I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place where so many people bring their dogs to work. The new pope would love this place. Wild turkeys run the neighborhood and you can’t go into a store without finding man’s best friend somewhere on the premises. I’m not complaining. In fact, it really just goes along with the vibe here – sort of a canine “don’t worry, be happy” attitude.
I’ve never been a great “pet” person. I wish I was. I wished I was when I was 9 years old and I’m still wishing. My parents always used to say, “Wish in one hand, shit in the other.” That saying has puzzled me for years too. Anyway, I think it may have started back when I was a little girl and my parents let me bring home one of the pups of my grandparents' gargantuan Great Dane, Bridget. Their other dog was named General and you had to throw his food over the fence to feed him. He was a boxer I believe. I was terrified of him. I think if memory serves me correctly – and I think we all know that’s iffy – Bridget and General were the parents of the puppies and I brought mine home and named him Jip.
If you’ve ever read the Marmaduke comics, you have a pretty good idea of what Jip was like. He was big and he was goofy. Anytime we left him alone, he destroyed property. Every single time. Poor guy probably just didn’t want to be left alone and that was long before crates were popular, and I’m not sure they made them big enough for Jip.
I remember a particularly bad incident when Jip chewed the fur collar off Mom’s best coat. Another time he had a wrestling match with a feather pillow. Jip liked to put his paws up on the countertop and drink straight from the kitchen faucet. I don’t know if he just wasn’t trainable or with four kids and full time jobs, our parents just didn’t have it in them. Whatever the issue was, my parents decided it was best to find a home for Jip where he could run around outside like the colt that he truly was. It was sad, though. Even Mom shed a tear when the new owner took Jip home with him. Did I mention Jip also feasted on an entire set of encyclopedias? I don’t remember which offense was the last straw, but there was definitely one that broke the camel’s back.
Years later, when my parents were older and my baby brother Eric wanted a dog, they picked out a Great Dane puppy and named her Dodo after my mom’s nickname. That dog could do no wrong, much like my little brother. She lived to be 10 or 11. One of my fondest memories of Dodo was when I came home from college for a visit and Dodo had delivered a puppy. Just one, I believe there had been another but it didn’t make it. A huge Great Dane and she had one live puppy. It was the only time she got pregnant and I don’t think my parents ever figured out how it happened. She was an older mother though, and didn’t have much use for her puppy. My parents didn’t tell me about Dodo’s puppy until I got home for the weekend. I nearly fainted. Mom and Dad didn’t even know Dodo was pregnant. She went into labor and my mom called Dad home from work. My brothers and sister loved the fact that one of us could have walked home dragging a bloody stump and my dad would never have left a job to come home early. Dodo goes into labor and he clocked out and came home.
So I don’t have a great pet history. We left behind a beautiful terribly-behaved St. Bernard when we came here. We knew we weren’t likely to find a rental receptive to a huge dog. And he really had never been properly trained – completely my fault – and would go after other dogs turning a little bit into Cujo. We found him a great home before we moved but it took a lot out of our family. He may not have been well behaved but he was certainly well loved. I’m not sure when we’ll be ready to try again, but for now we’re happy to pet other people’s pets.
This reminds me a little bit of my good friend Danielle’s son, Jonah. He was about five years old and wanted to show me his new fish or his new tree frog, I can’t remember which. And I hope it wasn’t his fish now that I think about it because I was left in charge of feeding it when their family went on vacation and I apparently sucked at that as well because the fish was dead when they got home. Anyway, I digress. Little Jonah turned and said to me on the way up the stairs to his room, “We’re not really pet people.” I have to admit, I’m not either.
Who loves me loves my dog also. — St. Bernard de Clairvaux