Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thank God for Dogs.....

Dogs just don't get enough appreciation, in my opinion. So I'm going to dedicate this post to my two Miniature Pinschers: India and Killer....

India entered my life when she was 9 weeks old. I had driven to the place of her birth intent on adopting her brother; the only male left in the litter, but India had her own ideas......Right from the first moment I entered the kennel filled with friendly, happy-go-lucky Min-Pin puppies, India decided I was hers. She chased all her litter-mates away so I could not even touch them and then stood guard at my feet. Looking up at me with hope-filled eyes, she was determined that I take her, and not her brother. Not one to argue with Fate, I surprised everyone and chose India to be my new companion. I have never regretted that decision....

Every morning I awake to find India sprawled beside me, under the blankets but with her head beside mine on the pillow. When I stumble to the bathroom, she sits patiently outside the door, guarding it from possible intruders. Fumbling about in the kitchen to make my morning coffee, she nudges the back of my legs with her nose to remind me she's there so I won't step back and trip over her. She waits patiently for me to open the front door so she can rush outside and bark dutifully at any ghost that may be lurking about, and then quickly comes back inside.

As I carry my coffee to the desk for my morning email check, she follows along and watches as I turn on the computor and then grunts quietly to remind me of what comes next. Then follows the daily ritual of "The choosing of the chair". There are two chairs in my livingroom; a blue recliner and a black rocker with a leopard print pillow. Each day she jumps on the ottoman and then studies each chair for a moment, debating which one she wants to snuggle into for her "morning nap". I stand aside patiently, blanket in hand, and once she has made her choice she leaps from ottoman to chair and curls up in a little ball and then I cover her with the blanket. There is where she stays until I have finished my coffee and email and decide it's time for a shower.

She never follows me to the shower, but she is always there when I get out....laying on the bath mat in a position of attention, facing the door, once again watching for intruders. She reminds me of Egyptian statues of Anubis. She is my guardian.

Killer, India's runt sister from the same litter, didn't come into my household until she was already a year and a half old. A thin, wormy, 2 lbs 9 ounces compared to India's hefty 12 lbs, Killer was a pitiful sight. Suffering malnutrition; her hip bones and ribs were easily visible through skin that was half hairless and her little legs were mere sticks. She couldn't even jump up on a chair without assistance. Over-grown toenails caused her to trot in a stilted, unnatural manner. But despite her suffering, she was a loving and interactive little dog, anxious to please and always begging for love. I soon wondered if I should change her name to "Onya" because she's always got to be "on ya".

Killer stoically tolerated the process of recovery; cooperating with wormings and baths and gulping down the mashed potatos and rice I fed her along with her regular dog food, she quickly gained weight and regrew the hair she'd lost to worms. She is without a doubt, the toughest little dog I've ever met. At a pudgy 6 lbs 9 oz. she gives big sister India plenty of competition and rowdy play-time. But by age 3, her early malnutrition caught up with her and one day she curled up atop a heat vent and stayed there for nearly 8 hours until I realized she hadn't moved from that spot all day. Retained baby teeth had resulted in oral deformities and abcesses. Never even wimpering, she could not open her mouth to eat or drink. Through the generosity of a friend, Killer received the oral surgery she required, but I could not afford. When I picked her up from the Vet's, she crawled inside my shirt and stayed there for the rest of the day. Again, without so much as a complaining whine.

Killer has settled into life here with myself and India. She is such a good fit it's almost as if she were here from day one. While India and I enjoy our morning routine, Killer, who had been curled into a tiny ball behind my knees all night, stays in bed and continues to sleep....Never moving as I carefully extricate myself from the blankets so as to not disturb her. Forever worrying that I might crush her in my sleep, I always wake her before I leave for work to reassure myself she is alive. She blinks those big brown eyes at me accusingly, then wags her little stub tail in greeting before burrowing back beneath the blankets to continue her snooze.

Like clockwork, when noon time comes around, both India and Killer are energized. Certain that THIS is THEIR time, they begin to pester me for their daily walk. How they know what time it is, is a mystery to me. Even the 1 hour change of daylight savings doesn't seem to phase them. They still seem to know when it's noon. Perhaps there is some noisy ritual here in the park that I am unaware of, that tips them off to the time. I am always torn between submitting to their demands or "changing it up" from day to day so they won't be so expectant and demanding. But really, noon usually works okay for my schedule as well. But not always. But they are sure to remind me the second I walk in the door if they haven't had their walk yet. They stand beside their harnesses and leashes, ears up, little stub tails wagging frantically and make me feel like a giant poopy-head if I say no. So I usually say yes...unless it's raining or too cold outside.

The Walk-time ritual is an amusement in itself. As I drop to my knees beside their leashes they nearly burst with excitement; jumping and dancing in circles, barking in earsplitting excitement. First Killer, with her little red CAT harness (the only one small enough to fit her). I hold it out and she shoves her head through the loop, then holds up her right leg so I can push it through, then drops her head while I buckle it behind her ears. India barking instructions the whole time: Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!  Then India with her black harness that she knows perfectly well she has to wear, but still must tease me by staying just out of reach while barking and wagging her tail until I pretend to give up. Then she hops into my lap and stands quietly while I fasten it around her. Of course, Killer is now barking instructions as well.

Then out the door and down the steps as these little dynamo's nearly yank me off my feet. Yes, I do know how to teach them to heel....but truthfully, this is more fun. A lifetime "animal trainer", I decided early on that I was going to allow first India, and then Killer, to just "be who they are" and not demand more from them than that they be house-trained and not chew on my possessions. They have done their part and in return, I just let them express themselves freely.

As they run and jump and scurry and stop to investigate every object and every smell, I think we must be quite a sight at times. I frequently find myself standing sideways beside the road, arms outstretched like a scarecrow, while little munchkin dogs pull and lean with all their might, trying to go in opposite directions, only to switch places; leaving me to look like I'm hugging myself with crossed arms. Sometimes they toy with me and run around me in opposite directions, but I have learned to spin like a ballerina with arms in the air to keep them from wrapping me in their leashes. I am amazed as I watch how they first entangle and then untangle themselves and eachother, sometimes "on the run" and never missing a beat. Occasionally they find an unsuspecting field mouse or a frog and leap through the air to pounce, and then argue with eachother about who gets to carry their prey. They are quite miffed when I insist they drop it beside the road before we return home.

Like angels in disguise, these two little dogs bring so much love and joy and amusement to my life. Always happy to see me when I come home, and sorry to see me go when I leave. When I am feeling down, it is my sweet, gentle India who comforts me. When I am restless, it is Killer who entices me to play tug-o-war or "shark dog". When I become too serious about working, they conspire together to nag and pester me until I take a break and watch a movie....just so they can snuggle on my lap.

I would be lost without these two little dogs. I hug them both every day. Thank you, God, for little dogs. :)