Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rodent passes the Holidaze in the Curmudgeon home

Rodent the pseudo-dog, the shih tzu (in an ancient Chinese dialect 'shih tzu' means 'What The Little Dog Will Do On Your Rug'), stayed with us twice over the Holidaze just concluded.

Oldest Son and his wife Abby brought her over for Christmas -- then flew to Texas for a couple of days to visit Abby's folks. Rodent stayed with us. In a doggie diaper.

Oldest Son never got around to having Rodent 'fixed' -- he decided it would be unnecessary because, as a paper-trained apartment dog, Rodent was unlikely to come in contact with other dogs, particularly at those difficult moments -- so when she stayed with us in December she was experiencing, well, put it this way: Long Suffering Spouse said, "Sometimes it's hard to be a girl dog."

Rodent's Christmas visit overlapped the end of our visit from Older Daughter and her big golden retriever, Cork. So much for the not coming-into-contact-with-other-dogs theory.

Rodent is a sad excuse for a canine, but she has a better sense of smell than any human, and she knew Cork was in residence before she got to the front door. Abby had to carry her in.

Still, this meeting went better than their initial encounter. Someone had to hold onto Rodent at all times (and she trembled like a leaf in a hurricane the entire time) but Cork's attentions were not too obnoxious and easily interrupted (goldens may be among the more easily distracted dog breeds). And Older Daughter did have to leave that day to rejoin her husband Hank (he'd gone home, by bus, on Christmas Eve morning, so he'd be in time for his church-singing gig).

When Oldest Son and Abby got Rodent they knew full well that they had a built-in babysitter for their pocket pooch in Younger Daughter. Younger Daughter is a sucker for puppies -- and a teeny-tiny furball like Rodent was enough to send Younger Daughter into squeals of ecstasy. She'd come home from college -- to our home -- to babysit the dog when Oldest Son and Abby wanted to head to South Bend for football Saturdays. Once or twice Long Suffering Spouse and I took Younger Daughter to Oldest Son's apartment to do her dogsitting duty, but that provided us no real relief.

But now, of course, Younger Daughter has other responsibilities. Rodent finds this confusing. Younger Daughter used to bring the dog up to bed with her at night. Now, when she brings her to bed, Olaf is already there and he has privately admitted to me that he has kicked the dog once or twice during the night -- entirely by accident, of course. And then, when Younger Daughter is awake and supposed to be devoting herself (in Rodent's view) to carrying Rodent around like a plush toy, there's a baby in Younger Daughter's arms instead.

Rodent does not know what to make of the baby. She knows it's not another dog, but, just as Rodent is a poor excuse for a dog, from Rodent's point of view, the baby is a poor excuse for a human. The baby doesn't pet her, it doesn't feed her, it doesn't praise her when she does her business on the puppy pad. A couple of times Rodent has just barked at the baby in frustration.

Rodent had thought Younger Daughter a perfectly acceptable substitute for Abby on those occasions when Abby would be unavailable... but, now, Rodent was no longer sure. Younger Daughter was just as goofy over her as ever -- but not as often. Not exclusively. Rodent acted as though she felt betrayed.

And, at Christmastime, even after Cork was safely back in Indianapolis, Rodent was not too sure that it was really safe to wander our house. She smelled Cork everywhere.

You have never seen a dog, or pseudo-dog, quite so happy as Rodent was when Oldest Son and Abby returned from their Texas trip.

Rodent must have been so confused when Oldest Son and Abby brought her out to our house again late last week. They were on their way to Miami for the BCS Championship game, and what are parents for? (At least this time Rodent was doggy diaper-free.)

Rodent's initial reluctance on getting out of the car quickly passed: She could not detect Cork's scent. Maybe it would be safe! I can't help but wonder if she speculated about whether Olaf and the baby might be gone, too. If that was her hope, however, it was quickly disappointed.

Still, without Cork around, Rodent felt free to roam the house (much more room than in her apartment) and, she discovered, Long Suffering Spouse could provide some of the attention and affection that Younger Daughter had diverted to the baby. One night Long Suffering Spouse graded papers in her chair (she had a lot to do over Christmas break) and I wondered where the dog had gotten to. Then I noticed: She had curled in behind Long Suffering Spouse, in the chair, snug and warm as possible.

We ordered pizza Friday night -- and the one thing Rodent knows about food, based on her life with Oldest Son and Abby, is that delivery people bring the best food.

I couldn't help myself. She was begging for a piece of my pizza so urgently -- so dog-like -- that I had to give her a little piece of crust. Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter both remarked on my uncharacteristic behavior. "You never give that poor dog anything," my wife said.

"That's just it," I agreed. "She's such a rotten excuse for a dog -- but she was exhibiting dog-like behavior just now. I just had to reinforce it."

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

ahhh, the little ankle biter!

smiles, bee