“What’s better? Dogs or brooms? I mean, will the world ever really know?” Larry Bird
“We’re going to have to get out of here or I’m going to kill him,” I said.
Brian my newly wed husband didn’t say anything. What could he say? Freddie was his older brother and we were living in Freddie’s house in Little Italy.
But, Freddie wasn’t just our landlord. He was an annoying older brother. He stuck his empty, dirty, disgusting food wrappers into my make-up bag when I wasn’t looking because he thought it would be funny when I found them.
It wasn’t funny. I told Brian there was going to be trouble. We started looking for a house of our own.
Brian and I prayed together about the kind of house we wanted. We wanted central air, three bedrooms, and a fenced-in backyard.
We searched for a long time and finally our prayers were answered when we found a two-story house in West Park. We were one of the first people to see it, we put a bid on it, and we got it.
We got everything we wanted, basically. The basement was waterproofed and the back porch covered, although the backyard wasn’t dog friendly the way we wanted it, not in the least, not at all.
For the first four years of living in that house we had a backyard of mud. It was because we had up to 13 dogs at any one time, some ours, some rescues. When they came into the house a lot of mud would track in with them. Since I’m a clean freak it freaked me out.
“It’s a shame we can’t cement in the whole backyard,” I said to Brian.
“I’ve got a guy for that,” said Brian.
Brian’s got a guy for everything.
Brian’s guy laid down stone stamps in the patio and we put in river rocks, large ones around the small patio, and small ones in a big bed next to the garage for the dogs to potty.
That made it easy to clean up. We hose down the patio, hose down the river rock bed in the back, and Brian picks up every day. He puts it all in a garbage bag and we throw it in the garbage cans.
What else are you going to do with it?
Even though we liked our new home right away, which made our realtor totally happy, it was awful. It was decorated like an old person’s house. The outside of it was painted yellow and brown. Inside the woodwork and walls were painted white. I’m not a white person.
We painted everything, the outside of the house, and all the inside, too. I had a lot of design ideas and a lot of ideas about new colors. We ripped out the carpets right away. Then we re-did the hardwood floors. I swore to myself I would never have the house carpeted again.
Except after the last two winters in Cleveland happened. Like Erie froze over.
It was winter for a long time so twice for two straight years. Getting up every morning, touching the cold hardwood floors, one morning I just said, we’re not doing this anymore.
“We’re getting carpeting for the upstairs bedrooms,” I said.
Brian was very much against putting in new carpeting. He’s usually against everything, but he never says no.
“Do what you want, do what you want,” he said.
So, I did what I wanted.
Of course, now he loves the carpet. He drags his big, bare, gross feet through it.
“Stop rubbing your gross feet in my new carpet.” I tell him.
I never thought I would love carpeting over hardwood floors, but in the bedrooms I love it.
The dogs are not allowed upstairs, beyond the kitchen. The rules are that they can be in the kitchen or in the basement. The baby gate is set up at the kitchen and dining room doorway. Even so, just after we had the carpets laid down our little silver Lab, Grayson, got through the gate, went right upstairs, and peed on my new carpet.
No dogs upstairs – no Grayson.
Every once in a while we let them into the living room. That’s why there are always blankets on our sectional. We let the dogs jump on it so they can sit and snuggle with us.
Only Nookie, our Husky, is not a snuggler. He’ll cuddle for ten minutes and then he’s done with you.
There’s another living room in the basement. There’s a television, bistro table, and another sectional. All the dog food and water bowls are in the basement, too. Baby always sleeps on his dog bed, but the others lay out on the couch.
The couch is completely chewed up, completely. They paw it and dig in it when they are settling in. I don’t know what the digging thing is all about, but it’s their couch. They can do what they want, destroy it if they want. Only, when it’s completely gone, it’s gone. They’re not getting another one.
The biggest trouble is Pebbles. Fat Pebbles. She’s the one who truly wrecked the sofa. She’s my digger. She’s the reason we used to have a whole living room in the basement until it all got chewed up.
Even though I’ve decided they aren’t getting any more sectionals, no more couches, or anything in the basement, Christmas is ridiculous at our house.
Brian and I buy the dogs tons of gifts. I start buying presents for them for the next year right after Christmas when everything’s discounted. Around the end of August I start buying dog treats whenever I see them on sale. It’s not good if I buy them any earlier than August. Brian finds them and gives them to the dogs. So, I always start that later in the year.
The dogs get stockings full of toys on Christmas Day. Then the mess starts.
The toys are in stockings stuffed with stuffing, just like pillow stuffing. The dogs take their stockings outside and tear them apart to get at the squeakers inside them. By the end of Christmas week I’ve got a backyard full of puffs of white stuffing stuck in the ice.
It looks like a hillbilly backyard until I can finally get out there when winter is changing to spring and chip it out of the melting ice. I don’t like that it looks so hillbillyish all winter long, but what can you do?
Thank God we have a privacy fence on all three sides of the backyard.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus