Life With (Bad) Dogs

jack-and-sasha-competitionI have two rescue dogs. You’ve met Jack, my neurotic and stunningly gorgeous Chow mix, who prances more than walks and has been known to do things like bolt through my front window in terror over fireworks (a double-paned mullioned picture window on a bitterly cold New Year’s Eve). Jack is six, and stars as Alvin in The Lost Recipe for Happiness.

Today, Sasha takes center stage. Sasha, also known as the pirate dog, was baking in the white hot summer sun in front of Safeway almost fifteen years ago. Some kind of midsize terrier mutt, a three ring circus of a dog from that day to this. These days, she’s stone deaf and half blind and it doesn’t matter in the slightest. She walks a mile and a half on hills every day, and hourly makes her tour of interior perimeter of the house to be sure that no food has fallen on the floor since her last trip, and while Jack snuffles along animal trails in the parks, Sasha’s great joy is finding mouldering pototo chips or maybe a half-eaten candy bar caked with dirt! She’s the greatest scavenger known to canines.

Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself that dogs don’t live as long as humans, and a dog this size aged 15 is probably about 85 in dog years. She has lumps and bumps all over, and the last time I took her to the vet they said not to bother with one of the vaccines. You brace yourself as well as possible, but is any of us ever really ready? I thought she was done for last winter, when she and Jack had a fight over cat food (from which she emerged bloodied but victorious) and they had to put her under to check her eye. She was fine.

But there it is, her ancientness, looming.

Just before Christmas, I was making cookies. I put a tray in the oven, then went around the corner, maybe 15 feet away, to hang a few more ornaments on the tree. I heard a funny noise and ran back into the kitchen, and there was Sasha, sprawled flat on her belly, limbs sprawled wide. She was having a seizure, her whole body twitching and convulsing, and I fell on the floor next to her. Unsure of what I should do, I just put my hands on her, talking soothingly, telling her I loved her, and I put my hands on her sides to see if that would make her stop twitching, or at least make her feel less afraid. “I’m here, baby,” I said, “I’m here.”

When I lifted her slightly, it must have given her body a little help, because she suddenly heaved and coughed, and out of her mouth flew out a perfectly round ball of butter. She’d stolen a whole stick off the counter and tried to get outside with it, but before she could make her getaway, the stick melted in her mouth, and settled in her throat, quite efficiently choking her. When it landed on the floor, she scrambled as fast as she could to grab it again, but I was faster and nabbed it out of reach. 

She leapt up after it, and when she saw she had lost, her only expression was, “Curses! I almost made it.” She skulked away, highly disappointed.

Nothing in life makes me laugh harder than dogs.  Do you have a pirate dog? A scavenger? A neurotic beauty? Tell me a dog story!

January 26, 2009

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