On Pets, or, "Oops, I run a dog fighting ring."
When I was a kiddo, my mom got me a little Scotty dog. For our regular commute we drove past the highway signs for the Golden Gate Bridge pretty often, and I used to get a kick out of how it said "GG Bridge" -- gimme a break, I was like five! -- so naturally "GG" was an awesome name for a dog. We had the dog for maybe a month or so, before we came home one day to find GG's little chain cut, and GG gone. I blame it largely on the neighborhood I was growing up in at the time, and the fact that little Scotty dogs no doubt fit nicely into cooking pots.
My next attempt at pet ownership involved a pair of goldfish -- no doubt won from the county fair or something similar -- that I named Bo and Luke. Like many similarly priced goldfish, they died. I likely wouldn't have a plethora of fond memories of them even if they hadn't gone belly up so quick, because they were just damned goldfish anyways and let's keep some realistic expectations, here, people. It's not like you can pet them, walk them, teach them to do tricks, or whatever.
Then came Tiger. A kitten that I saw being born, from my aunt and uncle's old housecat. While the slimy little thing wasn't terribly adorable at the time, when my aunt gave him to me as a birthday gift a few months later, his cuteness factor had much improved. I loved Tiger, but my mother disagreed. He was pretty rambunctious, liked to claw stuff up, and she just disliked cats as a general rule. I spent a weekend at my dad's once upon a time, came home, and Tiger wasn't in the window to greet me. Instead, we had a glorious new couch! Ta-da! My mom had dumped him off at the shelter in order to preserve the new furniture she had plans for. Surprise! Couch! Surprise! No cat!
My final attempt at childhood pet rearing came once my mom and I moved to Kentucky. Part of our deal -- by "deal" I mean "things a parent says to calm a kid down before moving them a hojillion miles away" -- was that we'd have a yard, and in that yard I'd be able to put a dog. I got a lovable mutt from the county animal shelter, and immediately named him after Casey Jones, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don't judge me, it was 1989. Casey was a rambling man, though, and a four foot fence just couldn't keep moss from growing on a rolling stone, or...uhh...whatever. Anyways, Casey ran away. A lot. So mom made an executive decision a few months into Casey ownership, and -- Surprise! No dog! -- away he went. On the bright side, he was big enough that he wouldn't have fit into someone's crockpot, so I'm pretty sure no one ate him.
Now, I don't bring these up because I've been horribly scarred by my childhood string of lost pets, causing me to develop some serious trust issues and to keep a bitter tally of wrongs dealt me by my black-hearted mother, or anything. Honest. I mention these because they set the stage for just how it was that a 30 year old man could be so amazed and proud when he taught a dog to sit, how he could strut around at teaching a dog to shake, and how he'd amaze his friends and contemplate doggie sunglasses over teaching a dog "high five."
Boudicca -- or Bodie -- was my first real pet, basically. The long and short of it is that she's a gorgeous supergenius of an awesome dog that's stolen my heart.
"I'm a cowgirl!"
I mean, c'mon. Look at that! She was a heartbreaker when she was a wee little puppy and we found her at the pound, and she's only gotten more adorable as she's grown up. She picked up tricks like a champ, and genuinely impressed folks -- folks not like me, folks who had been around dogs more -- with how bright she was, how good she was learning, etc, etc.
"I'm thinking Wendy's for dinner!"
Bodie spoiled me.
Domina -- we were watching a lot of HBO's super-awesome Rome at the time -- is not as smart as Bodie. "Dommie" is a perfectly average dog, where Doggie IQ is concerned. She is terribly sweet natured, she has no idea how big she is, she's shy and kind, but when you compare her to the brilliance of Bodie, she's dumber than a box of rocks.
She's also not terribly ladylike:
"LOOK! I'm a girl!"
She has no idea that she's an 80 pound Black lab/Rottie/Whatever mix and could absolutely murder your average human being without trying very hard. She's scared of the wind, and of squirrels, and of people walking by on the sidewalk, and of friends and family who come into the house. She's the stereotypical "gentle giant," in that she's tremendously huge and powerful, but so sweet (and just a little dim witted) that it's a total non-issue.
Venus is our new girl. She's named after the fine (albeit tiny) town of Venus, Texas, where we found her. At a gas station. At two am. On a Saturday. Truth be told, she's a lot like a scrappy little streetsmart punk we took into our home -- like Leonardo DiCaprio in Growing Pains, on the off chance anyone remembers or cares -- to round out the cast of our little sitcom.
"My eyes are glowing because I'm powering up a special attack!"
She's very sweet with Mrs. Crit and I. And anyone else with two legs. But if you've got four? She hates you. Or, rather, sometimes she hates you. Things have calmed down since we took her in to get her fixed, but for a while there, she was strutting around and picking fights with Dommie and Bodie like it was nobody's business. She'd swagger through the house like a hard-boiled street ganger, and if they got too close, she turned into a Tasmanian Devil, leaping all around them, snarling and biting, and generally creating a martial art halfway between Ninjutsu and Mexican Wrestling.
She's about half the size of Bodie, and maybe one fourth of Dommie's size, but by God her little Terrier heart doesn't let that stop her from biting and jumping and generally getting her ass kicked.
Things have calmed down, luckily. She's only gotten into one real fight (as opposed to just playing) with Dommie since getting fixed, but in the days leading up to that vet appointment, it would happen two, three, four times a day. She looked like Rocky just before he invariably turns up the volume on the patriotic music and stages the comeback, y'know? Scabs here, scabs there, cuts near both eyes, ears all notched and torn, and just generally beaten all to heck.
I never wanted to be a dog fight promoter. But for a couple weeks there, that's what it felt like. Every time the girls had any reason to be excited -- one of us getting home, being let outside to potty, coming inside from potting, getting fed, getting treats, anything -- it was like I heard the old Street Fighter II video game music, complete with the weird Japanese voiceover guy shouting "ROUND ONE: FIGHT!"
Luckily, those dark, bloody, days seem to be behind us. All three of my fuzzbutt girls are sprawled around the house, sleeping adorably, occasionally waving paws and chasing squirrels in their dreams.