Sunday, June 10, 2018

A new dog, a new normal

My wife’s aunt died Thursday night and left us her dog. Sue was one of those people who always had a little dog or two. Min Pins. Chihuahuas. Rescues, all. She had nippy dogs and snaggle-toothed ones, dogs nobody else wanted, dogs people had discarded. Charlie Brown Christmas trees of dogs. They struck a chord in her, and it thrums now in our house. In Charles.

I do not know if she named him Charles, or the shelter did, but it is awfully formal for this tiny fawn-colored dude. He looks more like a Petey to me, but as the Democrats say, what can you do?

My wife brought him up from San Diego and they bonded in the car. So now he steers clear of the rest of us, but he orbits Jennifer ceaselessly like a wee, velvet-furred moon. 

Unless we have food. Then Chuck drops the shy act. You got banana? Yeah, I could eat. 

Dude loves bananas. He’ll take it from my hand, until it’s gone, of course. Then suddenly I’m the foodless ogre again, to be given a wide berth. 

Our dog of 10 years, Skipper, is friendly with smaller dogs. He has never shared his domain, but as long as the supply lines for food and petting are open, he seems cool with it. Charles appears indifferent, except when Skipper decides to sniff him in delicate areas longer than etiquette permits. Then he’ll dredge up a low growl. 

It’s like watching Pee Wee Herman smack a fist into the palm of his hand menacingly. Not entirely impressive. 

Aunt Sue apparently never threw away a leash or harness. We were bequeathed a box of tangled doggy doodaddery in rainbows of colors. When I balked at putting a padded pink harness on Charles for a walk, my wife opined that color has no gender. She is right, of course. The hangup is mine. I begin to see this dog as a vehicle to enlightenment. 

Yesterday I walked two dogs for the first time. They each had their own agendas, interior personal Morse codes consisting of sniff-pee-poop or poop-poop-sniff-pee. One would stop and one would continue walking, pulling me in opposite directions so that I continually ended up, arms stretched straight out, as if I were in some sort of canine production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” 

Welcome to the new normal. I have never had a dog this small, a dog I could use as a sleep mask, a dog I could lift with one hand, but probably only if the other hand had banana in it. 

As it happens, my wife is leaving today for a week away, so I am going to find out if, in her absence, Charles will warm to me. I am skeptical, but with dogs as with people, bribery works. I am not above trying it. Sue left us her dog, but no Plan B.