All my dogs have been neurotic. Many would suggest an obvious common denominator, but I’m still of the opinion it was just a freaky coincidence that they were – and are – all weirdos in one way or another. There was Pepper the beagle mix who ate more Tupperware than most people own and did so creatively. There was Lady the Boxer who never begged for food, but would drool for ice cubes. Then Camry the Boxer who could devour one of those 3-foot rawhides in zero time, but had a 3-inch soft chew “baby” that only had the tiniest (accidental) hole in it. Grace the Miniature Pinscher looked like a tiny Doberman, but would only sneeze when threatened. Tank the Boxer would pin my daughter down and tear the ponytail holders out of her hair and pin my son down and aggressively lick his ears. Currently there’s Smokey the Labrador who doesn’t retrieve and is terrified of water, Mac the Boxer who puts himself in time-out and pouts when he’s unhappy, and Abbey the Shih-Tzu mix who runs a post-dinner “schnoozle” on the couch that sends pillows flying and the bigger dogs running for cover.
But the worst of all was Mercy, the Boston Terrier mix who was born deaf. In her defense, we believe she was oxygen deprived during delivery when the sibling before her got stuck in the birth canal. Mercy had to be delivered by cesarean section, hence her name. My boy suggested it, saying she was born by the doctor’s mercy just as we’re born again through God’s mercy.
Well. End of name search.
Mercy was a hotbed of neuroses. She licked her feet constantly. She never barked, but had a growl that sounded like a tenor motorcycle motor. Although she would follow hand signals, if she was mad at you, she would look toward you then, as soon as you lifted your hand to signal her, turn quickly away. I swear she rolled her eyes.
Mercy’s biggest neurosis was she could not tolerate anything touching her she couldn’t see. Wearing a collar was practically torture for her and that cute game where you drape the tug-of-war sock across their back and watch them spin in circles would send her tearing through the house in a full-out panic attack.
We had large sliding glass doors leading to our backyard. One day as I was letting Mercy out, I noticed one of those cute little green tree frogs sucked up onto the glass at eye level. His legs were tucked up under him and I could see his little heart beating. When I slid the door open to let the dog out, the little froggy startle-reflexed, his legs going out to the side. After I carefully slid the door shut, he scootched his legs back in until they were again tucked up under him.
Cute. Totally cute.
I looked around for someone to impress. Hubs was at the end of the couch engrossed in a tv show. Not a good cute candidate anyway. So I called my teen daughter out to see. She stopped at the couch, frozen.
“Is it outside?”
I rolled my eyes. “It wouldn’t be cute if it was inside. Now come here.”
She reluctantly came over. I moved her closer to the little guy, pointed out the cute tucked-in legs, the little heart beating. She still wasn’t convinced of the cute, but was trying to be polite and placate me. Then I said, “Now watch,” as I reached for the door handle.
Mercy had her front feet on the ledge at the base of the door, ready to come in (she hated out – would have been happier litterbox trained). In order to guarantee that the little froggy startled sufficiently to earn the highest cute points, I jerked the door a little harder as I opened it.
Apparently it was too hard. Little froggy startled himself right off the door… And right on to Mercy’s back.
Mercy flew in the door in a panic and started a mad-dog run in huge circles, causing the frog to lose his balance yet again. Hubs became conscious of activity in time to see the frog in mid-leap and yelled, “There’s a frog in the house!” at which point HE leaped after the frog which jumped again and they both went up-and-down bouncing through the room. My daughter had made it the ten feet from the door to the couch without touching the floor and was hugging her knees and rocking. I think she was whimpering.
A few moments later, Hubs had Frog and deposited the poor thing back outside, and he stood, hands on knees and puffing. Mercy was puffing in the middle of the floor, her eyes wild, tongue lolling out. Daughter was still rocking and puffing on the couch. I’m sure the poor little frog was puffing in the grass outside as he high-tailed it out of crazyland. I, on the other hand, was standing calmly in the same position, my hand still on the door handle.
“See?” I said in the now-silent room. “Wasn’t that cute?”
It’s probably best to just end the story there.