Sunday, November 11, 2018

Charles, the legend



As I wrote previously, we inherited a little dog from my wife's aunt when she passed away in June. Charles is, best we can tell, a chihuahua/deer mix. His alertness suggests deer, but I admit that most deer, even fawns, are taller than 10 inches at the shoulder. He has a very deerlike quality, though, in coloring and in skittishness. I wonder if deer also love bananas. 

Four months ago Charles would not abide anyone but my wife. My son and I were automatically suspect. I gradually won him over, so that now he does this coy sidling-up, you-can-pet-me-now-dude move. He comes close, then turns his back to me and looks over his shoulder like Clara Bow in a silent film. I'm ready for your adoration, Mr. DeMille.

He still nips at my son, barks at him whenever he comes in sight. Even the sound of my son's bedroom door opening evokes a volley of vitriol, until he sees it is me coming through. He seems to want to have a dog in the house lower in status than himself, so he has made Ben that dog. Charles himself thinks nothing of taking over our other dog Skipper's bed, the bed he has enjoyed for a decade. Skipper will approach as if to say hey, my bed. Charles will snarl as if to say "fake news." 

Confidence is everything.

In dog years, Charles is probably 80, and he has a cough now, a deafening hack, as if a cat with a hairball has somehow gotten ahold of a megaphone. It seems to be triggered by stress, or a change in the dynamics of a room, good or bad. My wife (Mama) comes home, and it's time for several minutes of is-Charles-dying? Ben heads to the kitchen for ice cream, and it's time for a tiny, furry command performance of "Camille." A vet said he has an enlarged heart, but Charles is fine until somebody gets up from a chair, or the mailman comes. I'm calling BS. 

I think he has Napoleon Complex. We will leave for a walk, go half a block and then Charles sets his heels. The stiff defiance of his front legs brings to mind Max, the dog in the Grinch story, balking at the top of a sheer snowy cliff. He has no idea I could effortlessly juggle him. To Charles, he is masculinity itself; dominant, eternal, unquestionable. It is hilarious. 

I only wish he could be momentarily human, with a human's self-awareness, so we could laugh together over a beer at his comically extreme obsession with squirrels. No sports fan alive has had his level of passion. But my wish cannot be. As I write this, he is unselfconsciously chewing on his own foot. Now he has shaken out his ears, with a soft flapping sound, so that they are, I guess, at their full length and functionality. 

There are critters to hear. And mailmen. And kids on skateboards. Vigilance is key. If you ever doubt this, just ask Bambi's mom. 



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