Monday Aug 11, 2008

Dog Psychics

We were a happy, classic nuclear family with a mom, a dad, a daughter and a son. We had a golden retriever named Annie, who was an only “child”. (The pet rats had gone onto their heavenly reward by then.) Why mess with perfection?

Because Annie seemed lonely. So I thought it would be a good idea to get her a playmate. I searched the want ads and found Chad, a very handsome boy – one of those classic goldens with a square head and silky, thick blond fur. We brought Chad home for a trial run.

Chad came to our house and immediately intimidated Annie. Fortunately, before I had to break up a dog fight, he became distracted by the pool, which he joyously jumped into. And jumped out of. So he could run onto our hill and get covered with dirt. Which apparently made him itchy. So he jumped back into the pool. The now muddy pool. Our son and his friends thought this great fun, so they jumped into the pool with the dog. Who scratched the crap out of their backs and arms. Not so much fun.

I got the boys out of the pool and cleaned up, and come back to find Chad growling at Annie. As I opened the door to the house, Chad (no longer a silky blond – now a wet, smelly muddy brown) dashed into the house so he could jump on every piece of furniture and leave his mark. He finished by going into the bathroom for a long cool drink of water from the toilet. Although a boy, he did not put the seat up. So he left long lines of drool on the seat for the next customer.

Chad went back to his former owner that same day.

You would think I would have learned my lesson, but no, I didn't. This time I went to rescue groups and we were paired with Nell. I don't know what dogs came together to create a Nell but the end result was a short-haired 45 pound bundle of strong-willed muscle and absolutely no brain. The dog was an idiot. But she got along with Annie, and Andrew loved her.

Nell was a reasonably nice dog with one major fault (not counting no brain) – she was a runner. So we had to become guardians of the front door, making sure the idiot didn't escape. (Over time I began to wonder why I cared if she escaped, but that was just a bad mother moment, I'm sure.) In time, Nell figured out that she could jump over our 6-foot fence. Where she tried to bite a neighbor boy on a skateboard. That was the last straw. Nell needed to go. I called the rescue society and told them to take her back or I would solve the problem in a less pleasant manner.

The rescue people claimed not to have room for Nell right then. So they offered to send a dog psychologist out to help us deal with Nell.

Yes. I do know that this would only happen in Southern California.

The dog psychologist arrived the next day. I don't recall her name but do remember her to be tall and very slender, wearing those filmy vague floaty outfits that she must have thought made her look spiritual. I gave her the dog and said, “Good luck. I'm outta here.” (Yes, I know I should have stayed but she didn't say a word about my leaving and I was too ignorant to know better.)

When I returned two hours later, I found hot dogs, cheese and dog biscuits on every available surface. Nell was ignoring them, as she slavishly followed the psychologist around the house. “Sit, Lila!”, cried the woman. Nell sat. “Lie down, Lila!” Nell lay down. “Wash the windows, Lila!” Nell would have, I'm sure, if she had only had thumbs.

I was properly impressed but puzzled. When I left the house, the dog's name was Nell. When I returned, her name was Lila. I asked what happened.

The psychic looked deep into my eyes, took my hands and explained, “Your dog has a very old soul, Terry. In a prior lifetime she was Lila, a queen. And that is how she would prefer to be addressed.”

I said that was very nice but the dog is now Nell and needs to be trained to that name. She sighed deeply and reluctantly agreed, but made me promise I would change Nell's red collar for a green one, as the red collar was giving off "a bad aura." Once the dog psychologist floated out the front door, Nell dashed through the house, grabbing every piece of food the trainer had left, ending her run by taking a giant you-know-what on the living room rug.

Nell did not come to a good end, I'm sorry to say. She managed another great escape and it did not work out well for her. And Annie? She lived to be 15 and spent the rest of her long, happy life as an only “child.” And was darned happy about it.




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