You need to know some things about my dogs. You need to know these things in order to fully understand my life as an inhabitant of Animal Planet. *I* need to see these things as words to see if they sound just as weird written down as they sound in my head.
Gypsy/Gypser/Scooter Pot Pie/Scoot/Tootsie Roll/Piggie/Pig Dog
Gypsy came first. My funny, perpetually worried Beagle-girl. I bought her during “The Single Year” – the eighteen months or so between the time I got divorced and the time Calvin and I started dating. I was exceptionally lonely and bereft of purpose, so I got her to keep me company and give me something to focus on besides being miserable. The first night I kept her penned in the kitchen behind a baby gate. She yodeled. The next night I kept her in a crate in my bathroom. She yodeled. The next night I kept her in a box in my bedroom. She fussed a bit, but settled pretty well. Every morning before work I’d walk her and encourage her to “do her business”. I’d keep her in the kitchen, come home at noon to “encourage” her again (and clean up the puddles), repeat upon getting home from work, and right before bed. She got housetrained pretty rapidly, and graduated to sleeping, uncaged, in my bedroom.
She and I were constant companions. I’d spend a lot of time sitting on the grass in the park near my house, and she’d sit next to me and lean against me. We took car trips to other parks, and the Mill Avenue shopping district by the college. Monday nights became a tradition of eating a “picnic” dinner on the floor, on a blanket in front of the TV watching Ally McBeal. I’d order nachos and hot wings from Teakwoods, and pick up a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine. We’d sit together and I’d share my dinner with her.
She got to be quite a portly dog (hence the “Tootsie Roll” nickname).
She tries so hard to please everyone. She has a constant worry wrinkle in her forehead, and eyes that alternately beg/sparkle/widen as she sees food, or feels frisky, or tries to figure out what it is you want. She completely freezes up if she’s confused. Typically this is when she’s following so close to your feet that she gets in the way, and you bump her and say “Gypsy, move!” She hears that tone of voice, and stops. Dead. Even if she’s still in the way.
If the other dogs are in trouble, she acts like she is. She cowers. She sometimes refuses to come. Her tail tucks so firmly between her legs it pokes out under her chin. Once, when Gadget was a puppy, he dug a hole in the backyard. Gypsy, concerned that he’d get in trouble, filled it back in. Calvin and I watched the whole process, amazed. Gypsy is the definite peacekeeper in the house. She’ll have nothing to do with committing acts of mischief. One evening the backyard gate was left open. While Gadget took off and roamed the neighborhood (this was before we got Kye), Gypsy stayed in the backyard.
She’s a big damned baby, though. Hot air balloons freak her out. The last one that passed over our house, Gypsy bolted in through the barely-held-open door (I was checking to see what the heck Gadget was barking at). She ran through my bedroom and into the shower, to huddle in the corner. One evening while we were out, we had a monsoon (a big thunderstorm). She squeezed under the backyard gate and left muddy pawprints where she jumped on the front door. We saw the pawprints when we got home, and I was afraid she had taken off. But when we looked, she was there in the backyard. Muddy pawprints adorned the back door, too. Apparently she knocked on the back door, got no response, so crawled under the gate to knock on the front door, got no response, then crawled back under the gate to the familiar safety of the back yard.
Man, you should have seen her eyes light up when we finally got home, though. We made much of her, giving her a bath and blow drying her off. She’s a slut for attention.
She gets worried, and freezes stiff, if you pick her up. She’s not a “pick me up and cuddle me” dog, she’s a “pat me and play with my ears and talk baby talk to me” dog.
Gypsy is weird sometimes. I’ll be watching TV, and she’ll be laying on the floor. All of a sudden she’ll leap up, stare straight up into the air at the ceiling, and start licking at nothing. Her tongue will come straight out, and back in. Out, in. Out, in. She’ll also stare at a corner, or the door, for minutes on end. I swear dogs see things other people don’t. She also has this funny way of looking at you out of the corner of her eye, as if to say “I see you over there contemplating some mischief. I’ve got my eye on you.” Cracks me up.
She gets ear infections all the time because of those floppy ears of hers. If they get moisture in them they don’t dry out, and when they don’t dry out they grow yeast. When they grow yeast we get to flush them out with saline solution and poke anti-yeast goo into her ear, and hold her head still so she doesn’t shake it back out.
You can do anything to that dog. She is the best behaved dog at the vet’s I have ever seen. She’ll stay in whatever position you put her in. Her eyes turn bloodshot when she gets her temperature taken, though. But she takes shots well, and allows the ears/teeth/eyes inspection winningly. The techs at the vet’s office love her to death. And she knows it, oh yes. She hates their “cookies”, though. Must taste too much like vitamins.
