Friday, May 11, 2012

The Hound of Hell

This was actually written a few years ago. The saga continues. Part 2 Coming up.

Several years ago, Mom decided to get Dad a dog. He was home alone all day and she thought a nice little dog might give Dad some companionship. So off they went to the pet store, returning with a little dog whom they named "Little Dog." (And my brothers and I all breathed sighs of relief that we weren't saddled with names like "Baby Boy" or "Baby Girl".)

Sadly, not long after, Mom and Dad learned that Little Dog had come from a puppy mill and had health problems that could not be resolved and they had to have the dog euthanized. Dad was devastated but Mom promised he could pick out a new dog. She had something in mind like a terrier or a shitzu. Something small, which she'd no doubt dub "Even Littler Dog". Dad, however, fell in love immediately with a Shetland Sheepdog. As a puppy this dog was about the size Mom had hoped to have in the first place and though she had her doubts, in the end, Mom took pity on Dad who was still mourning the loss of Little Dog and they adopted the sheepdog.

They call the new creature P.B. (Which is not her full name, but even for that much I do have to give them points for creativity.) I call her "Patricia" mostly or "Patty" because calling someone by the wrong name is considered an insult in most cultures and I'm hoping this is something which holds true in dog culture as well. We have a love/hate relationship. She loves to do things that make me hate her. I'm certain it's deliberate, though Mom swears I'm just being mean. And I'm pretty sure P.B. laughs at me as soon as Mom leaves the room. I tend to view P.B. as the the daughter my parents have always loved best. Seriously, they refer to her as my sister.  And I am responding in what I recognize is an unkind and juvenile manner. I have tried to be nicer because I paid attention to that last lecture about how not loving their dog is the same as insulting one of their children. (And really, one would think that having their children insult each other is something they'd be used to by now, but moving on...) Also, my brothers have never pounced on me, slobbered on me (well not recently) shed their hair all over me when I'm thoughtless enough to wear black. Nor do they bark constantly for no apparent reason.

 This is a sheepdog who believes herself to be, and is in fact treated as a pampered lapdog. This presents a few complications. The herding thing, for example. She was bred to herd. She would have been superb at this. I have begged my parents to buy a few sheep for P.B. to chase, but perhaps it's better they don't. Dad would likely insist on keeping those inside as well.

 No one in that house is allowed to stand without P.B. hurling herself against their legs and going into complete hysteria until the person either takes a seat or somehow escapes the house. (Note: Mom has been working with P.B. and around Mom, the dog behaves. Mom's the disciplinarian. Dad's the one who breaks the rules, gives unwarranted, unlimited treats and lets the dog do whatever she wants. It's pretty much the way they raised us.)

There aren't words to adequately describe how much Dad loves this beast. It is a deep and devoted-beyond-reason-to-the-point-of-utter-insanity kind of love. Huh. Maybe there are words.

But basically, the dog is loud. And she sheds. And there's the whole herding thing. Plus? She's HUGE. When she sits on my little mother's lap, Mom nearly disappears.

And so, while my mother is also deeply devoted to the dog, she still really wants "a little dog," which of course she won't be able to have as long as P.B. is around because P.B. would either herd it to death or eat it. But a couple of weeks ago we had the following conversation about a TV program she'd watched:

Mom: It was so cool! They're making these new dogs and they aren't like all those scrawny little dogs that are nothing but hair and feel all skeletal when you pick them up. These are strong and sturdy little dogs.

Me: They're making dogs? Like in a factory? On an assembly line?

Mom: Actually that's a puppy mill and puppy mills are horrible. Do you remember Little Dog? DO YOU? You know what I mean. They're cross-breeding these dogs and anyway they're really cute and really sturdy because they make them out of real dogs!

Me: "They make them out of real dogs." What exactly are the real dogs made out of?

Mom: Um...meat!

Me: Meat. So can we start calling the dog "Meat Patty"?

Mom: You'd better not let your father hear you say that.

Fine. I won't let my dad hear me. But I saw the longing on my mother's face as she talked about how one day, after P.B.'s gone, she wants to get a small, sturdy dog.

I'm not making accusations here, but the next time we go to their house for dinner, I'm only eating salad.

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