Monday, May 11, 2009

Sulky dog

Today I neglected to take Wimzie with me when I went to pick up the girls at the YMCA, so she climbed into the downstairs shower and sulked for over an hour until Aisling finally pried her out with the promise of a cookie.

Over her nearly twelve vivid years of life, Wimzie (a fifteen pound rough coat Jack Russell terrier, formed from equal parts of fur and grr) has developed some opinions that verge on the emphatic. One of those notions is that she must be taken out in the van for a ride at least once or twice a day; her favorite ride is four blocks away to the local Y, where we go to exercise. Or, to be completely truthful, my husband and the girls.

When the girls go upstairs to put on their work out clothes, Wimzie immediately goes into high alert. She jumps down from wherever she's been sleeping and begins to follow me around, getting underfoot and shooting me dirty looks if I accidentally step on her. When the girls come back downstairs laden with gym bags, Wimzie begins to prance around, fixing us with entreating looks.

"Do you want to go for a RIDE?" Aisling asks. Wimzie responds by leaping into the air in her figure-8 jump, not bad for someone who is nearly eighty-four years old. As we all move towards the back door, Wimzie darts between our legs like a BMW zooming in and out of traffic on the Autobahn and, as soon as the door is opened, down the back steps and out to the van, where heaven help us if we haven't opened the automatic sliding door. If the door isn't open, she runs around and around the van as if she's trying to pull the doors open by centrifugal force.

Once inside, she takes up her place on the front passenger seat, standing precariously with her paws on the window's edge, her head stuck out above the mirror. She attracts a lot of attention from pedestrians and others drivers, who look at her and smile and point and say, "Hey, poochie, are you havin' fun?" Wimzie does not deign to acknowledge their presence; she makes it clear that their friendly advances are about as welcome as a case of head lice.

When we get back home, she jumps from the floor of the van in a self-satisfied manner and goes back in to sleep or eat or torment Hershey, whichever activity is uppermost in her mind. Today, she was lolling on the windowsill of the open foyer window, so when I left the house to pick up the girls, I snuck out quietly, not feeling in the mood to deal with her jumping and running and prancing.

It was when we got back and I was going to give her a good brushing that I realized she was nowhere to be found.

"Does anybody know where Wimzie is?" I asked anxiously. "I hope she didn't get out when I went to pick the two of you up. Could she have slipped past me somehow?"

"Actually, I think she's in the shower," said Meelyn, indicating the partially-open door of the downstairs bath.

I peered in to look at her, pushing aside the shower curtain; sure enough, Wimzie was curled up in a moody ball, her back turned toward the curtain. She insolently refused to make eye contact when I called her name. It was quite clear that I -- the human being in this relationship -- was in the dog house.

"Little booger head," I muttered as I left the bathroom.

"You'd better not let her hear you calling her that," Aisling advised. "You know she won't come sit with you if you call names."

Well, okay then. But I can't help but wonder: inside her tiny mind, what is the dog calling me?

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