Sunday, October 19, 2014

Senior neuroses and puppy ears

My sixtieth birthday looms (borrowing a phrase from a very wise book) "steadfast and immovable" next month and inadvertently, I find myself checking off all the boxes of getting OLD.  I'm not referring to aches and pains, wrinkles, and gray hair ..... although they have all arrived on the scene.  I'm talking about STUFF that old people DO.  Like, for example .....

1.  Buying a motorhome ..... or something similar, which we have been researching for several months now......
2.  Happily taking full advantage of every "senior discount" out there, and inwardly assuming my eligibility is in doubt by all clerks and/or waiters because I certainly don't LOOK over 55.......
3.  Wearing high-waisted elastic-topped pants.   (Actually I've been guilty of this for years because really, who cares??  Admit it, we all KNOW they're more comfortable and we're not tucking our shirts in so no one sees anyway.)  ..... and....
4.  Getting a small dog.

You may recall we tried a cat on for size and he lasted a year before disappearing.  We like to think a kind dairy farmer found and adopted him and the cat is happily chasing barn mice and licking the milk buckets clean.  We DON'T like to assume a coyote was involved.  We were fond of our cat and a bit sad at his departure.  But during our cat phase, Husband occasionally commented that he'd rather have a dog.

"They actually love you."  He said.

And he's right.  To a cat, we are simply its staff.

We used to have a dog.  We also used to live on a couple of acres with four children for whom I wanted to provide the classic all-American childhood.  In my mind, this required a rural setting, regular family dinners, and a dog.  He was a border collie/sheltie mix named Jesse ..... well loved, most of the time, for the approximate 14 years of his life.  Then we moved into a new home unmarred by dog pee, and he was lapsing into old-dog failing health, complicated by the trauma of new and strange surroundings.  We eventually laid him to rest with many fond memories.  That was it for me.  No more dogs.  I wanted my pee-free home to remain as such.

Ten and a half years later, the pee-free home is no longer new and the carpets are beginning to show their age.  My fanatical dog ban has evaporated away.  And ..... bottom line ..... I am a softie.  And Husband, who leads the world as a Champion World Class Marshmallow, detected a crack in my resolve and gently prodded my thoughts towards a puppy.  He claims he didn't, but he did.

Now why on earth, would anyone with a sane mind give up a major chunk of their long-earned freedom and take on a pet???  They say that freedom is when the kids move out and the dog dies.  We HAD that freedom.  It was ours!  Maybe it's one of those psychological quirks that we neurotics manifest occasionally when we sabotage ourselves one way or another.  You know what I mean.  Like when we SWEAR we are starting a diet then promptly buy another carton of Breyers chocolate mint ice cream. (Which I may or may not have in my freezer as I type.)  But, you see, we envisioned bringing a fun little dog into our semi-new camping/hiking lifestyle, easy to take along in a travel trailer or other type of RV, for which we are still shopping.

Okay so, here's my defense:  I have always loved dachshunds, informally known as "weiner" dogs.  Is there anything cuter?  I think not.  But I've never owned one.  And recently we attended an RV show where an EVIL pet-selling enterprise staged a pen of over-priced PUPPIES in the lobby!!  They KNEW there would be hoards of gullible retirees coming to that show.  THEY KNEW.  And in that pen was a tiny dachshund puppy.  OH MY GOSH.  He cuddled into my neck and rubbed his velvety ears on my face and my knees went weak.   Therefore the conversation between Husband and me began.

And I, in my usual over-thinking mode began haunting every possible source for dogs:  Craigslist, the local newspaper, websites, and shelters.  I read every thing dog-related.  Dachshunds are not known, I learned, to be the easiest to train.  So I considered beagles which, apparently are worse.   Beagles are also extraordinarily cute with their long, floppy ears ..... (I obviously have a thing for floppy dog ears) .....but I wanted SMALL.  That was one of my complaints about Jesse.  He was mid-sized and difficult to bathe.  And I can't handle that stinky-dog smell in my house, or on my hands, or anywhere else.  My dog has to be clean.  Therefore, it was a requirement that it be small enough to fit in a sink.  Plus short hair and low grooming maintenance.  Jesse fit none of those requirements and so this time I was firm.  I wanted what I wanted.  Dachshunds were a concern because of their short legs and our visions taking it on long hikes.  Plus they have vulnerable backs that can be injured easily, particularly on stairs ..... and our house has three different staircases.  So I wavered back and forth between beagles and doxies (another nickname) and their various pros and cons.

Then, on a useful site called that features rescued pets, I found this:

Look at those ears!
He is a one year old product of a brief encounter between a doxie and a beagle, which I recently learned is called a "doxle".  Some people (including the AKC) classify them as one of the snooty-sounding "designer hybrid breeds" while to most old-schoolers, they're just mutts.  I HAD to go see this little mutt at their next dog "event" where they feature their rescued critters at a local PetSmart in hopes that some schmuck like me will fork over money and adopt them.  I drove over with a firm grip on myself ..... determined to hold out for what I really wanted.

He was perfect.  The exact blend of the two cutest breeds, the size of your average cat, fully grown yet looked like a puppy.  With the velvet ears.  I was done for.

To be continued......