My Life in Dogs: A Bio of Sorts
Bambi the Boxer was a short-lived member of the family, and I fear that I was the reason she got kicked out. She knocked little infant me down a flight of stairs while racing to attack the Washing Machine. She was a little hyper. My parents gave her away to a loving family, where I’m sure she appreciated not having a toddler in the way when the infernal Washing Machine attacked..
Phoebe is best remembered for her food-related antics. She ate an entire roll of Bubble Tape (which ended up stuck in her extremely long earhair), a huge glass jar of jelly beans (just the beans), a box of Cheerios (in which her head got stuck)–whatever she could get her paws on!
When we got Phoebe, I was around 7 years old and was one of those girls who was obsessed with horses. Phoebe was TALL and sleek and fast, which to me translated directly into HORSE. I would play imaginary games where I was a (lady) knight and she was my gallant steed. The one problem with this scenario was that Phoebe wouldn’t let me ride on her back. Which was totally lame behavior for a gallant steed. So I started riding real horses. I think that Phoebe was quiet grateful.
My parents got Benny as a tiny puppy one summer while my brother and I were at camp. When my mom came to pick me and my brother up, she brought him with her. My mom got me first, and we drove with Benny to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire to collect my brother. We had to spend the night at the lake before getting him, and so the three of us–Mom, Benny, and me–hit the town. We tried to get Benny to swim (he was terrified of the waves) and that night we played miniature golf with him tucked in our sweatshirts.
Benny really liked rocks. He’d push them around the yard, he’d chew on them, he’d hide them in his jowls to try to sneak them into the house. You’d have to tell him to “drop it” before letting him in from the backyard, and inevitably, a large, slobber-covered rock would plummet from his jaws.
What I remember most about Benny was how human he seemed. He had these soulful brown eyes, and you could tell there was more than just “chew the rock, eat the kibble” going on inside his velveteen head. Once, when I was really upset about some high school something, I remember him sitting beside me and putting his paw around my shoulders to comfort me. Now that’s a good dog, I tell you.
The name was my mother’s choice, and referred to the white markings on the back of Covey’s neck which my mom thought looked exactly like a quail (no joke.). A group of quails is called a covey, hence Covey. I wanted to name her Jenny, so we’d have Benny and Jenny Box. My brother wanted to name her “Smurfit,” which was how he spelled Smurfette at the time. Somehow, my mom’s name won out.
Covey could get out of and into anything. She busted out of locked crates, as in we clipped the door closed with extra latches and she still got out. She escaped from our fenced-in yard, no matter how many times we reinforced it. She opened closed doors to infiltrate forbidden rooms of the house. We have plausible theories explaining most of her Houdini-esque escapes, but we still have no idea how she got out of the crate.
Related to all this escaping is her thievery. Once, Covey returned from her out-of-the-yard jaunt with a baguette. Another time, a stuffed Lamb Chop toy. We have no idea from what picnic or child’s stroller these items were pilfered, but we amused ourselves imagining the reactions of the hungry and woebegone child victims of her crimes.
Covey owes her singing career to me. I took classical singing lessons in high school and college, and when I practiced singing at home, Covey would sit in my room and listen to me. One night, she pursed her jowls and sang along. Now, you might think she was simply howling, but no, I swear, she sang. She had a lovely “Ooooooh.”
To soothe herself, Dee loved to suck on fleece toys, which we called “mothering.” DeeDee could often be found buried in pillows on the couch, fleece “mother” between her jaws, sucking away, tiny little stub of a tail wagging. If not mothering, she was snuggling. DeeDee liked to sleep with anyone caught supine on couch, bed, or floor (she was a little “hot water doggle”) and would wake the sleeper when she needed something (breakfast, Out) by standing on his/her chest and staring at him/her for several minutes (which we dubbed the “dog scan”).
Although I’m generally against putting dogs in clothes (my dogs wear winter coats, but that’s because it’s dern cold up here and they’d freeze their little short-haired tails off without them), Dee was the kind of dog for whom such things were invented. In the above photo, DeeDee is wearing a tutu that my sister-in-law made for her. I made her a little red-and-white checked pinafore. She did not enjoy either of these items, and spent the majority of time that she was in them trembling.
Peter is a mixed breed, and since he’s a rescue, we have no idea what he’s a mix of. Our best guess is that he’s part pug, part Boston, and so we have dubbed him a Pugston Terrier (I’ve heard this mix called a “Bug”, but Pugston is so much cuter–hear that AKC?).
