Sunday, April 29, 2012
Curbing Lap Dog Co-Dependency
When your kids leave home you unconsciously begin looking for "kid substitutes". Mine took the form of Chihuahua doggies. I have two, a 13 year old and a two-year old and they are my "babies". While they can't possibly offer the same joy one gets from kids, I find they're a damn good "second". You need never worry about their report cards, who they're hanging with, and you never need to be monitoring a midnight curfew.
While I played "horsie" with my kids, swam with them, jogged with them, played golf with them, told them ghost stories, watched movies with them that I would never have chosen myself, my doggies require a different form of attention and care. Like children, my Chi's also have their own unique personality and require different things to make them happy.
My big girl, Ginger, has been with us for 13 years come June. She's a fawn reindeer, who in her youth, was capable of extreme leaping abilities. She has on more than one occasion, scaled a four foot breakfast counter in one leap, navigated the counter to saunter over to the stove and has eaten half a pot of chicken stew before she was caught. A bowl of nuts or grapes or chips were never safe from her if left on any counter in the kitchen. She has survived our wrath and has endeared her self to us by a single loving gesture. When I get up in the morning Ginger always greets me with a a leap up my leg, waiting for me to say good morning. She will not stop that happy and loving leaping until I say the words "good morning, gin". She will not even go out to the bathroom until I have acknowledged our mutual love and early morning good will. When she finally passes over the "Rainbow Bridge", it will be that enthusiastic leaping tag of me each morning that I will remember the best.
The younger Chi is named Rosie and was a replacement for a male Chi, named Rocky who we lost in October 2009. I wrote an earlier blog about the loss of Rocky, and the hole that remains in my heart from his early leaving. While Rocky was a very quiet, very dignified little guy, he starred in one remarkable talent; he loved to sing. His favorite song was the old Neil Diamond tune "Song Sung Blue". As soon as I began singing it, Rocky's big ears would perk up, he would stick his snout in the air and began singing loud and strong. He delighted in "our delight" of his singing prowess and loved to perform for us. He was equally adept at singing Happy Birthday and seemed to take a particular pleasure in serenading those celebrating a birthday.
When Rocky died, our other Chi, Ginger, went into depression. I bought her Rosie to keep her company. It surely did and the old girl was rejuvenated by having an energetic and playful puppy for company. They are now "sisters" soul mates.
While Chi's are a joy, before anyone acquires one or two, one must know that they are "lap dogs". That fact should not be taken lightly. Chi's love to occupy your lap, and failing that, at least ply a share of your recliner. In winter, having a couple of furry doggies makes a great replacement for a blanket. But, it is almost intolerable to put up with all the lap time in the heat of summer. Fortunately, a "fix" for this evolved over a period of time. I keep a metal container of Burt's Bees moisturising salve on the table next to my chair. To combat dry lips, I will often open the can of salve and apply it to dry lips or hands. One day I noticed that whenever I opened the salve cans the doggies in my lap would draw away from it; perhaps they didn't like the smell.
So, one day while applying salve I had a streak of sadism and boinked salve on two Chi noses. Both leaped from my lap in indignation. Ginger ran over to a corner and began lapping the offensive salve from her nose. However, Rosie was extremely mad about this. She ran over to her bed and began clawing at the bed, rubbing her nose into the bed material to get it off, then stopping to look back at me with real fire in her eyes.
After that, whenever I wanted to clear my lap of doggies, I simply opened the salve can and boinked their noses with salve and see them leaping to the floor. Ginger's reaction never changed; she seemed to accept this indignation with a resolve that simply said "humans can be so silly". However Rosie has taken her ire to whole new levels. Once dobbed with salve she flees to her bed, paws ferociously at the material, rubs her nose to clear it; then, as I began screeching "oh, look how mad she is!..."she is so mad", "she's flipping out!"...Rosie begins doing circular flips, rolling over and over in the bed. If I continue making fun of her antics she will continue flipping and pawing until I stop. It has become a grand game that an old man and his dog enjoy immensely.
When I choose to be pro-active in the "anti-lap" war, as soon as the two Chi's begin circling my chair for a leap up for a "lap-nap", I simply pick up the salve can, which sends them fleeing back to the safety of their bed.
Rosie is also the most needy and the most demanding of it. If I become too engrossed in a TV show, or am on the computer, she will maneuver around the room until she can achieve line of sight with me..if I continue to ignore her she will begin barking at me, very loudly. She seems to be saying "hey!..pay attention to me! I need attention! I then have to take a break, pick her up, rub her ears, give her a little sweet talk, before I can resume what I'm doing.
The moral of this story: If you choose to have lap dogs, be prepared to support their needed lap time...and when you've had your fill of it...get yourself a can of Burt's Bees Salve...you'll find it can be quite entertaining!