Tuesday, February 10, 2015
This blog is for the dog lovers out there who might know what I’m writing about. I call this affectionate behavior between a dog and his sister or his little brother and more “Little Chews.” They are like gentle little nibbles. You may even know what I mean if you have had a male dog. My theory that it’s a predominantly male dog kind of thing. Little Chews is just what I named this grooming session. It’s good to see any species take care of each other. I wish humans took as much care of each other as my dogs do to their pack.
If you have had similar encounters witnessing this display of affection, let me know. It’s probably one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. Maybe there are YouTube videos of this behavior.
Enter dog number two or three, Harold; the order depends on which sibbling came first, Harold or Maude. Harold introduced me to this strange phenomenon. Constant grooming caused his sister Maude to have a perpetual wet head. She could have filled in with one of the characters from the Spanky and his gang. I think that’s the name of that television show. Memories are dim from that far back. Buckwheat was the nickname for my First Love. Nancy. Do you ever get over that first One?
Yes, it’s going to be another one of those crazy rides, so buckle up. I suspect that I’m about to take you down quite a few rabbit holes; some may not even lead to anything.
In the Spanky show, there was one character who always had his hair standing on end. Maybe that was Spanky. Come to think of it, Dennis the Mennis had that blonde tuft perpetually parading in a different direction than the rest of the head of hair.
Out of that rabbit hole and back to the dogs grooming. I don’t know if it is a sibling thing or a male thing. I don’t remember any of my male beagles ever doing this, but we only had one dog at a time. Harold and Maude, named after my favorite movie, were my first pair. Having two to three dogs at a time has been so much fun; I can’t play like other dogs do. I try hard, but it’s just not the same. I’m also finding that by bringing in younger dogs, it helps me deal with the aging one, as we all know they age much too quickly.
Maude never groomed Harold, but Harold was constantly grooming Maude, though he did stop when she got sick. He knew a lot earlier than I did, but I’m blind when it comes to dogs aging, animals in general.
And maybe the Little Chews is a hierarchal thing. Maude was always the first in line on walks or hikes. I considered her the Alpha dog. When she was young, she looked just like a small bear. Sometimes people would be alarmed when coming around the corner and see her perhaps out of the corner of their eye. It doesn’t take them long to realize her canineness and breath a sigh of relief. She was friendly enough to be trusted off a leash. I couldn’t keep up with Maude the trailblazer; she always came back to me to make sure I was okay, and then she and Harold would take off ahead to make sure the coast was clear. These two mutts had so many breeds all rolled up into two miracles. German Shep. Chow. Artic Wolf. I know there’s more, but I can’t remember.
Most of the dogs in my life, perhaps all, have come with the purpose of guiding me through rough patches. Call it Celestial Intervention, but when I first saw Harold in a car parked near a neighbor, I knew another Angel had been sent to help me get through some more rough bumps. I’ve been blessed to have a mostly easy going life, but the slippery times weren’t so great.
I’m not sure how much time had passed between burying my first dog, Kahlua, in the back yard on Rasor Ave. and when the puppies arrived. People visiting from Montana had these still-nursing pups, the last of the litter, their favorite ones. What shocked me was that Harold looked exactly like I remembered Kahlua looking when he was a puppy. Blown away is an understatement.
My current partner can attest to my lack of planning, and this was the same when it comes to the dogs. The majority weren’t planned, though Kahlua’s adoption was probably the worse unplanned event that turned out to the be the best possible choice.
I was living in Massachusetts at the time Kahlua entered my life. Life wasn’t great. I was a lost twenty-something year old. On this particular day, I was in Rhode Island shopping with my mother-in-law, though she didn’t know that her daughter was a Lesbian at the time. At least Phyllis’s mom thought of me as one of her daughters. We got along so well. The entire family. I got a chance to bring the little bit of my Italian heritage to the surface, though recently there’s been a genealogical debate whether my Grandmother Anita was Italian after all. I will have to get back to you on that.
Anyway, we’re shopping and we pass by a young boy with a wagon full of puppies. All I could hear was, “I want, I want, I want!” I’m practically yelling at myself with desire, but there was the other voice, the rational one that countered, “That would be crazy! Are you reality insane?”
