The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quirky dogs

When I was about 8, we got our first family dog. He was a little beagle mix puppy we named Buddy. He cried constantly because he was taken away from his mama too early. So the next day, we took him back to his birth family and that was that for our family and dogs for about 4 years.

Then we tried a medium-sized shaggy thing named Barney. I don't remember much about his personality except that he used to watch TV with me and my brothers. He also begged cookies from my dad. When we moved to a house with an un-fenced backyard, Barney had to go live somewhere else.

3 years later we were in a new town, new house (with a fully fenced yard), and we prevailed upon Dad to try the dog thing again. We went to the Humane Society (or was it called the "pound" in those days?) and picked out a grubby mop with four legs that would need four baths and a haircut before we discovered he was a cock-a-poo that actually had eyes. We named him Bernie and he really became part of the family. We even took him on vacation with us one year.
Bernie had personality. He would play with any one of our family- he enjoyed my brothers' company even after they shot him with John's BB gun. It wasn't on purpose, it was a ricochet and the dog happened to be outside with the gun boys. (The vet said the dog would be ok with the BB just sitting there above the his shoulder blades for the rest of his life...)
Bernie also had this quirky thing that he liked to do- he liked to lick our toes. Not just a casual toe-licking because we happened to be barefoot, oh no, his licking was purposeful and planned. Every morning, dad would let Bernie outside to do his thing, and then inside to wake us up. The dog would make a mad dash for one of our bedrooms, leap onto the bed and then stand and stare at the feet of the sleeping person while wagging his tail in said person's face. The job of the awakener was to uncover his or her feet so Bernie could commence licking. Every single toe had to be licked. I'm not sure why because I don't speak dog, but I do know that if we interrupted the licking by getting out of bed, the dog would follow and try to finish the toes he had missed. He must have been an accountant in a previous life because he was so thorough.
After a few years, my brothers and I all moved out of the house. My folks sold the house, and Bernie with it. I know- sounds weird but the new owners wanted him. So, even though that was over 20 years ago, I still picture him living there, waiting for morning so he can lick some toes.

The next dog in my life was a beautiful pure-bred cocker spaniel named Cougar. He had been abandoned, and my brother (The BB gun brother) rescued him and gave him to me. Cougar was not a group dog- he pretty much limited himself to one person- me. He didn't lick toes, he didn't snuggle, and he wasn't the kind of dog that would listen to all your problems the way golden retrievers seem to do.
No, Cougar was a fetcher. He had a multicolored rubber squeaky ball that he would fetch over and over and over again. I could throw that thing 50 times in a row and the dog would unfailingly go get it. When we weren't playing fetch, he would carry the ball around the house like Linus with his security blanket. I have photos of him with the ball just hanging out of his mouth. One day, the ball disappeared and he went nuts checking every nook and cranny in the house and yard just to find the ball. When it disintegrated, I had to buy the exact same kind of ball for a replacement or he wouldn't accept it. I eventually bought about 6 of the darn things so I could have them on hand for ball emergencies.
Cougar got cancer in his jaw when he was about 10 years old. After making the decision to not do surgery, the vet let me hold him while they injected his last shot. I felt his heart stop and it was the sweetest and saddest pet moment of my life. If there is a dog heaven, he is there with his ball.

6 months after that, I tried again. Rascal was a poodle mixed with that dog from Greek mythology- you know, the one who guards the gates of the underworld? His quirky thing was that he ate my carpet, my landscaping borders, my patio chairs, and part of his crate. We took him back to the shelter.

Four years later, my daughter wants a dog. So, we get this little schnoodle who is as cute as a button from the shelter.
He doesn't eat all my stuff.
He doesn't fetch.
He doesn't lick.
He doesn't watch TV.
He doesn't cry.
From all outward appearances, he is just not quirky.
You have to live with him a few hours before you realize that he does have a thing that he does, a signature style, a small little quirk...
You want to know what he does?
He barfs.
Apparently, our dog has acid reflux. Either that, or he has body image issues and feels like he just has to get rid of those last two ounces so he can be a svelte 12 pounds again.
It happens on average about once a day and there are usually no warning signs- he is sitting there and all of a sudden...! Ew.

He appears to be healthy and energetic in all other ways, so I'm not terribly worried, but we'll be visiting the vet again soon to see if we can do something about this.
In the meantime, I am really glad that I have laminate floors.

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