Friday, November 05, 2010
New Kid on the Block
Say hello to Chica!
After Gertie's accident we had pledged to never get another dog. Or at least to not get another dog for a long, long time. And for the first couple of months that seemed like a good idea. Even as we grieved for Gertie, we began to notice how much easier life was without a dog: bed-and-breakfast vacations without having to arrange for babysitting; no 2:00 a.m. potty runs outside; long-distance travel without the drama of having to manage a pooch's meals and bathroom breaks on the road.
Then one day we saw a lost dog, some sort of shaggy spaniel mix, on the busy highway running past our house. The dog, dragging a lead, shaking with fear, was trying to cross the road, dodging oncoming cars. I imagined a vehicle catching the lead on a tire. Fellow Traveler and I looked at one another in horror.
"I'm stopping," said FT. She pulled over.
But another vehicle, coming from the other direction, also stopped. The man who emerged from the pickup appeared to be an off-duty volunteer firefighter. He wove his way diagonally through the traffic and somehow managed to grab the stray's flapping lead. He quickly scooped up the frightened animal, wove through traffic again and placed the dog in the cab of his truck. We breathed a sigh of relief.
A few minutes later FT quietly admitted, "I could have taken that dog home. How about you?"
Several days later we caught one another scrolling down pages of dog photos on Petfinder.
Now it was only a matter of time.
A few mornings after this, I showed FT a photo of a dog at a dog pound in our area. FT returned to Petfinder to read about the dog. Then she said, "Hey -- look at the little brown dog at the same pound."
I'd missed this photo before. It showed a honey-colored beagle-sized dog with half-floppy ears, a cute little snubby nose and curly short tail. The information with the photo said that the dog was a female stray whose owner had never materialized, who had just come up for adoption.
"What do you think?"
We did, and were advised to come quickly.
And that is how Chica wound up at our house.
It's always amazing to me how unique dogs' personalities are (something that people who keep their animals on chains in their backyard never learn); and Chica is no exception. From the moment we saw her in her cage, subdued but not in despair like the dogs next to her, alert and cautiously friendly as we approached, we knew she was going to be a different pet than Gertie.
For one thing -- this little girl used to have someone who cared about her and took good care of her. She's well socialized with people and other pets alike (more about that later). She's also been well fed. (And she has an obsession with finishing half-cups of coffee with cream -- we discovered this her first morning with us -- that leads us to suspect that this was a special treat for her in her former home.) She doesn't have an air of neediness or neurosis, like many rescue dogs. Her only vice we've found is her compulsion to run outside, and away, at the slightest opportunity; which may be why she wound up in a shelter in the first place.
Chica is a cuddler. She is a licker. She is a blanket burrower -- the only dog I've ever seen who wants to crawl completely under a blanket and stay there for an extended length of time. (Be careful where you sit in our house.) She makes silly little snuffly sounds when she's happy. She has an awesome four-foot vertical jump. She loves tummy tickles. She doesn't love car rides per se, but she does enjoy going places, especially places where she can meet interesting people and other animals. She eats nearly everything. She likes early bedtime, and gets a little peeved when forced to watch TV with the humans beyond about 9:30 pm.
Mollie the cat greeted the news of a new roommate with shock and two days of pouting; she would look at Chica, then look at us with frank reproach in her eyes: How could you two do this to me? By Day Three her attitude had mellowed to that of tired resignation: My God, I hate training the new ones. Now, a month and several well-aimed wallops of feline paw later, Mollie and Chica get along fairly well, although Chica -- who loves and is absolutely fascinated by Mollie -- still has a hard time restraining herself from trying to give Mollie full-face kisses. Mollie, for her part, has ended the hissing and spitting and bloodletting, and now maintains boundaries and discipline through clawless whacks, delivered with matter-of-fact impassivity. No; that is not appropriate behavior...WHACK...no; that is still not appropriate behavior...WHACK...
So what breed is Chica, exactly? We have decided that she is a chihuawhat -- part chihuahua, part who knows what.