I think that Peetles is the handsomest young gentleman on earth. Other people think differently. Every time that my grandfather saw Pete, he would say, “That is the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.” Considering that my grandfather was a man of very few words (at any given family occasion, five, tops), such a statement shows how very strongly he felt about my buddy’s appearance. Thanks, PopPop.
Peter thinks of himself as a tough guy. When we adopted him, he had scars on his forehead and one scratched eye, all testaments to the rough times he had kickin’ butt on the streets of Trenton (which is how I imagine his time before joining our family). He gets into a lot of trouble at the dog park by walking up to dogs that outweigh him by fifty pounds and humping their legs. Some of these dogs are amused by this; some are not. Zeus, for example, is not amused.
For a dog rescued off the street, Peter is very particular about his things. He doesn’t like other dogs playing with his toys, or playing with their own toys if he’s at their house, or playing with anything at all if it doesn’t involve him also getting attention. He won’t eat his kibble if it doesn’t also contain some delicious human-food treat (bacon, please).
Alas, Peetles has an Achilles’ Heel: shall we call it the Peetles’ Knee? His back end isn’t doing so well. Luckily we had a baby, so now when we go on walks and his butt starts hurting, we put him in the stroller’s basket, which we have dubbed “Peetles Basket”.
Zeus looks like a tough guy, but in reality was a love. Unless you were a stranger. Or a toddler. Or a lizard. Then you were in trouble. Sometimes he growled while licking your face and wagging his stumpy little tail, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Zeus’s obsessions: water (the dog couldn’t get enough to drink…it turned out to be a medical problem), balloons (he kind of lost it over balloons), lizards (he saw them everywhere–EVERYWHERE, I TELL YOU!), my brother (his Boy).
Kerry was a wee pup when we got her (though the adoption agency told us she was a year old, she was more like six months) and so we put her in a crate when we weren’t home. Dog training books tell you that dogs love their crates, and many do, but not Kerry. When in her crate, she’d cry, and not any normal dog cry–Kerry would whistle and squeal like a bird. So we call her the BirdDog, or simply Bird. I’m sure this will cause my daughter endless years of confusion.
Kerry is a ratter, a born hunter. She loves to run and chew and dig. Unfortunately for the Bird, when we adopted her, we lived in a one bedroom apartment. But my in-laws lived in the middle of the woods in Vermont. Whenever we’d visit them, Kerry would transform from nervous city dog into the BR’DRG (pronounced bur-derrrrrg). She would tear around the yard, sniffing and digging and leaping over logs. We’d let her Out and she’d race into the woods, returning twenty minutes later out of breath with a huge smile on her jowls.
We were able to trust the BR’DRG to return home because we knew her alter ego, Kerry, needed her human family. Kerry loves to snug and to be scritched (she has very itchy ears, and sides–all over, really). And there are ways to calm the inner BR’DRG (and save our furniture): we give her rawhide chewies and let her play with Red Dot.
Red Dot is Kerry’s nemesis. It appears out of nowhere, called forth by a metal stick held by Mommy or Daddy (a laser pointer). It races across the floor and flies effortlessly up walls. It’s so fast and tiny, she can never catch it, no matter how hard she digs into the rug or leaps up the wall. But one day, she will defeat it. Oh yes, Red Dot, be forewarned–the BR’DRG will get you!
Oscar the Maine Coon cat joined our family as a result of a standoff between my husband and myself over whether I could get myself a dog. (It should be noted that my husband is a cat person; we disprove the rule that cat and dog people can’t get along. ) My husband pointed out that I was graduating from law school and looking forward to a summer of studying for the bar exam to be followed by a job at a big law firm in the fall—not the ideal time to adopt a dog. But I would not be deterred by such things as reason! I had grown up with dogs; I NEEDED a dog!
I spent all my procrastination time from studying for the bar trolling profiles on Petfinder and one day came across the most adorable little mug, Peter’s smush face. I came home that day, photo in hand, and started the hard bargaining.
Finally, my husband and I struck a deal: I could get Peter if he could get a cat.
I promptly found Oscar at the same shelter; we went out to meet them and fell in love—me with Peter and my husband with Oscar. It took a little while longer for us to fall in love with the other’s pet. Peter never did fall in love with Oscar. However, Kerry and Oscar = BFFs. We miss our beloved Oscarino very much.