I knew this day would come, just not so soon.
My boys have fallen in love with a girl—the same girl, in fact. She is strong-willed, extremely overprotective and needs to get a grip on her separation anxiety. Bit of a whiner. The girl has issues, no doubt about it.
She’s a brunette—lean and muscular. I just thought she might be a bit more genteel—I mean, really, the farting and burping are unseemly for a lady. I also thought she’d be a lot less hairy.
I knew there would come a day when my queen bee status would be challenged but really, this is a bit much. I can’t compete with those warm brown eyes. What’s a mother to do?
Love her, I guess. And I do. I can’t help it. Our new black lab mix is a nine-month-old ball of energy and my boys adore her. The feeling is mutual, if her possessive herding of them around the house means anything.
We rescued Bailey recently—I believe the second time this damsel was in distress. The first time, she was left as an eight-week-old puppy in a box in Tennessee. A family from Chicago rescued her but their busy high-rise lifestyle wasn’t right for a fast-growing, bouncy puppy. She came to us very skittish and very distrustful of any male. (After my recent divorce, the same might be said about me—untrue, of course—but I got where she was coming from. And I empathized.)
And so, this bundle of joy comes to us—a bit neurotic and slightly damaged after a rough year. No worries sweetie, I think. We, too, are a bit damaged after our year. We’re all going to care for each other until 2013 is just one big, sane lovefest.
Now, if we could just take care of our—ahem—issues.
Such as . . .
This gal has an unspoken rule that no one should enter our space. And she defines “our space” as roughly 20 miles in any direction. Needless to say, walks are quite a workout. She will try to drag me across the street to warn the 6’2”, 220-lb. man who looks like he’s training to be an Olympic wrestler that he should exit our space. She has no fear of this specimen, who looks like he crushes concrete for fun. And yet, she refuses to walk by any house with red holiday bows on its fence. Her look of terror tells me she is sure these red bows will kill us and are far more deadly than any hooded man approaching us on our nightly walk. If she is willing to take on the hooded man, I’ve offered to handle the bows. It’s all about synergy.
I’m not sure if she is harboring anti-American sentiments or if waving U.S. flags are reminiscent of red bows for her. Either way, we have a hard time passing Old Glory—it stops us cold in our tracks. As do Christmas trees at the curb and large cardboard boxes.
She shreds chew toys labeled “virtually indestructible” and “for power chewers” within a matter of hours. Eats what any grown man would consider a large meal and is still starving. Barks during my conference calls if I refuse to continuously throw a ball to her while discussing budgets and deadlines (it’s a whole new level of multitasking). Can be little Miss Bossypants around the house—see, “I knew there would come a day when my queen bee status would be challenged”, above—and refuses to look me in the eye when she does not want to have to obey a command. I have a feeling, witnessing this behavior, that it is like having a toddler and a teen all in one. Needless to say, I’ve stocked up on red wine. For me, not for her. Come on, people. That would be animal cruelty.
In addition, there are frequent attacks on her bed which she somehow feels is alive and taunting her. She jumps from one minute spot to another like a prancing reindeer, sure she is slaying it. If she is pining away for one of us who is not at home, she attempts to stuff an entire sock from that family member in her mouth and walk around with it—as if by owning our scent, she can make us come back sooner. If angry at us for denying her something she wants, she puts one of the offender’s shoes in her mouth and walks around with it as if to limit our freedom to go anywhere. There. Take that, you silly human.
And yet, folks. Oh, and yet . . .
Within a week of adopting her, we took her to Ohio while we stayed with relatives on their Christmas tree farm. Off leash for probably the first time in her life and in a foot of snow, she was the star of our snowball fight. Three young boys, two mothers and an uncle could not compete with Bailey’s jumps, leaps and spins as she showed that snow who was boss. At the end of each day, she’d jump on the bed with my boys, a paw on each, as if to say, “I’ve got them, Mom. Go to bed. All is well.” When my sons walked alone into the turnpike rest stop as I waited outside with her, I literally skied behind her as she dragged me through the snow toward the door, sure they should not be out of our sight for even the two minutes it took them to return. She was frantic in her need to protect them. And in her desire for the entire tribe to stay together. She is happiest when we are all at home under her watchful eye.
And my boys—wow. To see an outlet for tenderness and unconditional love that is not embarrassing for them (Hugging your mom in public? Yep. Embarrassing. Hugging your dog? Just cool, dude.) is worth every pulled arm muscle, poop scooped and black hair on my floor.
She follows me like a shadow from room to room, ever curious. Wakes the boys up with a warm, wet tongue to the face or the foot. Is deliriously happy when we come home after being away, as if she can’t quite believe we, too, didn’t abandon her as others had.
I tell her she is stuck with us. And our issues. Let the lovefest begin. Bailey is healing us as much as we are healing her. ‘nough said.