Tuesday, March 22, 2005

# 10 A DOG EXPOSE

In days of yore I used to write fabulous literary exposés describing boyfriends and why they were so overwhelmingly endearing, but I’m too old for that now. So I thought just for your amusement I would write an exposé on why I’m so in love with my Dough-Gee Dog although probably those old exposés I used to write would prove far more amusing.

Dough-Gee arrived with five other baby puppies in the middle of winter. Basset hounds are not meant to live outside with their short hair so there was nothing for it but to make Mama dog a nest in the corner of one bedroom. Just in time too, because within no more than an hour, she started having babies. The vet told me later that they were all born breach because she had held back too long. That was my fault as I hadn’t readied a nest for her. And she is the type of dog that she knew this episode would make a mess and she would have held back forever rather than create a mess!

Anyway I moved into that same bedroom with her to make sure none of the babies got lost or caught in the sleeping bag and to make sure they were all happy, healthy, and getting enough to eat. As soon as they began to creep out of their nest, I moved them to an outdoor doghouse with a heavy quilted curtain on the door, fresh straw, and an electric lamp that I felt was safe enough to prevent a fire. I checked the temp frequently and made sure the house stayed warm enough without getting too warm. I felt bad that the puppies and mother had to sleep with a light blazing in their eyes, but I knew of no other way to ensure they would be warm enough.

Their warm house was out in the yard but in addition to that I had a small well-insulated doghouse on the deck but it was too small for such a large family. But amazingly, as soon as those puppies could manage to pull themselves up the steps, they moved – right into the tiny little house on the deck. I think they just wanted some blessed sleep without a lamp blazing in their eyes.

By then they were eating mush out of a dish. They all had exotic names but Dough-Gee was the last to be named because he was always hanging out in some back corner trying to be as transparent as possible. So with my imagination at an end, there was nothing for it but to name him D.O.G. (pronounced as it is spelled, dee-oh-gee with a bit of a run-together slur).

Soon the six puppies were up for adoption and people were stopping by to see them. One was a beautiful calico color – a lovely glossy copper red, patches of white, and patches of black, and an exquisitely patterned face. I told Hub if I were to keep one of those puppies it would definitely be the calico puppy. So from then on when hopeful adoptees came to view the puppies, they were immediately told the calico puppy was not going anywhere.

Soon there were only three puppies left – the calico puppy, D.O.G., and another plain looking black dog very similar to D.O.G. but much better proportioned and certainly more handsome. But that day when some young people came to pick up the last two puppies (excluding the Calico Puppy), I went to the doghouse to bring all of the pups into the kitchen. As usual calico puppy came to the step immediately. And the other puppy soon followed. But no D.O.G.

I looked in the doghouse. He was there huddled up against the back wall when he heard so much talk and laughter. I reached in and pulled him out. I looked him straight in the eye to make sure it was him as he looked a lot like the other plain dog – mostly black with no special markings. And when I looked at his face at that close proximity, he looked straight back.

And I read a message in his eyes. "Please Roberta," he said, "I know I’m very plain. Nothing much to look at and I know I’m a bit weird with my five toes on one back foot, my big head, my overly long body, and my short crooked legs (and believe me they are crooked, the crooked-est you will ever see), but please let me stay. I promise I will forever be loyal to you, I’ll be the best dog I can, and I will never threaten to bite anyone ever." (this all flashed through my mind in that brief minute that it took me to pick up D.O.G. and bring him in for his adoptive master’s approval).

Now the five young people that had come to pick up two puppies, and ED, and myself sat in a ring on the kitchen floor with three puppies in the middle. Two showing off their stuff and the other looking as dejected and disinterested as he could possible look. All eyes were of course glued to Calico Puppy. I reached out to pick him up. He silently sneered, gave me a haughty look, and turned his back on me.

After the message I received in that quick look at D.O.G.’s face, I wanted to look in Calico Puppy’s eyes and see what message they conveyed. The message was cool and remote. "I am beautiful, gorgeous, and although I might be a dog, in my heart I expect to be treated like Queen of the Cats. I will allow you to hold me and pet me only when I feel like it."

ED noticed the affectionate looks of the young people when they saw calico pup, with his beautiful sleek body and glaringly beautiful patches of color. So she started to say, "Don’t even think about Calico Pup. That is Mom’s…"

"Sh," I said. "No it isn’t. This is mine. D.O.G. is mine." As I picked him up. And I swear he looked at me and grinned. That happy look when puppies part their jaws slightly and just let the tip of their tongues hang out.

ED was floored. I was a little surprised myself. Especially since I have vowed since I was a child to never keep a black dogs. I always thought they looked mean. And despite what effect it might have on the propective customers sitting with us in that circle, ED blurted out, "You can’t be serious. D.O.G.’s got no personality. In fact he’s really homely."

But I kept D.O.G. And Calico puppy went on his way to a new home. That was three years ago and not once, not even for one moment, have I ever regretted keeping him. He house trained in 2 days, he is the most amiable dog you could ever hope to meet. He loves children, senses that he must play very gentle with them. He is smart and lovable and grateful. Hub can take him places without a leash because he is loyal enough to stay right with him (as long as there isn’t some fool at hand that says ‘dear’ or ‘deer’) because his first response is to dash about wildly while communicating to Hub. "Where are they? Just show me. I’ll clear them out of here."

All this is D.O.G., despite the kids saying over and over "Pray tell, when I you going to start disciplining that spoiled dog." I’m afraid we haven’t. But D.O.G. is such a gentle soul, he would not offend for nothing.

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