Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Who're You Calling a Dog?!?

This is Tyson. Ahem...this WAS Tyson. He passed away on June 18, 2005, when I was in Los Angeles and my husband and children were out for the day. An interesting-looking ugly-looking fellow, but a cutie and sweet and gentle dog nonetheless. Seemingly ugly, nonetheless Tyson managed to get himself a permant job as a pin-up model for a friend's dog-walking service--he may be gone in person...ahem.. in body, but his photo lives on -- on our friend's service van and Web site.

Anyhow, what drove me to write this doggie post today is because I love dogs--the wild and wooly creatures who love us in return for all the good we do for them...ahem...for all the doggie snacks we give them, for all the balls we throw to them, for all the baby talk we use on them. Every day, while driving to work, I pass this woman walking a poodle. It's nice for me to watch the passage of time, the seasonal changes, through this pet. Currently, the dog bounds through the snow while wearing boots and a warm doggie jacket.

Tyson, who was adopted almost three years ago, came with accoutrements, including a wooly jacket. But being the big boy he was, it was tough to do up the Velcro closings on his underbelly. Can you imagine trying to get boots on this beast? It's tough enough to get my kids to stomp the snow off their boots and remove them gently and remind them to hang up their winter coats. Try telling that to a dog, to a poodle: "Mitzi, honey, I know you're cold from our 10-minute walk, and yes, you just want to lie in front of the furnace grate, but could you please remove your boots for Mummy? It would be good of you, too, if you took off that jacket, and carried it over to hang over the railing leading to the basement.... Good extra-special treat for you IF YOU DO THAT for Mummy."

I've gotta ask this: Where have all the German shepherds gone? When I was a child, a poodle or a German shepherd were the dogs of the day. These days, those nasty -- and now illegal -- pitbulls have taken their place in this world.

Like anything else in this world, I generally go for the tried and true, the common and conservative look. But my progressive side rears its ugly head every now and again, and I like things that are somewhat different. Like dogs.

Have you ever come face-to-face with a Puli, a Hungarian kind of sheep dog that resembles a Rastafarian's head of hair? Wild and wooly certainly applies to them. How the heck does an owner or a groomer brush through that fur. I, who as a kid had even crazier curls and frizzy hair than I do now, sat as my parent used "brush, comb, brush, comb...and Johnson & Johnson's No More Tangles" to get through my hair. Does a Puli owner do the same?

When I was in my ninth month of one of my pregnancies, I was coming out of a mall with my husband and there was a car parked in front by the door. The car's back-seat passenger was a white dog who was looking woefully (woof-fully?) out the window. I broke out into gales of laughter when I saw this animal; the screaming laughter just kept coming and I was afraid I'd go into early labor. This poor animal looked like a standard sized poodle whose groomer had taken "just a bit" too much off the forehead and nose of the dog. For years we kept talking about this, saying "Do you remember that dog we saw...?" Recently I decided that maybe it wasn't actually a poodle, so I googled something like "Dog resembling a sheep" and to my surprise that dog does have a name: Bedlington terrier.

And what about those little rat-resembling dogs that have wisps of hair here and many ways like a comb-over on a man with thinning hair. I think they can't decide what kind of dogs they are but I'll tell you that they're called Chinese Cresteds.

In May 2004, I took my children and Tyson to Woofstock, a fair/festival catering to... you guessed it... dog owners and their pets. Booth wares ranged from gourmet dog food to doggie day care services to doggie fashions to photographers and painters that would capture your pet in picture. It was an eye-opening venue and both I and my children didn't know where to look first -- between the shrieks of fear from my children and their excitement to pet some of the passersby, it was a most entertaining and delightful couple of hours for us.

Tyson, being the dog breed he was, with the short legs and difficulty dealing with heat, was ready to sit out our stroll. So out came child #3 from the stroller, and I lugged Tyson into the stroller in his stead, gave him some doggie treat samples I'd scored and some water from our water bottles and let him sit regally there in that designer stroller wearing the new PINK bandanna that a booth vendor had given us. Tyson didn't have an identity crisis and had no qualms about wearing anything his merit.

It was fun to get the looks and the pointing and the smiles from people. But I thought, What's so different about pushing the dog in a stroller? They're selling dog and cat buggies that are cages or boxes on wheels. At least my pet is strolling in style!

At some point I passed a couple speaking Hebrew. The man turned to the woman and told her to look at the dog. Of course, Pearl being Pearl, I piped up and said in Hebrew: "Yeah, look at the dog in the stroller. He thinks he's a king!"

My husband talks about getting another dog perhaps, but not a large one as I think he would. He'd like some small frilly dog with lots of hair that would take lots of grooming. He thinks a dog like that is low-maintenance, unlike some big one that expends lots of energy and needs to be constantly walked and have lots of space to roam, etc. Okay, so maybe we'll get another dog. Maybe a dog that will need to use No More Tangles or even Dippety-Doo. Okay, maybe I'll give in to such a breed, but there will be no attitude allowed in my house. None of the: "I'm a lap dog, I need to be pampered, I need to sleep in your bed between you and hubby." There will be none of the "I can't eat from this bowl. It has some dried meat on the side. Ewwww." None of the "I feel faint. I can't walk anymore. Please pick me up and hold me." (oh, wait, Tyson did that, too, and he was definitely not a diva dog...but yes, he did have a pink bandana!)

I can't have a dog like that in the house ' might lead to some competition for me!

Well, I'm gonna take a BOW (-wow-wow) now and leave you with these brilliant doggie quotations:

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." --Andrew A. Rooney

"Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful." --Ann Landers