“I just need one more dog, Babe. I need my last dog to be one that I’ve chosen for myself, not one that we’ve inherited from our kids.”
For the eleven years before these words were spoken by me, we had two dogs; Haven, a beautiful white boxer that I’d affectionately called my Big Beluga, because she was 75lbs. and it seemed like a fitting moniker; and Stella, a white chihuahua, who quickly became Haven’s best friend. We had inherited both from our daughters, both for the same reason…they were too big. One was too big for the house, the other was too big for her purse. Since we have a big house and I had no intention of putting a dog in my purse, we kept them and I loved them both. Haven is no longer with us. Stella refuses to die, little dogs are like that. Personally, I have always preferred big dogs.
After Haven had been gone for a year, I got the itch for another dog and those opening words were spoken. Cliff agreed that I could have one more dog. As I’ve told you before, my husband is only a liker of dogs, but a lover of me and so he indulges me, to a point. After 28 years of consistent dog ownership, I felt one more dog was fair to us both. (I did not tell him that if he dies before me, I will get another. I have a good shot at this, he’s six years older than me.) But anyway…
A few years ago, I found Phoebe, a Yellow Lab/Treeing Walker Coonhound mix, she is a very pretty girl. She is also somewhat…odd.
Phoebe, most times, doesn’t bark…she bellows. It is not melodious. It is a loud, shrieking kind of sound and her voice cracks like a teenage boy’s. If I tell her to do her “big girl bark,” she will actually bark, but she needs to be constantly reminded and we usually both forget. She lives up to her ‘Treeing’ half by chasing lizards and squirrels up trees. When I don’t come out to kill them, she gets bored and leaves them. So that’s good!
Phoebe is a picky eater. This is a first for me. In all of my 28 years of dog ownership, I’ve never had a picky eater. We’ve tried a few different kinds of dog food, only to realize Phoebe’s favorite is the cat’s food. She will tiptoe up the steps, walking very slowly so her tags don’t jingle, to the cat food dish. If I catch her mid-tiptoe and say her name with authority, she will sadly turn around and come back down. Trying to outsmart her, which isn’t very difficult, I got the idea to put her wet dog food in one of the cat dishes and placed it on her tray. She looked at me with adoration and devoured it. She still tries to eat the cat food, but she eats her dog food first and that’s what counts.
Phoebe thinks she’s invisible. No kidding! I cover one of our couches with a blanket, because Stella is old and enjoys the comfort of the couch. She can’t jump up there like she used to, so I lift her up to her favorite spot. Each morning when we come downstairs and after they’ve gone outside, they both love to curl up on the couch. Phoebe is faster than Stella and comes in first. She then goes to the couch and makes her way under the blanket. When she hears me coming in to help Stella, she freezes…like a statue…under the blanket… thinking, somehow, that I can’t see her. When I finish putting Stella on the couch and leave the room, she continues her work of making herself comfortable and lies down. One time I told her I could see her, she hung her head under the blanket and whimpered. It was pathetic and I felt so bad I never did it again.
Whenever you’ve had dogs and get a new one, comparison is inevitable. In many ways, Phoebe is ranked among the best, in a few ways…not quite so much. She’s not as big as I would have liked and the ‘bellowing’ is a little much but, overall, she’s mine and I love her; and since her love is unconditional, I suppose mine should be, too. After all, it’s really not that big a deal!