Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Damned Dog

My husband is a quiet man, but when he talks—look out. For instance, two years ago while I was making dinner, and the kids were driving me crazy, I asked him if he could entertain them while I cooked. In a deep baritone voice he announced, “Hey kids, Daddy’s getting you a dog!” I dropped an entire box of salt into the pot of boiling sauce.
          I looked at him like he was crazy and replied, “Por Qua, Poppy?” which is French for “Are you out of your ******* mind!” He nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders. Now, one shrugs their shoulders when Shop Rite’s out of sale items; when the principal asks if there’s any family history of mental illness; NOT when they unilaterally announce that a shedding four-legged, needs to be walked three-times-a-day, non-stop eating machine is moving in! We talked for 8 years before we decided to have children for godsakes! But a dog? Fingersnap, and “Come on in fleabag—daddy found you a mommy!”
          It just so happened that the North Shore Animal League was bussing in runaways and strays the next day to Gilda’s Club in Hackensack, so off we went. The bus had a windowed wall so that you could look at all the choices. Pedigree puppies excitedly jumped up, down and around their glass enclosed cages; kittens of all colors climbed on top of each other. And then there she was. The fat old lady of the litter at 7 months and 45 pounds, her back scornfully pressed against the window, curled up into herself for a comfortable mid-morning nap. I knocked on the window, causing her to stir and look at me with an expression that said, “What the **** do you want, Jersey Girl?” I knew then that this cranky canine was the dog for us.
          As predicted, everyone soon lost interest in her. So guess who became ward of the dog? Well, I now love this dog. She follows me everywhere, she climbs into bed with me, and barks whenever my husband attempts to come near me. How great is this dog??? I swear, when she dies I’m having her stuffed!       
          One day when she was looking a little Rastafarian, I decided to groom her with an old electric hair razor that I found in the basement. Why not? Afterall, it costs me more to have her hair cut than mine, so...what could be the harm? I have to admit, the dog actually sat still for me as I plugged in the ancient Sears shears, although she did howl and cry. I was amazed by the first few cuts. Her ragged hair fell off in knotted clumps and I momentarily thought that I had found a new career. Forget writing! I'll charge $20 to groom dogs and make a nice living.
I switched off the razor to stop and admire my work. As my dog sat there obediently allowing me to observe her, I was instantly horrified. If there's a doggy version of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" she'd get the lead. One side of her jaw was bald while uneven clumps of shag hung from the other side. Her tail looked like a topiary, her legs were shaved hairless, her knees were knobby (Wow! Dogs have knees????) and her paws looked like they belonged to a wooly mammoth. Apparently, I got carried away and shaved off her left eyebrow. Frankly, I never knew that dogs even HAD eyebrows until I shaved one off! Looking at me with contempt, she skulked off.
However, it wasn't until she refused to step out of the house to go for a walk that I realized she was thoroughly embarrassed! I literally had to lift and carry her out of the house and even then she ran to hide behind every unoccupied tree! So, I did the only thing that a responsible dog owner, and mother, could do--I made an appointment with a real dog grooming shop to have her evened out. And when they asked who did this to the dog--I blamed it on the kids. 

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