Posts Tagged ‘animals’

Diva Dog

Almost any pet owner will tell you he/she has the smartest dog/cat/pig/parakeet around. We’ve all received YouTube videos of the singing/dancing/skateboarding dogs or seen the commercials of the wily cat who gets into mischief and blames the dog. Smart.

My dog is not so much smart as manipulative. She comes by her instincts naturally, which is to say, genetically, being a mix of two breeds. One, the Bichon-Frise (far right), is known for its crowd-pleasing prowess; the other, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for its exquisitely refined sense of entitlement and connection to royalty.

My Molly (named after her Irish sire) has a sweet face: large, limpid limpid brown eyes, a pert black nose and a round jaw. She looks like a stuffed animal.

She is white  with red/brown spaniel ears and an apricot patch on her right flank. Her hair is neither Bichon curly nor Cavalier long and flyaway; it’s wavy and unusually soft like a cotton ball, according to one young neighbor. Her tail tells the tale of two breeds, neither straight out like a spaniels’ nor completely curled back on itself like a Bichon; instead, it’s a luxurious mane she carries just slightly above her rear end, almost like a flag that implies surrender–the other’s, not her’s.

Surrender they do: Molly the Cavachon is well aware of both her looks and her ability to turn on the charm (and turn it off as well). She is alternately eager and loving around people and mildly to strongly disinterested in dogs, with one exception: a small poodle named Ricky towards whom she shows a disproportionate amount of interest. Otherwise, dogs are of no use to her; they nip and fuss and sniff in ways that are vaguely unpleasant and gain her nothing. People, on the other hand are almost always good for attention, affection and, if she’s lucky, treats.

Although usually placid, Molly is easily startled; she can jump, back away, duck or run as fast as a whippet. Her reactions suggest abuse as a puppy, which is most emphatically not the case. She appears most comfortable with white small to medium-sized dogs, a bias that I admit doesn’t sit well with me. I wonder about false doggie memories instilled by a disreputable pet therapist while she was being whelped. But it may just be part of her m.o. to make use of exaggerated reactions.

Molly has a range of sounds that I never imagined in a dog. Her various whines and yips and barks and grunts are part of a language I’m still working to decipher. She has a sound for when she’s bored, when she has to go out, when she wants to play, when she wants more attention, when she’s hungry, when she’s afraid, when she’s playful, when she’s really hungry, when she’s tired, and when she’s absolutely starving. Like many dogs, she’s perfected the killer stare. She also has a decent size vocabulary, although fully half the words she knows are related to eating (hungry, food, eat, bone, breakfast, treat, dinner…you get the idea).

Because I worry about her getting fat, what with her food obsession, I make sure she gets plenty of exercise. This obviously doesn’t involve a romp at the dog park where (horrors!) we might encounter other dogs. Instead, we play fetch. Naturally, my dog can’t chase an ordinary tennis ball or even one of those over-priced things you find in pet stores. No, her ball of choice is a ratty plastic thing she found on the ground on which I infrequently use sandpaper to remove some of the more disgusting bits of detritus that have attached to it. Nothing else will  do except an oversized chunk of rock or occasionally acorns, none of which are sanctioned by her vet. As she appears deliriously happy when chasing these objects, I simply don’t tell him. I’ve also learned how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on dogs although I haven’t yet had to use it, thank goodness.

As my selectively social and highly privileged animal lives her life, barking at real and imagined passersby, playing up to visitors, interrupting my work with her various demands and cuddling up to me, I am overcome once again with an unreasoning love for this  singular creature that shares my house and my heart.

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