I’m ultra sensitive around that issue, so the rational side of me won that battle, but obviously not the war. I managed to walk away from the pups and do our shopping. I sort of hoped that the puppies would be gone by the time we got out. Phyllis’ mom was not fleet of foot, so everything was in slow motion. And try to shop produce with someone who has to touch and smell everything. Actually, I was very content. One of Phyllis’ nicknames for me was Dawdles because I’m always slow motioned in walking, especially the produce section. But I was feeling a bit anxious about the puppies.
Eventually I’ll make it back to the original story of little chews…
Was Kahlua the last puppy remaining in the wagon when I stepped back outside. Yes, the wagon and the boy and the sign of $25 had waited patiently. The kid probably knew a sucker when he saw one. I doubt I had that much cash on me. Tightly budgeted student I was at the time. This was my Northeastern University phase and maybe my first time being out from under my dad’s roof. Life was a struggle then.
You might have guessed that those voices of insanity were screaming at me as I asked Phyllis’ mother for a loan. Realistically, this was one of the stupidest things I could ever have done. I hadn’t asked Phyllis for starters nor thought about what would happen when the landlord found about my breaking the no pets clause. We lived in a tiny little studio apartment on the third floor in the Back Bay of Boston. There was not one whit of common sense when I brought him home. It was as if I didn’t have a choice.
Kahlua was named after my favorite drink at the time. He had all of the mixings of a White Russian. Various browns and tans mixed in with white and tan. He looked German Shepherd in face and eyebrows, but he had a lot of hair like a Collie.
I don’t remember if Kahlua ever gave me little chews, but everyone who met him commended me on what a remarkable dog I had; not sure why they attributed his good behavior to my training since he was the one being remarkable and he did it all by himself. That’s just the way he was. I’ve never had another dog since who didn’t chew anything. In fact, I think all the other dogs I’ve had since Kahlua picked up on this and have made up for what he didn’t chew. I could leave chicken bones in the garbage out in the open, and that dog would not only not get into the garbage, but would try to keep the cat from getting the bones. Currently I live with two rustlers. I’m not sure if it was Ricky or Abby that ate a loaf of bread that had been left on the kitchen counter. Things have a way of disappearing around here when there aren’t humans around.
Kahlua lived a somewhat long life. Ten’s really not that bad for a hundred pound dog, but twenty still wouldn’t have been long enough. I lost him to thyroid cancer. I tried everything that money could buy, but then it came to be his time. I saw it as the beginning of a new phase of my life and saw that this protector as going off to be a guardian to another being. Celestial Intervention knows exactly when to visit me.
The loss was still raw when the Montana born pups arrived. I can’t even begin to describe the astonishment that I felt when I saw the eye brows, the German shepherd look. The eyes. The voice of “I have to, I have to.” was strong and steady. And for the first time there wasn’t another voice trying to squelch my idea, though there was my present partner to consider. I was still just a student but the voice of reason didn’t come around. In regards to asking permission to bring home animals, I’ve not been so great about this. But it has only put a few dents into the current Twenty-Seven year relationship. Nothing worse, and you can only see the dents in certain light. I learned that my not asking would get me into hot water, but I like baths, and the water does cool eventually.
When did I realize that there were two puppies from Montana? I must have known right away. I think that when I went running into the house to tell Sylvia about the puppies in the car parked practically on our property, the internal voice was saying, “I want them, I want them. And there was a voice that knew that agreement would be immediate. And it was not the Shep looking one, but the little black fluffy female pup. She was the trump card in the deal. My partner’s dog, Caftain, a Black Labrador, hadn’t been gone that long.
As I insinuated earlier in regards to manners, Harold and Maude were horrific in the chewing department. I knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime dog with Kahlua and comparing them wouldn’t be good, but it was like going from a smooth tasting wine to sour grapes. Grapes picked too soon perhaps, but again during their long lifetimes, they proved to be one of my best choices.
Maybe in another blog, I can go into more detail on what they chewed as they chewed everything!
At least I haven’t written myself into a corner, but am actually at a great transitional place. Eventually Harold and Maude did settle down and side by side was the way they were most of their lives.
The first time Harold started grooming Maude, I heard a noise I wasn’t familiar with. Little chews involves hose breathing, so there was quite a bit of snuffling sounds as Harold worked through each black strand of fur on Maude’s head. She was in so much bliss that she hardly made a sound. Leaning her head close, she directed where the chews went, around an ear or perhaps to the other ear. I think Harold even cleaned her ears, but didn’t use the little chews.
