Saturday, March 03, 2007

Trading Pooches

If you visit here often, you know I share my home with two big dogs. Both of them are getting old, as I am, and mostly we like to do quiet things. Butch, my blind, mixed-breed male is the one pictured here on the sofa, his upper lip succumbing to gravitational forces and his tail tucked protectively over his private parts. Kadi is the Yellow Lab shown sleeping contentedly on the floor (at least she was sleeping until I made intrusive camera noises). I love these dogs almost as much as I love my kids and grandkids.

You might also know, if you've been here before, that I have two daughters, each of whom also has two dogs. My older daughter, Kim, is a beadmaker. She brings her dogs with her to my house five or six days a week because her glass studio is set up in my backyard shed. Winston is her little male Yorkie, shown here in the driver's seat, and Lucy is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel stretched out tall to keep a lookout. Kim loves her dogs as much as I love mine.

Most evenings Kim waits here until her beads are ready to come out of the kiln. We often eat dinner together, almost always in front of the TV, and then it's playtime with all four dogs. I love Kim's dogs and she loves mine, but, to be honest, each of us is partial to her own set of dogs. I look forward to time at the end of the day with just Butch and Kadi, time for snuggles and belly-rubs before bedtime. Kim, naturally, prefers the company of her own two pups and can't wait to get them home and get some cuddles as they all settle in for the night.

Since each of us humans likes our own dogs best, you might think the dogs would have a similar affinity for their respective mistresses. Not so. Two of our four dogs seem quite willing to make a swap.

There are patterns to our routines, patterns the dogs know better than we do. When Kim gets ready to go home, there are certain things she does, in a certain order, that set off an unwavering chain of events.

Butch pretty much doesn't stop whatever he's doing. He's alert, and we know he's paying attention, but it's no big deal. Kim's going, she's taking the pups, they'll be back tomorrow, whatever. Butch is content.

So is Lucy. She trots with her mom to the table where the leashes are kept. She waits patiently to have hers hooked to her collar, then wraps herself and the leash around Kim's legs two or three times in her haste to leave. It's time to go, what's taking so long? Let's get this show on the road.

Kadi -- my sweet Kadi whose big yellow head is allowed to rest on my pillow -- also follows Kim to the table where the leashes are. And every single night, she pants, she barks, she tap dances from the living room to the den and back again to dance in place, right under Kim's feet, tappity-tappity-tap, woof, woof. She stares into Kim's face with raw eagerness in her eyes. Oh, please, please, please, get my leash, please, please, take me just this one time, oh, please, please, I'll be good, just let me go with you, oh, please, please, puhleeeeeeeeeeeze!

Kadi's nightly betrayal would hurt my feelings if Kim's little Winston didn't show the same kind of disloyalty to her. In fact, if we were handing out Infidelity Awards, Winston would win in both the comedy and drama categories.

Winston is a young dog. He can be leaping and bouncing with reckless abandon -- playing tug-of-war with Lucy as if he'd just consumed large quantities of sugar and caffeine -- but the instant he senses it's time to go home, he shrinks inward, trying to make himself disappear. He flattens himself and slinks along the edges of the furniture, then jumps onto the sofa and tucks himself into the crevice where my thigh meets the sofa cushion. If there isn't time to make the leap to the sofa, he hides behind my feet. Wherever he holes up, he peeks out cautiously and watches. He conceals himself in the same places night after night and still holds out hope that his mom won't find him. When she does (after we play the "where's-Winston?-I-don't-know" game for our own amusement), Kim snaps his leash to his collar and he flops flaccidly to the floor. Urged to stand, he refuses to walk and has to be dragged the first few inches. When he decides to move on his own, he assumes the body posture of an old, old man, head down, shoulders hunched, poor and dejected, without a friend in the world. I don't wanna go home. I'm too tired. I was sooo comfortable, and I don't like to ride in the car. It's too much trouble. Just leave me here, okay? You and Lucy go on without me. I'll be fine, and I'll see you tomorrow. Awwwwwwww, no, no, no! I can't believe you're making me do this. Life is soooo hard.

Fortunately, after we've dashed Kadi's and Winston's dreams once again, it's easy to win back the kind of affection a dog should have for its designated person. All it ever takes is one rawhide chew.


  1. Velvet, this is a very interesting essay. But I think some sleepovers are in order, don't you?

  2. Velvet, You guys should swap for one night and see what happens. I bet both Kadi and Winston would be whining for home come bedtime!

    What a darling story!

  3. Haven't posted in eons Velvet! I am such a sap for animals! How can I not be with 4 dogs of my own! Too cute! Hope all is well in every other aspect of your life!


  4. That's a story that brought a smile to my face! I can imagine the scenario. Dogs are cheap entertainment, aren't they? Bless 'em.

  5. What is not to love about our dogs? What a great story. I would be so lost without my Ruger buddy. He's loyal to me until someone says "go"...then he's loyal to whoever is "going".

  6. Thanks for this "laugh out loud" story.!
    Can't wait to read it to the grandkids!


  7. Yea! Dog photos and stories. I love your dogs. Always, they get a smile from me. :-)

  8. We love dogs like you. It is different having a Kennel. But with each we take a responsibility that is of a parent type and want them to go where they will be loved and special as are yours and your daughter's dogs.
    Renfroes of Galla Creek Kennel

  9. Annie and Holly, Kim and her pooches sleep over here sometimes, but we've never actually traded dogs for the night. Kadi is (to a limited degree) Butch's seeing-eye-dog. He mostly does fine by himself, but if he finds something interesting way back in the dark corners by the fenceline at night, where I can't see him and I can't yell (because it's too late and would disturb the neighbors), I tell Kadi "go get your brother," and she runs out and hurries him up. If I swapped her for Winston, I'd be out there in my bathrobe in the mud trying to hurry up two dogs.

    Debi, it's good to hear from you. Email me when you have time and let me know how you've been.

    Janet, it never ceases to amaze me how unique their individual personalities are. They crack me up!

    Kat, Ruger may like to go, but I'm sure he always intends to come back home to you. After all, you do have that very attractive cat.

    Cyotteeflower, I'm glad you had a good laugh.

    Alison (D.I.), right back atcha! I love it when you write about Cheyenne.

    Sister-Three, I never gave it much thought, but you do have a big responsibility finding good homes for the pups from your kennels. How do you decide whether or not somebody will be a good pet owner?


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