Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flashback: And so the Romance Begins Between McTavish J. Puppy and His “Master” (Only Technically).

[Continuing the memoir for my kids and grandchildren].

At 2 a.m. in the midst of his first night at home with his new adoptees, McTavish J. Puppy, then two weeks old, began to complain loudly in his cage on the sun-porch…which woke me up (sleeping on the couch). I pulled him out of the cage and perched him on my chest as I lay there in the dark. He began to cover me with kisses which he was wont to do anyhow. Dogs, as you must know, are completely self-engrossed creatures, having been created thus by God who meant them to be supremely concerned with survival.

But Puppy was a bit different. He expressed thanks for the rescue and looked at me steadily with his deep brown eyes.

“I thought,” said I, “that you would feel secure in your cage. At least that is what the dog manual says. You are content within four close walls to give you a sense of security.”

You read wrong, he intimated, continuing to lick my face. I deeply miss all the other dogs and the fragrant smells in Aunt Betty’s house.

“Fragrant smell! My eyeglasses steamed over when I entered the place. There are more dogs in that house than the Health Department warrants, assuredly.”

It is what you are used to. I was fast asleep until now when I woke and began the miss the chaos and the cacophony of Aunt Betty’s. Tell me, will I like it here?

“I dearly hope so. Now all two pounds of you are lying on my chest which rather makes it hard to breathe. But what say you lie next to me on this soft couch and sleep? It’s only 2 a.m.”

I’d prefer to lie on your chest but now that you’ve moved me I will lie next to you on this couch but very close to assure me of a human presence. This is what I used to do with all my colleagues in the same bed as Aunt Betty.

“Good night! You mean she slept with all of you?”

All of us who could fit in the same bed. Some of us would tumble out and cry to be pulled back which she would do.

“I have one worry, however.”


“You aren’t housebroken and the mistress of this house will be angered if you behave as you did with Aunt Betty on this couch. Why don’t I return you to your cage and let us begin the procedure of training you tomorrow, our first day together?”

Well, if you insist.

“I am sure you would feel better with the security of the cage and the fact that I am sleeping nearby. I know I would without worrying unduly about your free-spiritedness on this couch.

You will remain here?

“I will. Only a few steps away from your cage.”

Very well.

“I’ll just pick you up like this and give you a tender kiss goodnight like this—and then carry you to your cage.”

Is what you just did a kiss? Bringing your lips together in a smacking sound on my mouth?

“Yes. It is what humans do.”

Very well. It is strange. We lick. You--.


You will stick around here, very close?

“I shall. Now both of us should get some sleep.”

In the next few days, Puppy learned that whenever he felt the urge, he should go to the back door and be lifted up to a cage in the garage. Soon he had accomplished this lesson. That was a major achievement.

“I am proud of you,” I said.

This is something we never had to do at Aunt Betty’s.

“I fully understand. But this is something you will get the hang of soon.”

What do you call this again?

“Civilization. We relieve ourselves in a certain place—I in the bathroom and you in the tank in the garage and not wherever you pleased as at Aunt Betty’s.”

Ah well. I will try to remember. You will take me for walks and continue to throw the stick?


Will I continue to get treats that you introduced me to today?

“Of course.”

Then we’ll continue to get along fine. You notice that occasionally I run through the house in a wild fashion, turning on a dime, from room to room as fast as I can just to get the thrill of speed in my legs while you call out “crazy puppy!” as if I were demented?

“Yes, that’s fun.”

. And that I like to tug on the leash when we take a walk in hopes that you’ll tug back?

“I do. Charming.”

Then I go to sleep in a secluded nook near the kitchen.

“I’ve noticed that.”

Well, I’m adjusting somewhat.

“Very well, too.”

Whenever I can think of something you can do for me I’ll let you know. I think we will get along fine.

“I’m sure we will.”

One thing. I notice I get one treat every time I come in from the tank in the garage. That’s to--.

“Encourage you to follow that routine.”

I understand. But only one treat at a time?


Not two? I have been hoping for two.

“I realize that. But this is how the world works. Not as many treats as we would like, what we call…”

Civilization. See? I’m catching on.

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