Monday, October 6, 2014

In a Week ... Happy Anniversary!

Twelve years ago, I took my little niece with me on a beautiful Saturday morning to go looking for a new dog.  I honestly can’t recall whether she and I went to more than one place, but I can tell you the moment I saw this giant-eared, black-masked beastie looking out across the parking lot at the pet store, and I thought, “What a weird looking dog.”  She was one of a kind, yes, even down to her looks – and I remember looking at other animals, but could not tell you what we saw.  My niece and I both seemed to zero in on Sid – or maybe she zeroed in on us (certainly, I have been adopted by pets in my time, seemingly almost without will of my own).

Her peculiar, masked face was topped with one black ear (her only other black feature; and it did not go grey, as  her mask did, and disappear) and one white one with little dalmation spots.  She had a big square head like a Volvo:  it was boxy, but it was good.  And a deep furrow straight down the middle, from the top of her nose right back between those prodigious ears.

Siddy was four, and if “when they thought” her birthday was was right, we shared one.  And she was within about a week of being the same age as that niece of mine.

I remember the adoption process seeming so daunting, and even fearing I would not get to have her – I developed a fast crush on her, and the inimitable Zuba told me, when I was telling her about the other dog I was thinking about, “Diane, you are already calling her Siddy.  That is your dog.”

Zuba is no damned fool, and neither was Sweet La.  She got Zuba so well tied around her little claw even a sneeze straight in her face never dented her auntie’s love for that pup.

So Sid came home, still wearing a traffic cone from a kerfuffle with some other damned fool dog in foster care.  The guy I was seeing at the time evinced a bit of intimidation by her, so he had to go (I’d been looking for the right moment …).  And so she and I had nine years, nine months of I-was-the-luckiest- doggy-momma-evarrr, until that sad July 5.  And sigh.

That was just over two years ago, and it took me from July to October to be ready again … and that was when my MOM went with me to go find a pupadoodle.  Small niece was no longer available, though I kept her posted vicariously, and she ended up approving Penelope.

Penelope, whose little noodly yellow butt seemed so small to me, and whose round, light-bulb head was all full of wrinkledy loose skin and a set of ears the like of which even Siddy had never seen.  She hardly seemed built to hold them up.  Penelope, who seemed entirely unaware of the little things when I took her into the kitten section of that pet store.  Penelope, of the head full of white puppy teeth and insouciant underbite.  Penelope, wearing her little blue bandana around her neck, saying “ADOPT ME” – and I did.  (I had no choice:  I adopt ears.  And hers were prodigious.)

She grew into them – though they’re still quite the arresting feature.

Little did I know that 35-pound scrap of wiggles would turn into a 60-pound slab of … well, wiggles.  And tugs.  And would turn out to be the smartest dog I’ve ever known.  And *everything* about what it can be like to adopt a puppy instead of a more mature dog …

This month, it’s been two years since I recommitted my life to ever being good enough for my dog (and, now, Gossamer kitty as well), and the golden days are reminiscent of both pups’ early days.  Of course, Pen is significantly changed – not just physically – since she came home.  Twice the muscular body, to be sure, Penelope is also exponentially higher-energy, but almost heartbreakingly eager to please, and I am utterly her alpha.

It’s a different relationship than “doggy mommy” which was what I called my role with Siddy pretty much from the beginning.  Sid was a mellower animal, of course – and older – so our relationship was as much her choice as mine.  Penelope, being only about six months old when she came home with me, and of a history either unknown or undisclosed, was bursting with health and the sweetness of a baby girl, and cuter than I could even begin to contemplate resisting.  I had no idea what “almost there” meant with house training (and thank goodness, or I’d never have taken her home; she wee’d in the car on the way, before falling asleep in the back seat) … nor, honestly, what it’s like to live with a highly energetic dog of her size.

Ohhh, but my beautiful yellow baby girl.  She and Goss have never yet become cuddling partners, but they do play, and they have a good understanding.  The pair of them make me laugh so genuinely, so heartily.  Last night, Goss had been playing in the tub, as he is wont to do (how sad a day will it be, when I finally get a plumber to fix the leak …), and came out with a wet head bone.  Penelope was licking his head clean … or taking a drink off the cat, to be more accurate.

As adorable affection goes, I know folks go more for the gentle show of “AWW”-inducing love and friendship, but in our house, the dog slaking her thirst on the cat’s skull qualifies.

And, as much of a spazz-matazz as Penelope can be, the fact is, she’s really very like her predecessor, most of the time.  When she’s in the yard, she can blow off all the springbok-bouncing-across-the-savannah energy she can, and watching her physicality is incredible to me and always will be.  She is a Tigger, just a mass of power that hardly has to touch the ground when she’s really moving – and, like a proper Tigger, she’s fun-fun-fun-fun-fun.  But between bursts, she’s mellow and enjoys a good cat-nap just as much as any dog.  Heh.

She doesn’t tend to sit quite right at my feet, as Sid did, when I am on the couch, but does snuggle up by it if I am having a Sunday afternoon nap.  On those special mornings at home, too, when she is allowed on the bed, she is very good at staying in “her spot” until I indicate I’m ready to scratch her belly a little while, and much better than Sid, now that I think of it, at being still and not indulging extended scratching or washing time and jouncing the whole bed to bits.  She and Gossamer can pen me in (har) quite neatly, between them, and they’re both pretty good together when they’re allowed on the bed at once.  Though yesterday there *was* a near-cat-crushing experience, and Pen would not be told not to flop right against my tum, where the little guy already was.  Erm.

Like any dog, she has such power to melt me to a puddle.  She and Sidney MORE than have that in common, though I’m sure she depends on me in a much deeper way.  I love to just hold her whole head, wrapping my arms around her neck and patting her chest or around her legs.  Letting her have a treat – or a privilege in the house (getting on the bed, being allowed on the couch) is wonderful.  The way she physically *looks* to me for guidance is almost heart-wrenching.  Her ears are beautiful, warm, and the thickest velvet in the world.

And her head is still shaped a lot like a beet.  My dear little Beet Head Ned.

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