One of the great joys of retirement is having meaningful companionship to share your life with. No, I’m not talking about my wife. I’m talking about my little dog Zoey.
However, before any of you ladies take offense at such a harsh statement, let me state, unconditionally, that my wife feels the exact same way about her cat.
But today we are going to focus exclusively on the dog. She pees, she poops, she gets into constant mischief, terrorizes squirrels, and she is unbearably cute. That is a complete, in-depth, description of our Zoey. She is a two-year-old West Highland Terrier mix who creates unbridled joy in our home every day – depending on which one of us you ask.
At only seven pounds, she is smaller than our cat who refuses, in typical feline fashion, to acknowledge Zoey’s existence. Although the dog would love to have a best friend, there is zero chance it will happen.
The only occasion the cat has ever interacted with Zoey was the one time when, after enduring several minutes of futile canine efforts to “play”, she could take no more and abruptly brought the fun to a sudden halt by smacking the dog on the nose. While not physically hurt, little Zoey was stunned that her super adorable efforts to engage her sister were dismissed with heartless violence.
But after pouting for a brief time, Zoey forgave her sister and, much to the chagrin of the cat, redoubled her efforts to pester the feline into friendship. That unsuccessful struggle continues to this day.
However, the real focus of Zoey’s existence, her very reason for living, is the abundance of squirrels who live in the trees in our backyard. In her mind, she is seven pounds of sheer terror and those squirrels better understand that she means business. Being a Terrier, Zoey is convinced she is a fierce beast, who should be feared by all living creatures who are foolish enough to set foot in her territory.
On the other hand, the squirrels could not care less. In fact, they toy with her, daring Zoey to try to catch them. Although she is fast and can jump startling distances, the squirrels effortlessly evade her attempts at capture. As Zoey’s frustration grows, the enjoyment of the squirrels increases, and they often sit on the lower branches taunting her as she makes repeated hopeless attempts to climb the tree with her stubby four-inch legs.
It is a sad spectacle.
But each morning, the sun comes up and the battle resumes with renewed vigor as the eternal hope of victory spurs our furry warrior into fits of rage and indignation that can only be satisfied by the conquest of the evil that lurks high in the mighty pin oak in the corner of the yard.
Now……let’s return to the subject of peeing and pooping. (I know, it’s everyone’s favorite topic.) There is a mysterious meteorological connection between a dog’s need to relieve themselves and inclement weather. Simply put, when you are walking a dog, the worse the weather, the longer it takes them to find “the spot” to do their business.
That is because it cannot be just any spot. It has to be the perfect spot which requires a long extensive search, copious amounts of sniffing, many false starts and changes of heart until finally the exact patch of grass, the most sacred patch of all, surpassing all other surfaces on the face of the earth is located, checked for who knows what and is deemed worthy of a deposit.
As I stand shaking in a driving, bone-chilling rain, while being buffeted with 40 mph wind gusts, Zoey painstakingly conducts her search in an ever-widening area that requires meticulous concentration which allows her to block out my desperate pleas of “For the love of God, just do it!!”
When, after what seems like an eternity, the deed is finally done, I let her back inside where she escapes before I can use a towel to dry her feet.
As the chase begins, (something that Zoey perceives as great fun) tiny muddy footprints suddenly cover the sofa, and then a stuffed chair and then, because I’m old and I lag far behind in my effort to corral her, she heads down the hall at full speed and succeeds in jumping on the bed with her muddy feet. A bed that is covered with one of my wife’s beautiful handmade quilts. I will stop the story here and let you use your imagination to envision my lovely bride’s reaction.
That reaction is based in part on the fact that my spouse is a devout cat person, and she makes no apologies for it. I think it’s fairly obvious to any discriminating animal person that the entire world is split into dog and cat people. That makes us a house divided.
Fortunately, Miss Zoey is blissfully unaware that my wife loves the cat and only tolerates her. But that does not keep our little dog from loving her momma– particularly her socks. Much to my wife’s consternation, Zoey’s two favorite things in the world to chew on are her socks and cardboard. (Think toilet paper rolls.)
Sadly, the socks are reaching their demise at a breathtaking rate. We constantly find them hidden in various places around the house, and I must admit it is quite startling in the early morning darkness to step barefoot on a soggy chewed up sock.
Of course, dogs will chew on anything because they will eat almost anything. Recently Zoey got into the trash and ate a moldy hamburger bun. I saw her snatch it, and I made a pitiful attempt to keep her from eating the basic ingredient in penicillin, but she possesses an uncanny ability to run at full speed while gobbling food even while being pursued by an old man who couldn’t have caught her on his best day forty years ago. As she scarfed down the last few crumbs, I sadly realized the countdown clock was ticking.
Several hours later, her little tummy began to rumble and then……well, let’s just say that what happened was, in a word – gruesome.
But no matter how much trouble our little dog gets into, she is quickly forgiven because of her deep capacity for snuggling. She enjoys nothing more in life than laying across your chest while you nap, and it is impossible to stay mad at a little creature who just wants to be as close to you as possible.
However, on the rare occasion when Zoey actually does misbehave or otherwise displeases us, I have a fallback position I can use to defend her – and myself. I simply look at my wife and truthfully say, “It was your idea to get a dog.” Of course, exactly how much longer that tactic will remain effective is difficult to predict.
But I intend to run with it for as long as I can.