Friday, May 18, 2012

And Then There Were Two

In my last post, we established that years ago, in order to provide Dad with some companionship (and apparently to give Dad a chance to carry on conversations in which he is always right) Mom got him a dog.

We've established that this dog and I did not immediately become best friends. True, P.B. mellowed over the years. Not much, but enough that we can now attribute her insane barking and need to be within three inches of my face at all times to what I like to believe is her dementia rather than puppy ignorance. (Seriously, how does a dog sense the person who dislikes them most and then make it a personal mission to permanently attach themselves like an insane groupie to that person's side? Is it just to annoy me? Is it that she hopes that proximity will earn her my affection? Nah, gotta be the thing where she does it just to annoy me.)

Dad has become even more deeply attached to this dog, which honestly, we did not believe was even possible. I personally believe the only thing that has pulled him through a few of his health scares is his belief that we won't love P.B. enough in his absence, and she will be sad, so he'd better stick around.

In my defense, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I sense huge therapy bills in the future for certain nieces and nephews of mine who may never recover from being greeted and herded by an animal larger than they are, which barks at decibels the kids shouldn't be hearing until they discover whatever horrifying music arrives to define their teen years. This doesn't include Son, of course. Oh no. He loves to go roughhouse with P.B. And then pass out from the handful of Benadryl he needs if he spends more than a few minutes with her.

Still, everyone had kind of settled into a resigned acceptance. Mom has Dad. Dad has a dog. We have Mom and Dad. Breaking them up would be like breaking up the Beatles and nobody wants to be the Yoko Ono of the family.

And then, P.B. started getting sick. Super sick. As in, "Get her affairs in order, say your goodbyes" kind of sick.

Mom was more torn than I have ever seen her. Obviously she couldn't make P.B. live forever, she admitted before looking up hopefully, and asking "Can I?" No, Mom. Even you can't bestow immortality on a dog, she was told.

And so a plan a formed. Let's get Dad another dog. Before anything happens to P.B. we'll get him attached to a new dog and that way when P.B. eventually, uh, departs and goes off to the big farm to chase real sheep and be very, very happy, Dad will survive the loss because he still has something to love and care for. You know, in addition to his wife and children. Ahem. (Dad, if you're reading this, I swear, I'm not hoping for that day to come. And I'm certainly not trying to hasten that day's arrival. Honest. Because that would be wrong.)

Well, the only way Mom could put this plan in motion was to tell Dad he could choose the new dog. And I'm pretty sure that's when things went irrevocably awry. She was thinking something along the lines of a West Highland White Terrier. You know. Something she could fit in her purse.

She spent hours on-line researching dogs and different breeds and how to train them and what kind of dogs would be less likely to eat her grandchildren. And then, after considerable discussion, I was asked to drive them one day to pick up their new dog. Their new Shetland Sheepdog puppy. Oh that's right. You heard me. Now they're up to TWO of these hounds.

And that number could stay at two for awhile, because guess what? P.B. recovered.

Mom works full-time. And Dad doesn't quite get the how-to-train-the-dogs-so-people-don't-hate them thing. Which means the whole herding, barking, shedding circus fun has been doubled! Although we've discovered these dogs are almost entirely all bark and not much bite. P.B. doesn't really bite; she just fakes it. But L.C. has been known to get a bit carried away with her attempt at appearing as a fierce, scary, threatening-in-some-way dog.

Because she's totally not. One windy day, the back door blew open and a small dog, probably about 10 pounds, if that, wandered into the house. Instant mayhem. I hear banshee-like screeching and snarling and, most disturbingly, Dad yelling, "Oh no! Oh no!" Knowing there was no way I'd get out of there with all limbs intact, and equally certain that I'd forever be "The Bad Daughter Who Let Dad Get Eaten By Dogs" if I did try to escape through the front door, I headed for the front door. Then, remembering that the front door is a bit difficult to open, and thus deciding I could probably be brave enough to face down whatever was going on in the kitchen, I headed back.

And that's where I found Dad and both dogs huddled, and trembling in the corner (although Dad was probably trembling more out of sympathy for his dogs than anything, oh, and I'm sure he was also protecting them. Or something.) while the little, tiny, intruder yapped at them. I shooed the pup out of the house and boy, the second that door was securely closed did my parents' dogs ever spring into protective action. I know I sleep more soundly at night knowing my parents have two such protective dogs. Well, at least the barking should wake them in time.

Some plans are good. Some plans, well, aren't. Hopefully we learn from the not-so-great plans. Because Dad's kind of getting along in years. His health is not what it once was. And there is no way I'm bringing in a younger, healthier man for Mom, so she won't be so sad when Dad, uh, joins his dogs on the big farm. 

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