I’ve been thinking lately that I don’t give my dogs enough press on the blog. My cats get some, but the major focus is and always has been books. Duh, it’s a book blog, right? But progress on Voyager has been a little slow, or at least it seems that way. Right now, Claire and Jamie are in the middle of some sort of bootlegging shenanigans that involve a whorehouse, Claire being mostly naked and covered in someone else’s blood, and the drunkard “Chinaman” Mr. Willhouby. It’s almost absurd the nonsense that’s going on. It’s funny and entertaining, of course, but I’m kind of used to the Frasers having much more noble pursuits than bootlegging brandy. I’m sure Jamie has a very noble reason for his current activities, but he hasn’t gotten around to telling Claire yet, so I don’t know either, since Claire is my narrator. So there’s my brief update on Voyager.
I thought I’d talk about my dogs tonight, because, well, they are important parts of my life, and even thought they don’t sit still for me to take pictures of them with books like the cats do, they’re always around when I’m reading and writing. One of them likes to try and help me write by walking across my keyboard. No, that’s not a typo. I own a dog who walks on keyboards. He was raised by cats (who hate him).
My first dog was Spinner, the Tibetan Spaniel. I got him from the veterinary technology program where I met my husband Jacob. He was quite possibly the perfect dog. Not a big dog, but didn’t have a little dog attitude, which was a big deal for me when I got him—I didn’t like little dogs back in the late nineties, but back then I didn’t know any little dogs personally, so I didn’t know how awesome they could be. Spinner was the first pet my husband and I adopted together, even though he was more my dog than Jacob’s. The first weekend we had him, we took him to the Arboretum in Davis and he fell into Putah Creek because he was so excited to see ducks. Putah Creek in June is disgusting, with this film of fluorescent green stuff on top. I don’t know what it is. Algae? Mold? Toxic waste? Duck poo? Probably it’s all three. But I do know that we didn’t have any towels in the car that day. One time we went out to the fields outside of Davis with our friend Jeff and Spinner went running through an irrigation ditch that was full of mud. We didn’t have any towels in the car that day, either. We had Spinner until he was about sixteen years old. I’ll never be able to say for certain which of my pets was the hardest to say goodbye to when the time came. They all sucked. For Spinner, I felt like I was saying goodbye to him a little bit each day for the last two years of his life. He was pretty senile at the end, so the dog who got euthanized was hardly the one I brought home from tech school. I was grateful to be able to give him peace by the time it came time to let him go, and it was awful, but peaceful too. I didn’t have that with all of my cats, so I was glad to have it with him.
When I was a first year veterinarian at my current job, I got Bailey, my Golden Retriever. She came in when she was five weeks old with a necrotic wound on her foot and a missing toe. The winners who brought her in had her living in a barn with her mom and her littermates, and “rats ate her toe.” Isn’t that awesome? Anyway, I spent about ten minutes venting in treatment about what idiots these people were and how I would love to take the puppy (whose name was Zoey) away from them. A receptionist whose name I think was Mary said to me, “Do you want this dog?” I said, “Yes!” And she said something along the lines of “Okay, give me a few minutes.” She came back less than five minutes later and said that Zoey was my dog. And then, at like eleven at night, I had to call my fiancé and tell him we just got another dog. I told him she was his birthday present. He didn’t care because she was so darn cute. Shortly thereafter Zoey became Bailey (named after a Labrador Retriever patient of mine from my fourth year of vet school who had a front leg amputated while I was on surgery), and then I got to learn all about why sometimes boy dogs are easier to have than girl dogs. Bailey was my first experience with managing an open wound, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve loved Golden Retrievers my whole life, and Bailey has done nothing that I recall that has made me think any less of the breed. (The fine print of that statement is that she’s done plenty of terrible things, but none that have done any lasting harm to my esteem for Goldens.) Bailey is a sensitive soul who is sweet and eager to please, but so nervous. If she knows you, she loves you forever, unless she’s one of the technicians at work who I make express her anal glands or trim her nails. These two dogs were my first dogs. And I’ll love them unconditionally forever.
And then there’s Dudley. Dudley was my first “replacement dog.” He came to us last summer as an eight week old puppy. I got him from clients who brought his littermate in because she was sick. She was so cute! And I said that if she were a boy I’d want to steal him, because to me the perfect combination of dogs is a small boy dog and a big girl dog. At this point, Spinner had been gone for about seven months and we were thinking it was about time to get Bailey a friend because she was getting way to used to being an only dog. They said that they actually had her brother, and were trying to decide if they wanted to keep him or find him a home. And with that conversation, I became a member of the cult of dachshund. Dachshund owners are strange people, and now I know why. They aren’t in charge of their own homes. The dachshund is. Dudley came into the house and immediately took over. Lord, he’s a charming dog. He makes me absolutely insane. After a few weeks he had figured out that the fastest way to get to sleep on the bed was to keep us up all night barking and rattling his kennel door. On the bed, he sleeps like the freaking dead. He’s eaten books. And maps. And gone litter box diving so many times that we’ve had to put a dog gate on the door to the room with the litter boxes. I’ve never had a dog who is so irritating but so loveable at the same time. I loved Spinner. And I love Bailey. But Dudley? Dudley is like that friend who drives you crazy but you keep going back for more because he’s so fun. I talk about him all the damn time. I talk about him so much it annoys me, and I can only imagine how annoying I must be to my coworkers who have to listen to me. But then, they’re long-suffering animal parents too, so maybe they don’t mind.
I often wonder what Spinner would think of Dudley. I’m pretty sure he would be very annoyed. I’m also pretty sure that Spinner would have done a better job at putting him in his place than Bailey has been able to do. She’s just too darn nice to him.
So there you have it: a primer on the dogs in my life.