. She once bit a plumber's assistant because he came into her back yard without filling out a request form in triplicate and submitting it to her at least two weeks prior to planned invasion of her personal territory. I tried to explain to her that I hadn't known that a washcloth was going to get flushed down the toilet two weeks ago, but she merely threw me a look of contempt. I could feel her saying, "You are an incompetent hussy and kindly do not bore me with excuses."

Fortunately, the plumber's assistant was a dog lover and admitted that he hadn't taken me seriously when I indicated the twelve pounds of dog snarling in my arms and said, "Please let me get this dog into the house before you come into the yard. She would really love to bite a man."

Our other dog is a black beagle/Sheltie mix (my friend Cato referred to him as a "Beltie") named Hershey. We got him because my husband thought it might be nice to have some other male creature on his side, but as it turned out, Hershey is all girl. He is sleek, shiny and black and the most hideously ugly dog the world has ever known. His body is the stout, sturdy body of a beagle, set on long, slender Sheltie legs. He also has a very small head on his boxy body, embellished with beady little eyes and a great big bulbous nose. Hershey's ears are enormous and operate like satellite dishes, turning this way and that to pick up sounds. From the size of those things, I think he may be able to hear people sneezing in France. His brain, however, is the size of a proton. It took him five months to learn his name. But it only took him five seconds to chew a huge hole in a beautiful periwinkle blue sweater I used to wear.

When they're out on their thrice-daily walks around the neighborhood, Wimzie leads the way, plowing intrepidly through puddles broad and deep in the spirit of Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark. Hershey side-steps all puddles, not wishing to get his four white boots wet. He has the spirit of Coco Chanel and maybe Marie Antoinette, although he would like to eat both bread and cake. Wimzie lunges at cats, squirrels and the occasional passerby who is foolish enough to ignore our warnings to Not. Pet. That. Dog. She stole the glove right off someone's hand last winter and then vigorously "killed" it by shaking it back and forth in her teeth.

The owner of the glove looked from my husband to his own bare fingers and back again with wide eyes and said, "Duuuuude....she tried to bite me!"

My husband said, "Yes. That's why I told you not to pet her." And very nicely did not add "you dipwad" to the end of his sentence.

I don't know where Hershey was during this whole exchange. Probably lying on his back with his four paws in the air, ingratiatingly offering the Dog Petter a business card with our address and the location of our spare key on it so that the Petter could come by and steal our television and my wedding silver in retaliation for our having a dog who thinks she is a glove-killing demi-god.

Wimzie killed a toad last summer. She snatched it right up off the sidewalk in mid-hop and sank her teeth into it. Hershey tries to climb me like a tree if a little girl rides by him on a pink bicycle.

Having related all this back story to you, I'm sure you can surmise what Wimzie's reaction was yesterday when she jumped up on my bed yesterday morning, gave me a kiss, and then sat down right beside my weary head to scratch. And scratch. And scratch, scratch, scratch.

"Wimzie," I said sleepily. "Stop." I prodded her with one hand and she ignored me.


"Wimzie, stoppit!" I said more loudly. This time I opened my eyes and looked at her. She turned her back on me and kept scratching.

"Okay, Wimzie. Jump down. Right now," I said sternly.

Without looking at me, she jumped heavily to the floor and stalked out, offended. I went back to sleep.

A few minutes later, my husband came in from taking his shower. "What's wrong with Wimzie?" he asked. "She was under my feet the whole time I was shaving."

"Oh, she's mad at me because I made her get off the bed. She wouldn't quit scratching. And I can't stand the thought of dirt and hair and dog dander getting onto our sheets."

"What about little flecks of dog poop?" my husband asked helpfully. "I thought I tasted something really funny one night and it turned out that she'd been sleeping on my pillow earlier in the day because you didn't make the bed."

"Okay, and flecks of dog poop. And sometimes I can't make the bed because you're still in it when I get up."

I got up a few minutes later and saw that Wimzie had snuck back into the room and crawled under the bed. Under the impression that if she can't see, she can't be seen, her entire rear half was sticking out from under the bed skirt.

"Look," I said to my husband, pointing. "Isn't that cute? I bet she's under there pouting, waiting to make up with me. It makes her sad when I scold her."

"Is that what you think?" said my husband. "Call her and see what happens."

Let me just say that I have always believed that hooey that the writers of books about dogs try to con the rest of us with, and that is that dogs want to please their people. They love pleasing their people. That's what makes dogs happy.

I've reluctantly noticed through the years I've spent with her that Wimzie is interested in pleasing no one but herself, but I persist in thinking that she cares. So I called her, with a cooing tone to my voice. "Wimzie! Wimzie, baby girl! Come out and see Mama!"

Wimzie stuck her head out from beneath the bed skirt and gave me a long, cool, appraising look. She glanced at my husband as if to say "Can you believe she really thought I'd....?" and then deliberately scooted herself the rest of the way under the bed and wouldn't even come out for cheese.

Snubbed. I was snubbed by a twelve pound dog.

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