April 16, 2010  
My life is going to the dogs part 2

Fonzie gets a friend

Our Beagle Fonzie was a handful with all of his disappearances; we eventually found a way to limit the amount of times that he’d try to escape. We increased his walks and we added a doggie door opening at the side of the house so that he’d have a view of the street in front, and a place to play outside in the rear of the house. My allergies were under control as long as I didn’t touch him or have him sleep in our bedroom. Life with Fonzie became manageable.

One night as we were readying for sleep Arlene said, “Fonzie must be lonely sleeping in the living room by himself.” My response was, “Nu, so are you telling me you want to sleep in the living room with him?” “Not at all. I want another dog for him.” I was not enthusiastic about that idea. We had enough animal dander in the house already. “Maybe he’d like a small Guinea Pig to keep him company?” “Mel, he’s a hunter; he’d kill it.” We both agreed to get a second dog. We’d continue our rules for managing the allergies by keeping them out of our room and off me and the furniture.

Arlene and the boys waved to me with big smiles on their faces as they headed off to the pound and returned with a Doberman – Beagle mix…a “ Beagleman”. The boys had named her by the time they returned home. A child can name a dog within seconds; an adult can take days or weeks to make a decision. I have a friend that has had a dog for two years and has still not chosen a name. He calls it “dog”.

Fonzie quickly took a liking to Princess and became very protective of her. I have a photo of Arlene holding Princess in her hands; she was so little that she looked like a miniature dog. Then the day came when she towered over Fonzie. I think he never noticed that because in his doggie mind she always was his baby. He’d lick and clean her, he taught her how to use the doggie door and poop outside, how to get in trouble when he led the escape, and they were a good match temperament-wise. We only had to teach her simple commands and she was a fast learner and an easy puppy to raise. Both dogs were calm and people always asked if Princess was Fonzie’s mom. I enjoyed watching them running and playing together; they always made me smile.

The cat’s meow

The menagerie was growing with reptiles, birds and fish in our home as well as the dogs. As I left to work one morning I noticed a black and white kitten sitting in front of our home. I carefully approached him and quietly said, “Go home if you like your freedom. There are a bunch of crazies in that house. They’ll adopt you and have you neutered. Run, run.” As I opened the door to my office I heard the telephone ringing. I quickly answered. It was Lewis, our younger son. “Guess what Dad. We now have a kitten”. He then proceeded to tell me the story of how he found a black and white kitten in front of our home and how it really likes him, “He purred when I picked him up; can I keep him?” he asked. “Lew, you know I’m allergic to cats. The only way we can keep him is if he lives outside. Now that wouldn’t be kind or fair, would it?” He handed the phone to Arlene, “Yes, dear we’ll keep him outside; you can build a little house and it can be heated. That’s how mittens became part of our family; he lived to be sixteen-years-old. He commanded respect. When we’d walk out the door with Fonzie and Princess, Mittens would be waiting. The dogs would walk around him being careful not to get too close or risk a swat, and then we’d all go for our walk. Mittens walked close to houses, stopping to hide near trees to make sure he was safe, and we walked in the street. He’d greet me when I came home from work by jumping on the hood of my car and walking towards my side window. I only petted Mittens once and that was before the vet put him down. I wish I could have petted him more.

Little Fonzie lived with us for seventeen years before he died and we have his ashes sitting on a shelf in the family room. We have all our pets in containers with their photos on them (The furry pets, that is.)

It’s only temporary

Our eldest son dated a girl that worked for a veterinarian and asked if we’d foster a puppy for a few days, to save her from being destroyed. They soon stopped dating so we temporarily watched Meg for sixteen years. It’s funny how those things work. Well, puppy Meg loved Princess and she’d jump on her when she was sleeping and bite her ears and tease her just as Princess had done to Fonzie when she was a puppy. Princess would lick Meg and clean her as Fonzie had done to her. Meg had become Princess’ “baby” and they were good together.

