11. January 2006 · Comments Off on Mere Doggerel · Categories: Domestic, General, Pajama Game

Oh, good lord, after 20+ years of dedicated cat ownership (having freely acknowledged that a cat or cats more or less owned me as their human-hot-water-bottle, their provider of companionship, clean litter-boxes and finest gourmet cat kibble) I have descended—as Morgie, Henry VIII, Little Arthur, Percival and Sammy would see it— to ownership of that lesser form of companion-animal life, a mere dog. Yes, a mere dog, in the form of the Lesser Weevil, chosen for me by Cpl/Sgt. Blondie. Owing to a small spate of petty crime, or attempted crime in my otherwise fairly regulated neighborhood, my daughter issued an edict; that as I generally live alone, I should have either a dog, or a gun. I chose the dog as the lesser of two weevils. Not only is it rather harder to kill someone by accident with a dog, but one of the local patrolling SAPD officers cheerfully noted when asked for his opinion, that he had oftener been chased out of a back yard by a dog than he had been by a gun. The initial expense and upkeep, training and licensing, plus ammunition or food and vet bills may work out to about the same amount, in the long run. And a dog is generally more charming and affectionate… and the Lesser Weevil is all that… charming, happy, affectionate, quite intelligent as dogs go (some of my parents’ dogs were certifiable idiots), and rather attractive… again, as dogs go.

She is mostly and obviously boxer, with a quarter to a half of something else; what that something else might be is a mystery for geneticists, but her resulting general appearance is of a leggier, slender boxer. She is fulfilling the basic requirement of being a watch or alarm dog, in that she does bark at strangers coming to the door, or crossing the green belt too close to the back fence, but displays a pleasingly intelligent discretion in that she does not bark endlessly over trivial or distant provocations, and stops barking once Blondie or I tell her to stop. The bark is evidence of some other ancestry; a deep sonorous bay, reminiscent not of Jengiss-Khan, but something more like a bloodhound or beagle. She is intelligent, in that she has caught on to the concept of “sit”, “stay”, “get in the car”, “behave”, “on the right, Weevil!” and manages mostly to obey, and to not pee inside the house too much… well, only once or twice in the last 48 hours. We started letting her inside the house after we came home from California: she was allowed inside there, and spend nights in the guest room with us, so it was just too cruel to banish her to the yard again.

The cats are handling this thing very well; they have the upper hand inside, and they know it and she knows it. Touchingly, she seems to want them to play with her. I have observed her often crouching down, tail wagging, just inviting them to a romp, but only Blondie’s cat, Sammy the Gimp (who was raised with dogs, albeit much smaller ones!) is interested in accepting the invitation. Percival and Morgie are distantly interested, Henry VIII is just disinterested, and Little Arthur is the only one actively hostile— he snarls, hisses, and makes a barbed one-paw swipe at her at every opportunity. But none of them are afraid of her, really. This evening, she was sniffing at Henry, who was his usual bored and languid self, sprawled half on his back in the hallway, hardly a defensive posture. All he did was bare his teeth and hiss; somewhat crushed, she let him alone. I don’t really think she sees cats as an alien species to her, just some sort of odd, non-barking and snobbish dog, who mystifyingly, do not want to play with her.

And she is a friendly and open-natured dog. Hostility from other dogs freaks her out, and then she displays a overwrought tragic and woebegone countenance that would do Sarah Bernhardt proud. At a rest-stop beside the highway near Ft. Stockton, she was snapped at by a bad-tempered poodle while Blondie had her on the leash in the pet area and I was in the restroom. When I came back, Blondie was sitting on one of the benches, with an utterly distraught Lesser Weevil gathered up in her lap… if Weevil had been a small child, she would have been sobbing uncontrollably.

And lest this seem like an utter paragon of a dog, there are some small considerations to hold against her. The veterinarian guessed her age at anywhere between 6 and 18 months, and at this point I would tend towards the younger end of that sliding scale. She tends to be over-excitable, especially when Blondie and I come home after a time away from the house, and the first half-mile or so of my run in the morning is a prolonged wrestling match with a rowdy puppy, pirouetting like a maddened dervish, until she settles down to a steady reliable trot… there was an accident on the rug not twenty minutes ago… and she chews things. My god, does she chew things. A partial list of casualties so far includes all three pillows off the porch furniture, two of the wooden outdoor chairs, a plastic garden sprayer, one garden hose, my gardening hat (which was practically trashed anyway), the bottom of the trellis gate arch, a bamboo outdoor table with glass top (she knocked it over and the glass shattered on the stone pathway) a rose bush, a butane lighter kept on the back porch to light the oil lanterns with, her own leash, and a pleather handbag of Blondie’s forgetfully left in reach.

My neighbor Judy advises me that this will go on for another year or so; I only hope I have some garden left at the end of it.

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