It is a Wednesday morning in January, raining outside, and I am currently listening to the sound of the dog bowls against the wood floors. It isn't as if more food is going to magically appear, but my dogs cannot fathom the idea that the food comes and goes so quickly. Dixie is standing beside Riley's feeding dish in the vain hope that he will have left something...because with all of the licking, you'd think she'd know that this is a virtual impossibility.
But every morning...same thing. The only variation is that sometimes Riley will go to Dixie's plate and lick it for awhile. Which is what is going on this morning. Still.
Sometimes life with dogs is like "Groundhog Day." They know the alarm going off on the phone means that I'm either going to get up immediately or I'm going to stay in bed. That doesn't mean that they won't do what they can to coax me out of bed...because they paw the side of the bed excitedly every morning just in case. They even seem to understand that on Saturday mornings that alarm is going off later...because they always seem to be doing exactly the same thing every morning. Dixie will be asleep on an old pillow beside my bed and Riley will be under the bed snoring.
The vet said that Riley snores because he is a shih tzu...and that he'll outgrow it as he gets older. That those cute little faces mean that there is very little room between the nose and the mouth and sometimes they "snort" until they grow into themselves. Honestly, I don't care if he outgrows it or not as long as he's healthy otherwise. Yes, he sounds a bit like a baby pig...but that's really okay with me.
Big Dave will get up to go shower and Riley will do a soft growl as a kind of "good morning!" to him. There is no love lost between Riley and Big Dave...but they don't dislike each other. Riley just chose me...and after Rebel thought that Big Dave hung the moon and stars...it is a bit of a change. Riley greets him like this just about every time he enters a room that I am in. Sometimes he barks, too. It isn't because Big Dave has ever done anything to him...he's been like this since we brought him home. It is almost as if Riley resents Big Dave for being in the big bed where I sleep and refusing to let him sleep there too.
Today I will be taking them to be "beautified" - which means that they are going to be loaded up and taken to Petco for grooming. Dixie doesn't really mind this...because she knows that she'll be able to see, and Riley is one of those dogs that just freezes when he gets stressed out. So, he's actually quite perfect to groom. He'll just stand there while they do whatever they have to do. He's actually got the best hair of any of the dogs I've owned...with the exception of Harley...and even though he looks like a white mop if I fail to brush him (which isn't often)...he normally doesn't mat and look like one of those sad little dogs in the commercials with the Sarah McLachlan soundtrack. Of course, I'm taking him today because I still get the puppy grooming price as he will be six months old on the 23rd.
Hey, in today's economy...you take whatever discounts you can get.
I think that pet ownership is a marvelous thing. Jill went another direction...to cats. Living in an apartment and having the schedule that she does...a dog just wouldn't be ideal for her. So, she rescued one cat that was being fostered (Leo) and another one from the local pound (Taylor). Cats don't really care if you are gone all day as long as they can sleep on your pillow and have enough dry food to keep them satisfied. Plus, they are easily pottytrained. To me, that pottytraining thing is the only downside to owning dogs. And sometimes, it is a big downside.
The other downside is that they don't stay with us long enough. They become part of our family and then their lifespan is far shorter than we'd like it to be. I have lost three dogs in my married life and each time a little piece of my heart went with them. I like to think that they are running with the angels and getting into mischief. When Rebel died in October, all I could think was that my sweet mother-in-law was probably going, "Rebel! What are you doing up here?" I'm sure that they are keeping each other company.
Life is richer with those sweet creatures that lick our legs when we get out of the shower to help us dry off, and sleep beside us to ward off anything that might try to harm us. That have us trained in spite of the fact that we think we have them trained. Who will sit with us silently while we cry and will always be happy to see us. Who give us puppies to love and then understand when those puppies disappear one by one until life returns to normal for them. Who look longingly outside until we let them outside...and then they whine to get back in. Who take us for walks because we need the exercise, although we believe that it is the other way around. Who sit beside us at the table hoping against hope that we will drop a piece of whatever we are eating...even if it is salad.
I know that every summer when Linda's children are here, Dixie will go and lie down near the door where they are until they get up. When they are in the pool...she is right there beside them to make sure that they are okay. Occasionally, she will get in on the top step and let them splash her. She is the guardian of any running water in this house...with the only exception being a bath that she knows is for her. I've had to devise some mighty sneaky ways to get her into the tub...because if she hears the word "bath" she vanishes into thin air.
Riley is the first dog that we've had that has been "my" dog. The others have been primarily family dogs...and they also loved the children more than they did me. Riley seems to love Brian a lot...but he is very attached to me. I usually have to make sure that he isn't somewhere under my feet before I step on him...because he normally is.
I love this, by the way.
In a few minutes, I will go to Phase II of my day...which involves doing something with my hair and trying to look presentable for work. And both of them will come with me. Dixie will catch a nap and Riley will probably go into the dirty clothes and find some underwear to chew on. It's gross...but that's how he rolls...as did all of the others before him.
I'm grateful that I have two little dogs living in this house and a cat living in the garage. It has taken years for Big Dave to tolerate having dogs in the house...but other than his ongoing tift with Riley...he understands how much it means to me. Being raised in the country meant that dogs were to remain outside...and he does draw the line on them sleeping in the bed with us or getting on the furniture.
In spite of the fact that he comes home most afternoons to find Dixie and Riley both curled up on the couch...because they can. Until he yells at them, of course.
And he totally will.
Tonight I am looking forward to curling up with my two perfectly coiffed dogs. They will be especially sweet since they will be happy that I didn't leave them at the "beautification station." At least that's how they normally are.
I'm grateful for these precious "fur babies" who are a giant pain in some ways...but who make up for it a thousand times over. They are staring at me right now because I have eggs, and they somehow believe that they are entitled to at least a bite of it.
And don't tell Big Dave...but I think that they are too.