I don’t remember what I was doing when Harold tried to do little chews on me, It was like he was using his teeth as combs or some sort of apparatus that had blades of teeth rubbing across one another. It didn’t hurt that much, but little pinches from the Little Chews wasn’t something I wanted to experience very often. I did understand that this was Harold’s terms of endearment or he was hinting that I needed a shower or something.
Enter dog number four. Once again, not planned. My partner’s cousin wanted to give us the last family puppy they would ever raise. Since the dog was like getting a piece of my partner’s family, we named the Chocolate Labrador after their most famous relative, Jules. Luckily our Jules didn’t possess the cranky disposition of his namesake, Old Jules.
Perhaps it was clear that this pup would turn into being another once-in-a lifetime dogs. Harold knew it. Harold wasn’t old at that point, but he exuded an Elder Statesman full of air character to the pup. Always after the growl to put Jules in his place, Harold would begin the Little Chews. Jules had no problem with his status. Who doesn’t like to be preened?
I should have known that something was happening to Maude when Harold started to spend more and more tie grooming Jules than Maude. I’ve heard that dogs can smell cancer.
My theory that only male dogs do Little Chews and that the ones that receive Little Chews don’t pay it forward.
Enter dog number six. Ricky was sort of a planned dog. We had already been planning on getting a pup down the road when Jules was getting towards the end of his life. Lucy was going to get her own dog, But as death often does, it snuck up on me. Jules’ death took me by surprise. He was undergoing Liver cancer surgery; the vet was confident that he could get it all, but instead I had to say goodbye to him while he was still under and on the table. This was now how I imagined our parting would be, especially since I thought he was going to be around another five years or so; he sure had a lot of spunk. I always said that his constant energy was the caffeine in the Chocolate Labrador. He was such an energetic dog that he constantly quaked; it was as if his engine was always revving. His death was a blind-sided ambush.
I hadn’t been with just one dog since my days with Kahlua. He and I were hardly ever apart, though he did have this friend of mine that he would go visit. I think Kahlua had a crush on her dog or perhaps new I had a crush on my friend. I wasn’t the only one who lost their best friend. Lovely Lucy, after all, was Jules’ dog. I don’t even have her in the formal count, though she counts just as much as the rest. But she was Jules’ dog and Jules was my dog. Lucy went wherever Jules went. She only came to me when Jules came, and then she would do her best to push Jules away. Now she’s got to compete against Ricky and Abby.
For me there have been times when grief of one being brings leftover grief from prior deaths, sending my fragile mental health into a tail spin. Grief consumed me and unless I found something, I was afraid that the tail spin was going to be my last ride. Everything was going to pot. My teaching. My life. My relationships.
My life was like the typical Chick Flick. Girl meets boy. Loses boy. gets boy back. In my case girl meets boy dog. I began to search for another to fill the open wound. I went to dog pounds. I went on the internet. I was so desperate. I needed stability.
Enter dog number what? I’ve lost track. If you feel like telling me, I’d be flattered to know that you’ve kept reading this far. Ricky was that number. And he’s not even the last to arrive.
Out of the blue, just back from a wild goose chase at a pound where I had just missed adopting a dog that would have worked, I got a call about a dog that needed an immediate foster-home. Right now kind of thing. I had never fostered before. I had never brought an adult dog into my household; the cute adorable puppy track was all I knew. There’s no arguing with Celestial Intervention. I don’t even try anymore.
When Lisa from Save The Pets brought Jules to the dome, the connection was immediate. It was almost as if Jules’ spirit had somehow touched Ricky, otherwise known as Sparky, but that had to change. I had already had a cat named Sparky. No, Ricky didn’t get the amazing intelligence or physical agility that Jules had, but his sweetness makes up for all of that.
If you are still counting, right after getting Ricky, I asked my partner if we could still go ahead with the plan to get a puppy, and that’s how Abby the Labby Number Nine came to be. I don’t think she is dog number nine; that’s just her AKC name. My pack is complete. I’m not due for another Celestial Intervention for a while.
Ricky carries the torch for a dog who does Little Chews, though he prefers to groom pieces of dismembered stuffed animals. It must have been the snuffling sound that sent me down this particular rabbit hole.