|Daddy's Little Huntress|
Peggy is an arachnophobe, so there is hardly a day that goes by but what I don't have a new opportunity to display manly gallantry by facing down spiders while she screams, "Don't let it get away!" and then, "It's going to get away!" When it doesn't get away, she implores, "Are you sure you killed it?" followed by, "Is it really dead?" followed by, "Are you sure it's really dead?" Because I deny her the indulgence of getting me out of bed to kill spiders, she is forced to either do the job herself or to enlist the help of our ferocious huntress, Scully. Scully is SO ferocious that she'll throw her whole body at a gnat. She's a cat possessed, and regularly leaves the boys standing back with their eyes wide and their ears back as if to say, "We're all crazy about killing things, but this chick's SCARY CRAZY!"
Last week, Peggy woke up first, and found the kitchen occupied by a spider that, in her eyes, was the size of a small grizzly. She implored Scully to kill it, and Scully said, "No problem, but I'd like to bob for it first, and proceeded to drop the spider into her water bowl. After she had batted it around for awhile, the spider finally succeeded in climbing upon Scully's nose whereupon Scully slung her head from side to side and sent the spider flying. Because it was too soggy and discouraged to "play," Scully then gobbled it down.
|It takes a man to do this to a cat|
When we lived in the country, we had a little black schnauzer named Wendy. Sometimes when she was asleep on the porch, I would sneak off into the woods and call her name. Because I had thinned the trees, I could see her from quite a distance as she jumped up excitedly and started searching for my track. After she found it, it was a small matter for her to come to the tree I was in, but once there, she NEVER thought to look up, but would instead go round and round the tree trying to figure out where I went next. She would eventually give up, and not knowing what else to do, follow my scent all the way back to the house and start out again. When that didn't work, she would do sweeps that took in several acres. Eventually, I would sneak down from the tree, and we would share a joyous reunion.
The older Wendy got, the more she went from being submissive to standing up for for what she considered her rights. For example, she would balk at giving up her seat next to me in the car. The day came when Wendy completely refused to give her seat, even to Peggy. When a human tried to get in anyway, Wendy would push against him or her with all thirteen pounds of her schnauzerly might. I mostly left it up to my passenger to deal with the situation, but when a man whom I had just met asked if he should sit in the back, I made her move, although I believe that, in most situations, non-humans should be shown the same consideration as humans.
In Mississippi, we lived fifty miles from Peggy's parents (her father had by then retired from the Air Force), and would often go up and spend the night. They didn't want dogs in their house, and I didn't go anywhere without my dog. In summer, I felt good about making Wendy a bed on their patio because flea season in Mississippi is no joke. However, Wendy would have been miserable outdoors on a mild night in winter, and her very life would have been endangered on a cold night in winter, so Peggy's parents grudgingly agreed to let her stay in the laundry room. She interpreted her confinement as punishment, and remained in a state of near frantic despondency through every visit. If I had it to do over, I would have given my inlaws a choice between either allowing Wendy into the den--which opened into the laundry room--or of Peggy visiting them alone.
Later on when we lived in Minneapolis, I dutifully put Wendy's coat on and took her for a walk everyday in winter although she so hated going that she would run up to the front door of every house we passed hoping someone would let her in. If I had that to do over, I would only take her walking on windless, sunny days.
Despite the fact that Peggy has since come to adore cats, she used to be a self-proclaimed cat-hater, and was even plagued by dreams of being pursued by demonic cats. One rainy wintry day, a wet, shivering, and hungry mother cat came to Peggy in distress (during her cat hating period, cats regularly sought Peggy's companionship). I don't remember the details, but suffice it to say that, "cat-hater" though she was, Peggy did what she could to help that cat and her kittens. If Peggy had said, "I'm not going to help that cat because I hate cats," I would have wondered how this woman who I married all those many years ago could have been heartless all along without me knowing it.
|Wendy and me|
Wendy loved Peggy, but she only felt secure with me. One day, I left her and Peggy at a friend's home while I drove to the store. On my way back, I met Wendy walking up the road looking for me. A few months earlier, she had done the same thing when I left her with some other friends, but Peggy hadn't been there that time. Despite her devotion to me, if I--or anyone else--tried to pet Wendy, she would move just out of reach and lie back down. I had imagined that the only dogs that avoided the touch of humans were dogs who were afraid of humans, but Wendy wasn't afraid of people (cats were another story). That said, she took a long time to become friends with people despite the considerable effort that a lot of them made to hurry her along.
|Bonnie. Soft name. Hard dog.|
The woman looked at me like I didn't know much about dogs (she had probably heard the saying about a dog not biting the hand that feeds it), so she got a piece of bologna and tore it into small pieces, which Bonnie happily took one at a time from her hand. When the meat was all gone, the woman slowly reached out her fingers in the direction of Bonnie's head, and I could hear Bonnie's teeth clacking together a millimeter short of the rapidly retreating hand that fed her. That woman looked as if she couldn't believe what had just happened, but no one could win Bonnie over that easily, although she was extraordinarily loving around people she liked. I've had many dogs over the years, and I always told myself that I wouldn't keep a dog that would bite, but not only would Bonnie bite, she would bite me, yet if I ever adored a dog, Bonnie was that dog, partly because she had a pronounced sense of dignity and a pronounced intelligence to go with it. More about her later.