Tuesday, January 11, 2011

And They Call it Puppy Love

I am mostly unconscious, drooling on my pillow in the middle of the day. Minding my own business, and thick with a cold I am trying to breathe through any possible vent in my face. Visions of friends and road trips are beginning to dance through my stuffed, dozing mind when out of nowhere a dog flies through the air and lands on my head.


Meet the newest member of our family: the puppy mutt named Chunk. Chunk is 8 months old. She likes to chew. She has a rather weak bladder. She digs when she is anxious. The outdoors make her anxious. The back yard makes her very anxious.

She is fortunate to look like a cross between two of our beloved who have died in the past two years. She is unfortunate to have already been named when we got her.

I consulted the Honky Tonk Dog Whisperer Whitey Morgan at a gig in Brooklyn last month about her issues. He said he would be glad to give her a lookover when the band rolled through town again. I was greatly looking forward to his advice. Whitey is an Alpha Male to the Nth degree, so I figured he would teach me a snarl and a menacing glare that would put Chunk in line and we would all live happily ever after.

Whitey and his glorious band the 78's came by last weekend. They shared a supper table with us and then rocked the house at the bar down the street. Our town has finally recognized their Honky Tonk greatness. The show was sold out and the dance floor did not empty for a single song.

But first Whitey met Chunk. Before I even had the chance to introduce them, Chunk sneak attacked Whitey's massive leg and kind of bumped off it with a stunned look. I have a personal rule not to sneak attack people with neck tattoos. Chunk has no rules and I think Whitey respects that, being a little free and untamed himself.

"Well, there she is, Whitey. What do you think?"

And that's when the Alpha Male of outlaw music in Flint, Michigan turned on me. I have a personal rule not to give giants with neck tattoos reason to turn on me. He gave me a mean stare that looked like a cross between Clint, Chuck, and the Duke.

"She's a perfect little baby!" he started to coo in an octave I didn't believe men that size could hit. Then he got down to Chunk's level and the only word I can think of is... snuggled her.

"What a good girl! Yes. You are such a pretty one, aren't you? That's a good girl."

Chunk and Whitey spent the rest of the meal together. She would sneak attack him. He would cuddle and coo. As the person who was hoping for a showdown, it was all a tad disgusting to me. They were in love. Completely in love. Love is all good and fine but anyone who has ever fallen in love with a baby knows: love don't keep the urine in the bladder, now does it?

After we finished our superb meal (that was blessedly hijacked by my best buddy and transformed from food into cuisine... bastard) Whitey began his pronouncements on Chunk.

"First of all, you can't call her Chunk. That's just gonna' give her a complex. She's a Princess. Or a Fancy. Aren't you, baby?" More cuddling on their part. More gagging on my part.

"You got yourself a fine dog here. She's gonna' be just great." Scratching behind ears. Hers. Licking on neck. His.

"I know that, Whitey. But what do I do in the carpet peeing, fence jumping, sneak attack meantime?" Chunk is teething on Whitey's huge hand. The band all start to chuckle.

"You think Whitey is gonna' help you get your dog to stop jumping the fence?" asks a man who, I kid you not, is named Stubby.

"Hahahahaha..." they all laugh together. Whitey and Chunk make more lovey faces at each other. I scowl politely in the corner because Whitey is my guest, Chunk is mighty cute, and let me reiterate: That Dude is HUGE.

Turns out the Alpha Male of Flint is a pushover for female dogs. His girl, Bella, jumps the fence at will and still gets the cooing and the loving, while his male dog gets comments like, "Angus! It's time we had a talk, boy" as he his led out of the house, tail between his legs.

Be that as it may, Whitey did have what is probably the only advice that will work.

"You're gonna have to wear her out. She's tired enough, she won't go jumping fences. That's it."

That's it?

"Just tire her out and give her plenty of love. She's a mighty fine animal. Aren't you, Princess?"

As I write this, Whitey and the 78's are back home in Michigan (and Austin, for their phenomenal fiddle player) for a break in touring. My cold has eased up. The back yard looks like a training ground for grenade throwing. The children are asleep. The dryer is doing its clack clack turning. The original dog is sleeping on the floor like a good dog does.

Meanwhile, the royal Chunk is curled up on the couch where she absolutely does not belong. I was going to move her but it is the very spot where Whitey sat during his visit. She is sleeping and no doubt dreaming Flint, Michigan Alpha Male dreams. I know how she feels. I miss the band, too. I wouldn't snuggle with them, but they make some mighty fine music. I relate to the misty reminiscing - me dreaming of the shows I've seen, her dreaming of the one person who understands her. I cannot deny a fellow fan her dreams.

Then I remember all the chewed up refrigerator magnets. The professional carpet cleaning appointment. The tiller we will have to borrow in the Spring. The BITE MARKS on my prescription GLASSES.

Oh, the hell I can't. Whitey ain't here to save you now, puppy-cita. SNEAK ATTACK!!!


ermaloff said...

If you do not have a crate, don't think about it, just go get one. Crate her any time someone can't watch her (but never for punishment). When you take her out of the crate, take her straight to the yard. If she does really seem to have a weak bladder, there are medications for it. If not, you can cement her housetraining with consistent crating (and for your sanity, use treats and train her to get in on command so that you're not chasing her down).


Death Becomes Her said...

All hail, Danielle. Thank you, darling!

Leslie said...

I concur with the crate and have used it for every dog I have had- especially for the potty training. However, I currently have a dog that came from the pound who resents and resists the crate. My others thought it was a haven to get away from us. This one only wants to be with us or the soft blanket he has on the couch. This little 13 pound wonder has demolished one crate and has been working on the current one, but we have reinforced it. Now, he is flinging his body against it, secure in the knowledge he will get out somehow. My other dogs who came from loving homes where no such things as bars existed loved the crate. For the chewing, get something for him that is ok to chew, most importantly he likes to chew, and make a big deal about how he can chew that. Final advice- wait 6 months- all will be better. Advice my wise grandfather used to give about teens- nothing so wrong with him that another couple of years will not cure.