Chapter 27

All my dogs are friendly, sometimes too friendly. I can let anybody in the house, and they are going to rush you with excitement. They are going to jump on you and hug you. Baby, who is our full-grown Leonberger, accidentally punched my girlfriend and me in the face trying to hug us. I had a cut on my nose. She got a bad bruise.

When my cousin from Jersey Shore was in town for Thanksgiving, and we were all over my mom’s house for dinner, he asked about coming to our house for a visit.

“You’re allergic to dog hair,” I said.

“That’s OK,” he said.

“How do you want to meet the dogs?” I asked. “One by one, or do you want the bum’s rush?”

“I’ll do the bum’s rush,” he said

He got the bum’s rush.

All five of our dogs were in the kitchen when we stepped into the house. None of them are small dogs. They could hear a different voice at the door, so they got wound up. Somebody new!

The second I let them out of the kitchen they were all over him, all over the couch, pillows everywhere, and all over him again. It was like balloons had dropped and the party had started.

“You asked for it,” I said.

“I love it,” he said.

I had to work Saturday after Thanksgiving. My cousin messed with the dogs all day.

“They got down on the floor with me,” he said. “Except the Husky.”

Nanook is our Husky. He’s my alpha dog. He’s the leader of the pack. He’s not going to snuggle. Our two big babies, Grayson and Veruka, come into the kitchen and start to kiss. Nanook will sit and disapprove. He did the same thing when Boy Boy and Pebbles used to kiss, making low sounds, scowling, being the Godfather.

It’s all talk, though.

Most dogs are their own dogs, their own people. They’ve got personality. Veruka and Baby are our two Leonbergers. Baby is the bigger, older dog, but Veruka is a monster next to Baby. Baby is the sweetest thing ever in this world.

I always have to correct Veruka. I never have to correct Baby. Veruka is teaching Baby some bad tricks, too, which I don’t like.

Veruka ate my wallet and everything in it, my medical card, my bank card, our checks, my tip money. We had to go to the backyard, the stone area, where she takes all her captives. Whenever we give her anything she goes there and starts chewing. We found some dollars, a twenty, and my checks. I found my wallet, but it was all over for it. I just threw it out. But, before I did, I showed it to Veruka.

“Who did this? Did you do it?”

She gave me her look. “Yeah, I did that.” If I tell Grayson he’s a punk, he’ll run downstairs and put himself in his cage. If I show Baby something, anything, he’s done wrong, he throws himself on the floor and is crying. You can almost see him blushing and turning red.

Veruka just does not care.

Nanook doesn’t like to associate with the other dogs or vie for my attention. When I come home from work, I have to let him out on the porch, which means, in dog talk, you come out the back door by yourself and keep it closed so the other dogs can’t come out. You give me some one-on-one.

That’s what I have to do. The second I do, he’s happy and comes right back into the house. That’s his personality.

Pebbles is my whore. She loves to be on the couch, lay on you, snuggle, and just be fat Pebbles. She doesn’t care what you do to her as long as she can lay in your lap, nibble on your fingers, and be fat. She loves her food. When we are ready to give the dogs their treats, she shakes her ass and chatters her teeth.

Grayson, our Lab, is special needs. He was in the hospital for months, has a bad hip, and big fat feet. He’s the sweetest dog, but even though he’s only a third the size of Baby, he can take Baby down. He is a strong dog.

He likes to do the window trick, which is jump on our bed, wait for me to open the upstairs window, and stick his body out as far as he can to look around the street. One day Nanook got away from me and ran around the roof. Grayson did the same thing but slid down the roof when he saw a squirrel go by on the telephone pole.

Dogs get their personalities just like we do, from God, when they’re created in the womb. There’s no such thing as bad dog, although some people train their dogs to be mean.

Even though they’re all grown up, it’s Puppy Wrestlemania 24/7 with our dogs. One day they were all on the back porch, all screaming. King of the Back Porch. I thought they were going to come in through the windows. They wouldn’t stop, flying from one end of the porch to the other.

I opened the back door.

“Party’s over kids. No more screaming.” They all came in when I told them the party was over, except for Nanook. He had to get in one last howl.

When I opened the door for him, he ran away. When I shut the door, he ran up to it. When I took one step out of the door, like I was going to go get him, he lay down on the ground.

Nanook doesn’t know I’m the boss. He thinks Brian is the boss. Maybe he’s right.

One evening after work my dogs started wrestling in the kitchen, all of them, all five of them. It was Puppy Wrestlemania. I yelled at them. Brian wasn’t home. Not one of them stopped.

Brian is like a dog trainer. He’s got that calmness. Whatever he says they listen to. Me, they could care less. Brian whistles and they do what he is whistling for them to do.

Brian and I were fighting, going at it, when he said, “My opinion just doesn’t matter.”

“Alright, I respect that statement.” He looked at me. “Honey how do you like my hair, long or short?” I asked him.

“I don’t know, whatever you do with it.”

“Do you like my hair dark or light?”

“I like it when you mix it up.”

“Curly or straight?”

“Surprise me.”

“That is why I have no time for your non-opinions.”

Suddenly, he whistled at me.

“Are you kidding? Did you just dog whistle me?”

“Yeah,” he said.

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