But she’s all over a slice of cheese. Indeedy she is.
Food is her obsession. This, apparently, is an identifying characteristic of the breed. If you have food, she’ll stare at you. Unwavering. Unblinking. She won’t be so rude as to insinuate herself into your space to take food (unlike *some* dogs I could mention), but she’ll beg as hard as she can until you give in and toss her some. She’s really good at catching popcorn mid-air. Marie is teaching her to dance on her hind legs for a treat.
Speaking of which, she has trick knees (Gypsy, not Marie). Apparently there is some disorder common in Beagles in which the knees pop in and out of joint. It’s severity is determined by degrees – 1 for minor, up to 4 for major. Gypsy’s at about a 2. All that means is that sometimes while she’s running, she “skips” because her knee popped out of joint and she has to pop it back in. Weirded me out when the vet told me about it. And demonstrated it (“Hey! Put my dog’s knee back in!”).
As you can tell, Gypsy’s my favorite. She’s a Momma’s dog. Any sign of trouble sees her bolting for my legs. She’s incredibly polite, though. She “asks” first before putting her paws on you. If you sit on the floor, she doesn’t climb all over you. She just comes over and says hi, and looks for signs from you on how cuddly to get. She’s *never* loud, and only barks if there’s a reason (or if Kye is being especially annoying). She never pulls on the leash while going on walks, and never does the “I’m going around you in circles now” dance that ends up with the walker being tied up by the leash. The only “bad” thing she does is take the ferret droppings from the cage (poo fascination is another attribute typical of the breed – at least she doesn’t roll in it). And even then, Marie’s all for it, because it means less poo for her to clean out.
Yes sir, Gypsy’s my baby. No sir, I don’t mean maybe.
Gadget/Gadge/Big Boy/Idiot/Prissy Boy/Frog Legs
Gadget is our Miniature Pinscher. When we first got him he was small enough to fit in the palms of your hands. He had the most adorable floppy little ears, but Calvin insisted on getting them cropped like they do on his bigger cousins (his tail had been bobbed right after being born). I was *so* against it at first, but now when I look at him I see what a beautiful job they did, and I’m glad we had it done. It was hysterical, in an awful way, to see him – tiny little Gadget – running around with one of those cones around his neck so he wouldn’t fuss at the stitches in his ears. The first cone was bigger than he was, and he could hardly pick up his head. We had to get a foam cone. Even then, he popped his stitches twice. He’s the highest maintenance dog we’ve got. In more ways than one.
When he was a bitty thing we’d hold him a lot, like a baby. I was almost afraid to put him down, he was so small. Absolutely the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen in your life. And did he *cry*. When you put him in his crate. When you penned him behind the gate. When you put him down after cuddling him. Gypsy didn’t quite know what to do with him at first. I don’t think she even realized he was a dog. But they got acquainted, and soon she was patiently tolerating his ear-gnawing, run-and-tackle ways. He trotted around after her constantly – still does.
He. Is. A. Rude. Selfish. Little. Dog. He thinks he’s a full sized Doberman. All the attitude, none of the brawn. Birds that land in our backyard are bigger than him. Our cat is almost bigger than him. Actually, maybe they’re the same size. He’s all bark, no bite. None at all. He’ll taunt from a distance, and then run behind the bigger dogs. When we’re letting all the dogs out, he’ll growl and bark at them on the way out, and nip at their heels, and get in the way. In general, make a nuisance of himself. I have no idea why he does this. It’s like he’s saying “Okay, now we’re outside on *my* turf, and this is the way things are going to go around here.”
He barks at everything. Birds. The neighbors. Air. Nothing at all. Sometimes he just seems to need to make noise. And he’s so melodramatic about it. And then he gets Kye going, who’s so dumb she has no idea what he’s barking about, but since he’s barking she should be barking, and Gypsy just rolls her eyes and finds a sunny spot to take a nap in, and Gadget continues to bark at nothing…
He believes he can jump up on furniture with immunity. This stems from the fact that he’s picked up and cuddled as an adult the way he was as a puppy. He wants to be held. All the time. He’ll beg for that the way Gypsy begs for food. The kids usually accommodate him.
He’s a big damned baby. He’ll do this pathetic body shiver thing that makes the tips of his ears vibrate. His whole message is “Look at me! (shudder shudder) I’m cold and pathetic! (vibrate vibrate) Pick me up and cuddle me and love me! (shiver shiver)” And he’ll whine. And look pathetic. And shiver. And whine some more. And look at you appealingly. Until you give in. And you will give in. Believe me.
He’s capable of making messes that seem impossible to stem from such a tiny dog. Here’s what I posted about him on Threeway Action’s thread on the most disgusting things our pets have ever done:
Oh, lordy me. My mini-pin, Gadget, is hands down the winner of this contest. When he was a puppy – envision being able to hold him, curled up, in the palms of your cupped hands – we left him locked in the bathroom while we went out for two hours. Just. Two. Hours. In that time, he *coated* the entire bathroom with runny, greeny-brown, puppy shit. I’m not kidding folks. It was smeared all over the floor. Poop prints as high up on the door as he could jump. On top of the toilet. *Under* the toilet lid (we have no idea on that one). Inside the tub. Up on the counter and sink. Along the mirror. Smeared among the tangled up remains of a roll of TP. And of course, all over him. It took me two hours to clean that damn bathroom. It took my SO an hour to clean *him* up.
And then, a few months later, we went camping. We took the dogs’ crates with us, and kept them crated inside our tent at night. We awoke at about 2:00 in the morning to a *ghastly* odor. Gadget again. He had a veritable *poop storm* inside his crate. It was oozing out the airholes. Seeping under the door. Every. Square. Inch. of the inside, including the top, was coated in a half inch sludge of poop. I started swearing up a storm. Took the idiot dog (and his crate) out by the water bucket (again, at 2:00 am) in the *middle of the woods* in the *pitch black darkness* to clean his ass up as best I could (no light, no hose, no puppy shampoo, no patience), freezing my ass off (it was, like, 40 degrees). My SO was laughing at me hysterically – I was pretty colorful in my language. At him *and* the dog. You see, I get relegated to poop-and-vomit cleanup duty, since it makes him gag. Damned wussy.
Gadget is impossible to walk. He pulls, he changes direction, he gets tangled, he tangles you up, he pulls… he seems to want to go 10 MPH faster than his current speed, no matter what that is. Get this. Marie and I take the three of them for walks. I can walk Gypsy and Kye together successfully, but she needs both hands and all her concentration just to walk that one puny dog. We had to invest in a harness because he’d choke himself out, he’d pull so hard. The good thing about that is that when he gets too difficult to manage, the harness acts as a good handle to pick him up by.
That is the good thing about Gadget. He’s small enough that we can *make* him do what we want. He’s a freak about getting punished, though. He lifted his leg to the pool table, and I picked him up to show it to him and discipline him. He *screeched* at the top of his lungs, and basically acted like he’s getting killed. We. Don’t. Lay. A. Finger. On. Him. It’s just something about getting picked up and tipped upside down to be shown what he did wrong (pee’d, pooped, dug a hole, chewed on something). He absolutely flips out. Screams this high pitched shrilly holler that sounds like we’re neutering him without benefit of anesthesia. For as long as you hold him. It could go on for hours. And he wiggles and thrashes. That fucker is *strong* for something that weighs all of twelve pounds. You can barely hang onto him when he really gets his back up.
The other dogs accept feeding pretty normally, but Gadget can’t stand to have other dogs around him when he’s eating. He takes forever, and spends more time defending his food than eating it. So we feed him apart from the other two, out in the dog run. When we collect the dishes, he makes a beeline for the run and stands in there waiting. When he sees you coming with a full dish, he does this crouching thing, wriggles his backend, and then LEAPS straight up into the air. crouch-wrigglewriggle-BOING! crouch-wrigglewriggle-BOING! He clears my shoulder, easily.
Can you say “hyper”?
We call him Frog Legs sometimes because his hind legs are so meaty that’s what they look like (the dog’s got *hops*. He could clear the block wall with a little bit of a running start). We call him Prissy Boy sometimes because he’ll sit with one paw raised up that brings to mind a tea teetotaller with pinky raised. That, and he’s a big damned baby, as previously mentioned. “Big Boy” because he thinks he is, and “Idiot” because we *know* he is. He’s a very handsome dog, and can be good when the mood strikes him. It just doesn’t very often.
Kye is a German Shepherd. We got her at four months because Calvin was very keen on having a GS. His mother had raised them when he was a child, and he has this whole nostalgia thing going on about them. Plus they make damned fine dogs.
She’ll be a year old on the tenth. She’s incredibly sweet, blessed with the same desire to please that Gypsy has. However, she has most definitely *not* been blessed with Gypsy’s common sense. She’s just plain dumb, folks. A good deal of that may be her puppyness, though. We tend to forget she’s a puppy since she’s so much bigger than the other two. 66 pounds to Gadget’s 12 and Gypsy’s 26.
