Friday, February 22, 2013


The longest successful relationship I've had in my adult years is with my six-year-old German shepherd, Tess.  I call her the Contessa, not because she is Italian or of particular noble birth (despite her pedigree that stretches back to the Renaissance), but because she acts like the world revolves around her, her never-ending need for attention, and her food bowl, which is actually the cats' food bowl.  Tess is extremely loyal but not very faithful.  When I say she is my longest successful relationship, that just means we've managed to stay together for five years without killing each other, though we came close in the first four months of our living arrangement.

She cheats on me constantly.

 Every person, dog, cat, squirrel, leaf is more interesting than me, and if anything of the male persuasion happens near, I no longer exist.  Her best friend is my black cat, Percy, her boyfriend is a beautiful husky/shepherd mix named Kully, and she is absolutely obsessed with my current squeeze, the Cowboy.  I can't really blame her.  I am the strict disciplinarian - no table scraps, no sleeping on the bed, and for heaven's sake, please stop licking my face, I KNOW where that tongue has been!  While the Cowboy slips her morsels when I'm not looking (he "accidentally" drops them on the floor) roughhouses with her to her obvious delight (do not ever let her catch you playing on the swings), and lets her lick his feet.  When he comes over, she goes absolutely bananas.  I have spent hours teaching this beast not to jump on people when greeting them.  She has concluded this means do not jump on me, but everyone else is perfectly fine, particularly when they don't stop her.  The Cowboy gets mauled repeatedly at the front door (to his obvious delight), the cat gets rolled across the floor periodically, and the neighbors encourage in their high pitched voices "Come on, Tess!  Come on, baby, come see me!"  The orgy of doggy delight and human squealing that follows is pretty chaotic.

How do I, the mistress who feeds her and takes her for walks, compete?

I was beginning to give my dog up as a hopeless flirt and philanderer who doesn't really care a bit about me when a recent trip to the vet made me rethink my pooch's wayward ways.  Upon entering the clinic, she jumped up to put her front paws on the counter in order to greet the receptionists with a big doggy grin, tongue lolling - "Hi, girls!  It's me again, your favorite patient!"  Favorite probably because they rarely see her and hardly remember who she is anyway.  These people see hundreds of animals I'm sure.  I decided it was easiest to drop Tess off at the vet for the day and collect her later on my lunch hour.  They needed to check her ears, do her yearly physical, clip her toenails, and update her kennel cough vaccine.  As I handed her leash to the receptionist so she could take her to the kennels in the back, she wiggled her body with happiness and tried to wrap herself around the girl.  I turned to leave, the receptionist started to lead her to the back and the drama began.  Tess about had a coronary.  Her claws scrabbled against the linoleum as she tried to haul herself away from the receptionist and get back to me, and as she is quite a strong dog, she nearly dragged the poor receptionist across the floor to the main doors.  Throwing all of her sixty-five pounds into her one goal of not letting me anywhere out the door without her, she flattened her chest to the floor and tried to crawl her way over to me.  As with kids, in this situation it is best to wave goodbye with a smile and walk out with one's dignity intact.

I melted on the spot.

"Oh, poor puppy!"  I felt so guilty leaving her there that I had to give her a hug and let her lick my hands and give her ears a vigorous scratch.  This, of course, resulted in even more hysterics as the receptionist led her back to the kennels.  In the past she would trot alongside whoever was leading her back to the kennels with all the excitement of a kid being led to the ice cream truck - new adventures, new people, new animals always intrigued her.  I'm not sure what prompted the hysteria this time of her having to leave my side even for a few hours, but I do have to say I am relieved to know that my dog, at almost six years old, has become sufficiently codependent.  I have noticed over the years that despite her unfailing interest in new friends, as soon as someone tried to remove her from anyplace where she can still see me, she has a fit.  Since she is a German shepherd and I am a single woman, that is a comforting thought.  I suppose should someone wish to assault or mug me when my precious pooch is by my side I will at least have time to get away as she mauls the culprit to death with excited bouncing, licking, and whining.

Who knows, she may even tear his face off with her teeth.