If you read a previous column titled “Two Dogs and a Boy”, you already know part of this story. Our 41-year-old son, Seth, moved from Los Angeles back to Georgia in May. He brought two rescue pets with him, a teeny-weeny vivacious lady named Louise and a gentle laid-back mongrel named Dude.
Louise is the world’s fastest and friendliest chihuahua and has an incurable addiction to laps. It’s impossible to ignore her big brown eyes as she begs to be held. If the eye trick doesn’t work, she resorts to her irresistible spin move. She prances in a tight circle until we relent, usually after her third rotation.
Louise is fluent in Spanish, but her English is rather sketchy. Some things she understands like, “Come here – Good girl – and Suppertime,” yet she doesn’t grasp a simple “No.” If, however, we say “No! No! No! Louise!” her comprehension improves. Exclamation points apparently help overcome language barriers.
Although Jane and I strongly prefer yard dogs, we have adjusted to having our first little one in the house. We’re not setting Louise a place at the table, but I can’t say with certainty it will never happen. The things we do for our dogs sometimes seem a bit crazy. And I admit this hasn’t just started.
We had two cocker spaniels, Libby and Freckles, who were part of our family a long time ago. Our youngest child, Carrie, decided to raise purebred puppies as a business when she was twelve. I loaned her the startup money at a favorable rate of interest and took the dogs as collateral. And I quickly learned it’s best not to rely on collateral that eats or wags its tail.
The cocker spaniel market took a nosedive as soon as we got aboard. We bought high and sold low. Jane and I could hardly stop hugging the nice lady who purchased the last puppy of our second and final litter. Another week and we would have been a three-dog family. “Let’s don’t name him,” we kept reminding each other that last month we spent together.
Freckles, the proud father of the puppies, didn’t have much ambition, but he was a good-hearted fellow. I felt guilty when I dropped him off for an overnight stay at Cordele Animal Hospital. On the drive down I wondered if I should tell him about one of my favorite Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson.
Larson depicted a grinning canine with his head stuck out a car window. As his owner is pulling out of the driveway, the dog haughtily addresses his wistful next-door neighbor. “Hah, hah, hah, Biff” he says. “I’m going to the vet to get tutored.”
I told Freckles I was sorry, and I meant it. Whether he forgave me I don’t know. He shunned me for several weeks and it was months before I could get him to ride in the car again.
Libby was more animated than Freckles, loaded with energy and a bubbly personality. Although the puppy business was not a financial success, she and Freckles made wonderful pets for our children and us. Then somewhere in Libby’s senior years she began having neck issues. Rather than running to greet us, she walked slowly and kept her head close to the ground, obviously in pain.
Our local veterinarian, Dr. Cindy Greene, examined Libby and said she couldn’t help her. That sad news weighed heavily on our hearts, then things got even worse. Dr. Greene said, “But the University of Georgia or Auburn’s vet school would probably accept Libby as a patient.” I cried all the way to the bank.
Auburn had an open bed in their ICU and could guarantee Libby a luxury suite in their rehab spa. That’s how a cocker spaniel from Middle Georgia became a War Eagle. After two surgeries she was as good as new plus had an honorary degree and a student loan. The things we do for our dogs sometimes seem a bit crazy.
I’m almost out of column space and haven’t begun to share Dude’s story. Maybe we can cover him next week. He’ll be hurt if I leave him out, and Louise is likely to brag that she’s already been featured. It won’t do any good to hide the newspaper from her. She knows about the column because she sat in my lap and helped me type. The things we do for our dogs sometimes seem a bit crazy.