She has a perpetual “dur-hee!” expression on her face. The lights are on, but the tenants have vacated. As I mentioned in a previous entry, if she thinks she’s in trouble she falls all over herself submitting. And trips you up in the process. We’ve never abused this dog, but she’s so mild and timid and anxious that she freaks out if you so much as raise your voice to her. She’ll do an army belly crawl, staying on top of your feet as you shift them around trying to get away from her. She lays on her back with her feet wagging in the air and shows her belly. Her ears get plastered tight against her skull. You have to talk to her encouragingly for quite some time before she relaxes enough not to noodle out.
She’s so incredibly sweet, and loves everybody so hard, that she blows minor disciplinary actions WAY out of proportion. Her infractions include digging holes, pulling dog turd (ugh) up onto the porch, and getting into the garbage cans. She’ll have a spate of bad behavior, and then be an angel for weeks. And then find some other creative mischief to get into.
She can fold her ears into the oddest shapes I’ve ever seen. All angles and pointy corners, like origami. One ear she holds up straight, the other ear flops over. She can hold it up when she wants to, she just chooses not to. It contributes to her “dur-hee” expression.
When she was a (big!) puppy, we used to cradle her like a baby. She adored it. She’d rest her head back, flop her paws over to bob along with your steps, and groan. She’s rather too big to do that now, but she doesn’t think so. She does the same “hold me!” plea that Gadget does, but with far less (nonexistent) success. If you’re down on the floor in *her* territory, though, look out. You will get laid on. She’ll try to crawl into your lap. At the very least she’ll lay her head in your lap. She’s very greedy for attention. She’ll shove her head under your arm to get you to pet her. If you push her away, she’ll sit there and *look* at you with this hurt expression of “Why don’t you love me?” That gets me every time. And Calvin, too. I’ll hear his exasperated “Get away, Kye!” followed moments later by “Oh, okay. Come here, you big baby.”
She’s all about slobber. Drool. Wet nose. Licking tongue. She uses them all to express her great affection for everyone. Including (and I have no idea why) sticking her nose in my butt whenever I have my back turned. Just me. I’m the only one granted this honor. Why, God, why? I mean, I love you too, Kye, but GEEZ!
She’s incredibly shy of strangers. She was doing the noodle thing yesterday at the vet’s. She has a Gypsy-style ear infection. We have a very large tub which we fill with water in the back yard for the dogs. She likes to stand her front two paws in it and dig all the water out, getting herself entirely soaked in the process. She got water in her ear, it wouldn’t dry out because she won’t hold it *up*, and voila! Ear infection. We’re well practiced at tending them.
Anyway, the vet’s. She was so shy of the vet touching her that she did the noodle thing (it reminds me of a toddler that doesn’t want to be picked up). She hid behind the counter. She climbed over Calvin and onto the couch. It took the three of us to hold her upright long enough so the vet could look in her ear. Her eyes bloodshotted out immediately – I guess that’s how they all show stress. The dog has a severe need to be socialized. We got her at a bad time – no time to pay attention to her because of the HIPFH(tm), all the coming and going of the contractors, the chaos and noise of building. It’s no wonder she’s weirded out.
The cat and the ferret fascinate her. She’ll spend minutes on end just staring at either one of them. Although staring at the cat gets her to whining, and then she goes over and pokes the cat with her nose (“Hi!”), and the cat runs, and she chases the cat, and slips on the floor and goes skidding across the room, to come to a rest up against a wall or door. Kye also likes to talk. She’s getting her grown-up voice and likes to test it out. Calvin will get her going with a “Kye dog! Brow-wow-wow, Kye dog! Where’s the kitty?” And Kye will sit there and talk right back to him. “Brow-wow-wow! Rorf-ow, brurf! Rowlowoww-bruf!” Then she talks to Gadget. And Gypsy. And gnaws on her ears. Then goes after the cat. Pretty soon all the dogs are wound up in this maelstrom of fur and tongues and panting and barking. A roared “SETTLE DOWN!” from Calvin brings them back to order. But they eye each other for a while after that.
I can tell that when we finally settle in to training Kye, she’ll be very easy to train. She walks very well, always right next to me and never pulling. She sits and lays down, and is learning stay. She’s learned to be “easy” when taking treats, and when she looks at you it’s with an expression that says “I’m trying so hard to speak your language!” She’s a good dog now, and will be a good dog when she grows up. I’d like to see her be less timid, though, since I don’t think potential burglars would be deterred by either Gypsy or Gadget.
There you have it. The mutts. They’re very distinct in their own personalities. Gypsy’s my favorite, I think Gadget is the kids’ favorite, and I think Kye is Calvin’s favorite. I keep having to deny Calvin any more pets (although I have been known to say “Gee, a Golden Retriever puppy would be nice.”).
NO. MORE. PETS.