Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Puppy Tales

In the spirit of offering a little more on the founding of our pack (following my March 16th post), I offer a few choice puppy tales…

I named my new puppy Max. I figured a guy with a poofy hair-do and curls needed a macho, manly name.

I raved about Max and Portuguese Water Dogs to my friends. They’re smart, they don’t shed, they’re good natured, they’re funny! And -- they’re eager to please! The response?

Wow… you should marry him!

Max grew -- and so did his tail. It got to be a good 7 or 8 inches long and he wagged it with ever greater enthusiasm. It dragged half his butt along for the ride. One day, it caught his attention. He chased it round and round till he finally caught it. He gave it a good, strong tug (Take THAT you fiend!) and pulled his hind feet right out from under him.

I woke one morning to a loud crashing noise. The bed shook and I heard something heavy tumble to the floor like a sack of potatoes. He’d already tried to wake me once that morning and I’d mumbled, No, Max. Not yet. I’d rolled away from the wet nose poking over the edge of my bed. But now, having felt the whole bed rattle, I raised my head, opened my eyes, and looked out. He had tried to jump up onto the bed -- and missed. He lay there legs splayed out over the floor like a pinwheel. Unphased, undaunted, he looked up at me, eagerly thumping his tail. Wanna play?? It was 6am.

Once I was up, he followed me everywhere. He perched on the edge of the tub each morning, poked his head round the curtain, and lapped at the shower spray. Washed and ready with Max fed, walked, and watered, I settled in at my desk to get the day‘s work done. Max snoozed but then awoke and wanted attention.

He’d sit quietly by the gate gazing up at me with an expectant look, wagging his tail as if to say, I'm ready to play now! One day he pulled all the toys out of his crate, climbed in and sat there, waiting for me to notice. When I cracked up, he realized it was an excellent ploy and used it whenever he could.

It was hard to ignore his eyes boring into my back. If it was early in the day and I had more work to do, I tried hard not to meet his gaze, to avoid body language of any kind that offered the slightest encouragement. He’d exit and try again. (Maybe she just missed me that time...) He’d stroll away and return, sitting once more at attention. Nothing? He’d try a quiet, low Mmmmm... (Pardon me... Over here!) Still nothing? He’d try a second, slightly louder Mmmmmmm. (Yoo-hooo! I’m WAY…. ting!) If more decisive communication was called for, he’d call: Rrrrr-uppp! (HEY THERE! Let's PLAY!!)

One day, as I sat frozen, eyes glued to my computer screen, trapped by my dog, afraid to move, I thought: This is ridiculous. I'm spoiling this dog. Just that day I'd shared the rest of my lunch with him: vegetable soup with broccoli, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Suddenly, a low, quick stuttered shot of air fired behind me, interrupting my thoughts. I wheeled round and looked at Max in surprise, scarcely able to believe my dog just …. farted? Apparently Max couldn’t believe it either. He was jumping about in a state of confusion, circling and sniffing the spot where he’d been seated moments before. Where is it? Where is it?! He stopped his investigation, looked up at me, and searched my face for answers. Did you see that? Did YOU see that?! Something just BIT me!! I cracked up. No more vegetable soup for you, dude!

His tastes were all-inclusive and often, less than discriminating. One night, as I undressed for bed, he sniffed eagerly at the sweaty sock on my foot. I thought, What the hell…. let him have it. I pulled it off and tossed it high in the air. He leapt at it with gusto -- and caught it. He shook his head furiously back and forth then tossed the sock back up high in the air. It flew, then fell. He pounced! Shake, shake, shake! Wheeee! flew the sock. Thwonk! He pounced again. DIE sock! Munch, munch, munch. Mmmmm!! Yummy sock! I wriggled my nose in disgust, Oh Max! How could you? But soon I was down on the floor beside him. He shook and tossed the sock again. It landed. I grabbed it. He froze – eyes glued to the sock, body poised to strike. He pounced. But the sock jerked away. He pounced again. It danced and jerked away again. Soon, he was jumping pouncing, prancing, dancing and jousting with my sock.

My ever present companion, Max could turn the most romantic of evenings into a family affair. Late one night, stretched out on the couch with a date, neither of us noticed Max inch his way over. When the man lifted his head and opened his mouth to share a tender thought, Max appeared -- as if out of nowhere -- and licked the man on the lips. (I like you too! Can I play?)

In our first year together Max greeted me each morning, wagging his large, rudder-like tail, up, down, left, right, every which way, at crazy, odd, cock-eyed angles. He crashed, bounced, rolled, stood up, and trotted on to the next thing. He piddled and pooped on the floor, chewed his way through newspapers, recycled papers, packages, chairs, carpets, good socks, old socks and most of my laundry. He brought the mailman my bra.

For better or worse, he became an integral part of my life. We grew together, a happy pack of two.

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