Meg became our shadow and would follow us from room to room. I’d often play hide and seek with her and hide and just yell her name and she’d begin the search. There was no hiding from her, she always found me. When Princess passed we drove down to the no kill shelter to find a friend for Meg. We noticed a blonde terrier mix running free in the shelter. She approached Arlene to be petted. I asked why the dog was not caged and was told that the dog had been in the shelter for a long while and has full freedom to roam around. “She really likes women and will sit on our lap to be petted or next to us when we eat. Her name’s Scruffy”. A scruffy looking dog, she looked as if she had been born from the same litter as Meg, only she as an apricot color. We were now guardians of a blonde dog for my beautiful blonde wife and a black dog for me with my black hair.

I quickly learned that “she likes women” means she hates men; if a man gets too close he’ll most likely get bitten. She runs around free means we’re all too scared to even put her in a cage; she’ll bite our fingers…she’s a pit bull in terrier clothing.” One of my wife’s many wonderful attributes is that she can make what seems impossible work out well. She told me never to touch Scruffy, or play with her, and then she would fit right into our family. I wasn’t allergic to the Terriers so they were allowed in our room at night. The only time I’d have to confront Scruffy was to make her move off of my side of the bed; she raced me to the bedroom at night and got up on the bed before I did. I aimed my water gun at her and she was gone. After all, how long can a grown man sleep on the floor? She eventually got the message.

Both pups lived with us for fourteen wonderful years and ultimately joined our other friends on the shelf.

The Bichons

Arlene realized that I had not experienced the physical and emotional attachment that the rest of the family had towards our dogs in the past. Now that we were empty nesters she thoughtfully sought out a breed that I could enjoy as much as she. What does that mean? It means that I am now able to feed, bathe, brush, groom, and do the work necessary to keep them healthy. Having an allergy isn’t always a bad thing, but having a wise wife can be. The Bichon Frise breed won out. Our first Bichon was purchased from a couple that was recommended to us by a friend. We were both drawn to the same puppy and would not negotiate for a living creature but did ask that we be given a fair price. Our Granddaughter Brenda immediately named her Angel, something she definitely was not. We were ready to return her after two weeks; she was a chewer and her teeth were so sharp we bled. We thought we had purchased the dog from hell. This was soon to change. Angel now loves to greet everyone coming to visit us and feels that they’re coming to visit her; she loves everyone. Her one fault is that she will give too many kisses and lick you to death. When Angel was two, my honey suggested we adopt a rescued Bichon from Small Paws Rescue. Arlene and I always seek G-d’s will in our decision making and having viewed about 50 photos of dogs on the Petsavers website, we prayed for guidance and when we awoke we both chose the same little guy, “Joey”. We paid for Joey’s physical exam and airfare into Jacksonville. Two months had passed and we noticed that Joey was having difficulty jumping up on the couch so we took him to our vet. X-rays were taken and it was determined that he had a ruptured disc. There are a limited amount of surgeons within the USA that perform this surgery and two were within five miles of our home. We emptied our bank account and had the surgery performed. The recovery time was three months; during that time we wheeled Joey around in a human wheel chair for R&R; he needed to not walk for all that time. It was hard for all of us. Soon Joey was able to walk and jump again. Within a few years, Joey injured his left leg and spent another three months being pushed in a wheel chair. Angel liked to jump up there and join him some of the time. It was very sweet, each using the other as a pillow. Would you believe that a few years later, Joey injured his right leg? So it wasn’t a surprise when I saw Arlene walking towards me with Joey in a wheel chair again and Angel walking on a leash.

A lot of love

It’s difficult to describe the joy that’s received from taking on the responsibility of a dog. Some of our most wonderful memories have included our four legged friends. It’s always sad when one dies but the memories stay with us a lifetime. I receive a lot of love from our dogs. They always keep me company, never ask to use the remote, sit on my lap with their heads against my tummy and listen to me tell the same joke or story over and over again without once saying, I’ve heard that before. If you’ve never had a cat or dog live with you, try it; there is much to be gained. Their companionship is wonderful.

Enjoy the Spring weather, share a smile and eat kosher,
Mel (the fat guy)

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