Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy 8th Birthday, Beltie!

Hershey is a Beltie - part Sheltie, part beagle. His head is tiny and triangular, featuring beady little eyes that are usually brimming over with love for us, and a nose that can be most kindly described as "bulbous." His beagle body is square and stocky, perched perilously on long, skinny Sheltie legs. Hershey is an assortment of shapes, most of which do not fit together into a pleasing blend. He does have, however, a very attractive tail.

We got Hershey from my friend Julie, the owner of his mother, when Hershey was five weeks old. I didn't actually want him, but Julie looked at me with her big, brown eyes and said, "I don't want to give Candy's precious babies away to strangers. I can't do it! Please take a puppy. Please please please please please please...."

Julie gave every indictation of being willing to repeat that word until I fell prostrate to the floor, foaming at the mouth, or until kingdom come, whichever happened first. So to shut her up, I said we'd take a puppy. Five weeks was really too young to take him, but Candy, who didn't give a hoot in heck about her puppies' welfare, had shaken them all off her one morning and gone off to hunt for turtles in the river with the dog next door. If it had been up to her, they would have been set in a box on the side of the road where any old crackhead crazy-person meth cooker could have picked them up and taken them home to be a cherished family pet. Or lunch. Whatever.

"These things bore me to sobs," she indicated, and off to the river she went.

Did I mention that the dog next door was Hershey's father?

Anyway, Hershey was an awful puppy, the worst dog I have ever had. He drove Wimzie to distraction, drinking out of her water dish, even though he had his own, and flatly refusing to eat his own puppy chow softened in milk in favor of crunching up her food in his tiny little needle-sharp teeth. And speaking of teeth, he chewed everything he could lay them on. He once chewed up half of a vinyl floor we had installed in front of our sliding glass patio door and then when I yelled at him, he ran like a jackrabbit down the hallway to the girls' playroom and chewed the leg off a Barbie.

We called him the "little

Wait. I can't tell you what we called him because my mom reads here and if I type what we called him, she'll telephone me and say, "I didn't raise you to use language like that."

The day I told my husband I wanted to get rid of him -- in a piercing shriek you might have heard at your house, if you think back to somewhere in October 2002 -- was the day he jumped on me and tore a hole in my gorgeous new plum colored sweater that looked so nice with my white camisole top.

"I HATE THAT DOG!!!" I yelled. True to his nature, Hershey didn't look cowed or frightened or even mildly worried. He just peered up at me with his squinty little eyes, chewing vigorously on my favorite pen. "GIVE ME THAT!!!!"

He ran, of course. My husband chased him down the hallway and retrieved my pen; Hershey came back a few moments later carrying one of my Clarks of England sandals. He was still so little, the sandal was practically as big as he was, but he was undeterred: he intended to eat that sandal right in front of my livid face.


"Julie has two boys, Shelley. They don't have any Barbies at their house," my husband said. He did not want to get rid of Hershey, having formed a deep attachment to the little ba-....whoops!!! None of his shoes had been chewed or clothing ruined, however.

"That is totally beside the point," I said bitterly. "I hate this dog. He's ugly. He's stupid; he doesn't even know his name and he's three months old!"

"Oh, he does too know his name," my husband demurred.

"Does not," I contradicted. "Listen. Hershey! C'mere, boy!"

Hershey sat before us, sandal dangling from his tiny jaws, and looked around curiously to see where Hershey was.

"Hershey!" my husband called, squatting down and calling out with a musical lilt to his voice. "Come here, buddy!! Come on, little man!" And then finally, growing impatient, "COME HERE, YOU LITTLE...."

Hershey sat, gnawing cheerfully on my sandal strap. He perked his big ears up as if to say, "You are sure nice folks, but I don't know who the heck you're talking to."

My husband stood up and put his hands in his pockets. "I see what you mean."

"Yes," I said, "but that's not even the worst of it. He's destructive. He chews, and anything he can't chew, he pees or poops on. No matter how many times a day I take him out. No matter how many chew toys I buy him. Puddles and piles and little heaps of spitty leather are all I get from this hell beast."

"But look how cute and funny he is," my husband said fondly as Hershey tired of my sandal and went over to lift one tiny leg in order to better pee on the piano.

"He's about as cute as a sucking chest wound," I said through gritted teeth as I went to find the Murphy's Oil Soap and the Resolve pet stain remover.

As you've probably figured, we still have Hershey. I'm happy to say that his worst traits did mellow with time and I can't remember the last time he used my furniture r carpet as a toilet. He also doesn't chew my shoes or tear holes in my clothes with his claws. In fact, I've been known to address him, in a gooey voice, as "Mommy's little sugar-angel." When I talk baby talk to him, it makes him fall down on his side for love of me and his appreciation for snuggling has earned him the alternate nickname of "Mr. Cuddlesby."

Yesterday, though, we just called him "Birthday Boy" and got him a package of Beggin' Strips (bacon and cheddar flavored, his favorite) for a present. I'm so glad we kept the little ba-....whooops!!!!

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