What’s wrong with this picture? Miss Puppy Clouseau and I have now been playing the “What is it you really want?” game for almost two hours. Miss Pup was a rescue, as all of my dogs have been. We were told she’d been abused, which may still account for some of her quirks and ticks after nine wonderful years with us. She is queen of her domain, and color-coordinated with just about every room in our house, perhaps not coincidentally, and owns every chair in the place as well as our king-sized bed. I’m sure some of you can relate.
But back to the “What is it you really want?” game. Miss Pup recently recovered from a brief episode of something like kennel cough, no doubt contracted from all the fun sniffing and peeing (where does all that pee come from???) she does on her walks. My husband calls that behavior “instant messaging,” which is cute. Anyway, the night the coughing started, we were up all night with her, stopping just short of dragging her into the bathroom and turning all the faucets on, as I used to do with croupy little Christopher. In the morning, we took her straight to the vet, whose comforting message was that her dogs had it, too, and that it would likely ease on its own in a few days. Which it pretty much did. By the way, just like that rattle that goes away the minute you take your car to the garage, she didn’t cough at the vet’s. Not once.
Let me preface the rest of this story by stating outright that, even though the kids are fully formed adults now, I am still the “mom” in the house. Which means that, most of the time, I attend Miss Pup if she’s ailing. For instance, I slept on the floor with her when she had elbow surgery. I don’t let my husband do these things because, as he has been generally averse to sleeping like a normal person most of his life, the few hours of winks that he does get are worthy of protection. Miss Pup, by the way, though probably mostly Maltese, is pure sheep dog at bedtime. She’d herd us into that Tempur-Pedic® at 8:30 if she had it her way.
Last night, Pup had another coughing spell, though this time not so alarming. Thinking that a rush of cool air would help, I took her for a block-long walk, which seemed to calm the cough right down. Then we all went to bed. Pup curled up and went right to sleep, leaving me the usual two inches’ clearance, but at 4 started nagging to go out. She did this first by climbing on hubby and peering straight down at him like one of the doggies in James Thurber’s cartoons*. Realizing that nothing good would come of it if I didn’t respond, I got up and took her out. She peed and we all went back to bed.
It became very clear very quickly, however, that peeing wasn’t the problem, and that she wasn’t interested in sleep. So Pup and I got up. She lay on the couch beside me for a while, then perked up and seemed to want breakfast. I gave her a little less than usual because of the early hour. She gobbled it up, but there was still no satisfying her. She moved on to what I call her “insisting” behavior, which involves relentless whining, climbing up on my lap, and licking my hand furiously. Thinking she had to pee again, I opened the garage door and stood there with her, only to have her sniff around without so much as an IM (see paragraph 2, above). Our neighbor, meanwhile, had the great treat of going off to work with a vision of me in my schleppy bathrobe, flannel PJs, and mukluks. Pup and I went back inside, but the next round of whining began almost immediately. I responded by giving her the rest of her breakfast, which she again gobbled up. She quieted down a bit but still had that “You haven’t satisfied me” look on her face as she sat staring at me from the wingback she assumes is her own, along with all of the other furniture in the house.
Eventually, Pup went to sleep. I, of course, did not. I did somehow manage to read another chapter of The French Chef in America, poke half-heartedly through my daily online reading list, and start this blog post. When I started to hear a few birds outside, I opened the shutters to let the light in, and made an espresso. There would be no rest for the weary. “Jim the Trim Guy,” our favorite carpenter, was due at 8, and my Pilates class would start at 11.
You know how this ends. I got through the carpentry and the Pilates, but at about 2, all bets were off. Cranky and dragging, I eschewed food and fell asleep at 8:30. My husband wisely kept a wide berth. Pup, meanwhile, showed no further signs of discomfort or infirmity.
*Possibly an obscure cultural reference if you are not of a certain age. Thurber wrote books and stories including, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” My personal favorite is “The Night the Bed Fell on Father,” which, though it will seem dated, quaint, and/or odd to some readers today, still makes me laugh out loud. He wrote and produced fabulously funny cartoons for The New Yorker and has been called the greatest American humorist of the 20th Century. His “dog” cartoons and insights into the behavior of man’s best friend are priceless.