DOGLEMMA

I doubt there is a person alive that hasn’t endured a holiday celebration with an “outsider”…a person dragged to the event by a sibling or two that everyone is forced to make nice to…just because its Christmas or Thanksgiving. And even though in private we might say to the offending invitor…”WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”…we smile and pass the gravy at the dining table…hopefully waiting to express our disdain, disbelief, and comedic comments until later. I admit…I’ve been guilty of this indiscretion on more than one occasion. Heck, I even married the one that was inebriated at my family’s Christmas dinner rambling on and on about Chinese food for reasons still unknown.
We’ve had those with criminal records grace our holiday gatherings, those who talked on and on, those anxious to please bearing gifts unwanted and misunderstood. We had a guy (again thanks to me) who was a piano player and entertained us all by drumming a little tune on his toast, a guest whose dentures clicked at each and every bite that tested the composure of every one of my brothers and sisters, a brother’s girlfriend who arrived in bib overalls who obviously had not told of my Mom’s strict “Sunday clothes policy” at our festive eateries, various clergy who made us all sit in guilty silence instead of pigging out on the treats before us, and even ex-spouses my Mom felt sorry for which really made for an interesting meal. Try dodging those poorly disguised “it was all your fault” barbs in between courses and see what revenge eating is all about!
Until this year though, I thought this was only a human dilemma…then Kiki came to my house for Thanksgiving dinner and all the protocol of years being gracious to perhaps ungracious guests was ignored in many overt actions…from my dog Sadie. You see, Kiki is the newest member of the extended Lawson Family…Kiki is a very small Pomeranian Puppy and Sadie was a most ungracious hostess.
Sadie had met Kiki the last time we visited in Pennsylvania, but like a good guest since she was in Kiki’s home, she just avoided her. In playful puppy mode, Kiki had bit at the long hair covering Sadie’s paws, and Sadie jumped backward at each nibble. She did did not snap at the small puppy, instead she hid behind me at every chance. This was different though in dog ettiquitte…Kiki was now on Sadie’s turf and she was doing everything she could to express her displeasure.
Sadie initially eyed the small dog prancing into the house with wild disbelief…running behind me…sniffing the small puppy as if to confirm she was real…whining…slinking off to her bed and pouting. Sadie sulked while I gave Kiki a bath in the basement paint sink…Sadie’s bathtub no less…she stood watch as I used the scented shampoo she’s never shared (except with me) and grabbed the corner of her towel I was using to dry the midget mutt. It was hilarious to me, but sadly serious to Sadie. The final straw was when the little guest ran into Sadie’s kennel which suddenly looked gigantic. A pennie for a 30 pound dog is an entire country for a one pound fur ball. As Kiki ran around on the soft mattress.. rolled and reveled the spaciousness of her new kingdom, Sadie whined and pawed at the door of the kennel until Kiki ran out and Sadie dashed in. Ha…a dog I have to coax with gourmet treats to enter this pen was in and she was not leaving and she definitely was not sharing her space.
It was even worse at mealtime. I prepared a small dish of food for Kiki…after all Sadie has a huge sack of food and could certainly spare a small amount, but she didn’t see it that way. She hovered over the little dog…begrudging her every tiny morsel…then she sucked up the water in Kiki’s small bowl with a few laps of her tongue just to prove she ruled the kingdom. Its a good thing that Kiki exacted no retaliation…she just sat back and looked at my dog who loomed over her. Sadie was placated with a treat and Kiki’s water was replaced as I guarded it and she drank the entire bowl. Seems she was learning a thing or two from her big cousin…get it while you can!
The jealousy over the dog who came to dinner continued throughout the three days my family visited in our home. But it was Sadie’s attitude toward me that was funny and so out of character that kept everyone’s attention and made us laugh. Sadie obviously blamed me for the appearance of this little dog and was making no effort to disguise her disdain. She sulked away from me…she wouldn’t go outside for her early morning “peester” if Kiki was in the back yard…she retreated to the far end of our large sectional sofa just glaring at me. She offered Mr. Squirrel to my Dad instead of me… stuck close to my Mom…ignored my request to “get your leash” and in general treated me like I had committed some great atrocity against her! The only thing she didn’t reject from me was her dinner. I pointed out to her that I had even roasted her a nice cut of beef taking into account her allergy to poultry, but while she devoured it with gusto, she remained indifferent to me.
As bedtime approached, I noticed her limping and favoring her left paw. Having been through previous paw problems with Sadie…thorns…sprains…I couldn’t ignore this and approached her after she climbed on the couch to examine the seemingly injured paw. Sadie has never liked anyone at all fussing with her paws, ( except of course when I rub the soothing Paw Rub on them that she was gifted with from the Westin Breathe Spa at Hilton Head) often responding with a nip or two in the direction of me or Rodney or her vet, but this time was the most resistance she ever put up. She wriggled…she growled…she snapped the air with her jaws and then she nipped my hand. Not wanting to heap more misery on her, I gave up and decided to look at it in the morning when Rodney could hold her.
She slowly followed me to the bedroom and flopped on the floor in front of the armoire refusing to come into the bathroom for her nightly teeth brushing. I begged, cajoled, and finally threatened and she slowly got up and slinked into the bathroom. Instead of sitting on the rug like she usually does, she got under the sink and refused to open her mouth. It was a struggle, but the task was completed.
I placed the sheet over the comforter as I always do, finished my own bedtime rituals, and climbed into bed. No Sadie. She remained on the floor. I put the television on timer, and before I knew it the sounds of the small puppy woke me up. There was Sadie…curled into a tight ball…at the very edge of the bed’s furtherest corner. I went downstairs to retrieve our tiny guest from her crate and let her go into the backyard…oh how I remember those nocturnal puppy pee sessions with Sadie. Kiki was quick to scamper back to me and I realized Sadie had not even bothered to come downstairs with me.
I placed Kiki back into the crate and returned upstairs to Sadie still in the remote corner of our bed. Sitting next to her I petted her and told her that Kiki was not going to be here forever…that she should know she is the dog of my life…my sweet little dog daughter that no one can ever replace and that I loved her. With a kiss on the top of her head, I climbed back under the covers, put the TV on timer, and prepared to grab a few more hours sleep. In the light of the television I saw that Sadie had uncurled from her tight little ball, was lying with her head up as if contemplating what I’d said to her. After a few minutes of looking toward the window in deep thought, she scooched up the bed and flopped right nest to my legs…and then I felt her head on my leg and heard her sigh…it was one of contentment if not apology.
So dogs and people alike in many ways. We all need some reassurance sometimes, we also have to put up with guests that perhaps we would rather stayed home…its good to be gracious…its hard to share sometimes…its all part of being human…or canine as the case might me.
Kiki left before we knew it…she was gifted with some treats…a Christmas Scarf hand made by me and Sadie…a new collar and leash…and we hope some warm feelings of hospitality even though part of it was reluctant from one of us. I cried as the van carrying Kiki left our driveway because my parents were also in the vehicle and the time just flew while they were here. So many holdiays…so many memories…so much laughter and fun…now though it seems like so little time. But for this year…we are grateful for the time we have and the comfort and fellowship that only comes from family. One of us though is even more grateful that her first holiday dinner guest is gone.
Oh…Sadie’s feelings were back to normal in a snap and that injured paw…nonexistent…seems Sadie is quite the maniuplator…if she needed my attention for a hurt paw…then perhaps I’d have no time for the interloper. If I’m lucky enough to have my family here for Christmas, maybe they’ll bring one of the larger dogs…see how Sadie handles that one!

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