Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meet Mischa

I've never had a puppy. Our family dog, Grumpy, was born when I was a sophomore in high school, and therefore never at home if I could help it, and angst-ful on top of that. I never really bonded with Grumpy the way my sisters did. Particularly when he was a puppy. I abstained from his care, feeding and training as much as possible. As I've become an adult, my cat-person-ness has become a very big part of me. I have ALWAYS had cats, they are among my closest friends and constant companions. When I lost my big Boogie cat almost two years ago, it was a worse heartbreak than I had ever imagined.

And then there's Ingrid. I certainly wasn't expecting her or prepared for her. It was an impulsive move, going from dog-owner-never to 140 lb St. Bernard in my backyard. It took me a couple of years to learn how to care for her properly, and to find the best place for her, both physically and emotionally. We've been together for almost six years now, which is shocking to me.

Then we semi-adopted my dad's golden retriever mix, Bridgette. Since Grumpy died last summer, Bridgette had been a little bit of a behavior problem at Dad's house, occasionally sneaking up the hill and stealing tools from his landlord's house (bad). She just needed companionship and guidance, and for a dog like Bridge, that really only comes from other dogs. She came up to stay with us in the spring, bonded instantly with Ingrid, and settled in pretty well at our house, particularly with Charlie Murphy, who was very affectionate with her. Cause he's that kind of kid.

A little back story here: Austin and I are amateur vegetable gardeners. We started with cherry tomatoes (quite by accident) the first summer that we lived in our house, and then expanded to herbs and heirloom tomatoes last summer, and this summer we wanted to tackle zucchini and cucumbers. Ingrid is not a destructive dog (what with her propensity to just lay) but last summer we had some troubles growing tomatoes with her help. In the summer, her propensity to lay becomes her propensity to lay in the coolest spot possible, and when we watered the tomato plants in the morning, the wet beds became, of course, the coolest spot in the yard. Her un-destructive-ness does not apply to anything she might try to lay ON. Most of our tomato plants grew parallel to the ground last summer. Enter Brigette, who is a digger. By spring she had decorated our yard with numerous ankle-risky sinkholes. So we surveyed our yard, surveyed our dogs, and decided to send them to my Dad's house for the summer. It's cooler out there, plenty of room to roam, and more covered shelter during thunderstorms, plus there is a creek, in which Ingrid likes to immerse herself multiple times a day. Having Ingrid-the-good-example out there has helped Bridgette control her klepto impulses, and so far everybody seems to be getting along well and having a good time. I feel a little guilty about this exile, and I do miss the Biggest particularly, but after a visit with them this weekend, I know they are doing great, as is our garden.

I've explained all of this so as to thoroughly illustrate how very unlikely we were to decide to adopt a puppy. I have repeatedly said in my 30 years, "I would never get a puppy." Mostly after visiting friends' houses that have been systematically destroyed by the youngest member of the family. Or after puppy-sitting for a friend several years ago, and her kid ate my favorite purse. Things like that. Once I saw a St. Bernard puppy at Petsmart and was shocked by my immediate thought that I'd been cheated out of a cute puppy by getting Ingrid when she was already full-grown, but immediately shoved it out of my mind. We have two adult dogs, more than I ever guessed I would want, and even those we've banished for the summer. And a house full of three cats who provide plenty of entertainment and affection (and require plenty of care and attention). We do NOT need a puppy.

About a month ago, the night of the Sopranos series finale (oh my GOD), we were at Stephanie and Charles's house, getting dinner together. Megan comes in and says, "There's a puppy out here."Everyone squeals and goes outside to see it, but I remained hardhearted and continued slicing eggplant. I knew better than to even SEE a puppy. I've been told that Austin went outside, took one look at it, and predicted that this puppy would spend the night in our back yard. I resisted for a while, ignoring everyone saying, "Delaney, you have to see this puppy," (I did NOT have to see a puppy!).Finally everyone was outside and I was getting lonely, so I went on the front porch. There was a brown-and-black Pile of Pitiful out there, chewing on a towel. I sat down, the pile climbed up in my lap, and I have to admit, it was probably that very moment when this puppy's future was cemented. As Grimey once said, "Pal, you've won the puppy lottery."

She did stay in our backyard that night, and went with me to the vet the next day. She was a total mess, missing lots of hair, scaly skin, fleas, etc. She weighed 9 pounds and had at least two types of intestinal worms. But she was sweet and patient, and actually fell asleep on the vet's table. When I asked the vet what kind of dog she thought it was, she just laughed.

We named her Mischa.

She's doubled in size in a month. 18 lbs on Monday, and still with some skin issues, but very treatable, according to the vet. Potty training has been an adventure for all parties, but this week has shown some significant breakthroughs. She has a blue sheep that is her best friend, and she carries it from room to room. She sleeps on her green bed in our dressing room. She very rarely crosses the threshold of our bedroom because she's (rightfully) terrified of Mackenzie. We are terrible disciplinarians and parents, and she sits on the couch with us while we watch tv or play on the computers. She gets along very well with other dogs, and especially with Charlie Murphy, which should come as no surprise by now. They play and play, which mostly involves Charlie laying lazily in his back or side, and Mischa zooming in circles around him, occasionally nipping at the air in Charlie's general direction.

As you saw in Monday's post, Mischa and Austin are in love. I've heard that dogs don't have a way to tell how much time has passed, and this seems especially true when she's been outside for any length of time without us (which does not happen very often). She leaps into the air like she's having hysterics and makes piggy whiny noises when we pick her up to comfort her. She comes to work with me most days, charming my coworkers, who are so patient with her.

Looks like we have a puppy.


k said...

Holy crap, that is a cute puppy.

J is constantly trying to convince me to get a puppy. But I'm like you, slicing the eggplant, just trying to avoid eye contact.

Because I know once I make eye contact with a puppy, it'll be sleeping in our bed 12 hours later.

Congrats on Mischa.

Thanks for the link.


laura said...

Awwww. She is lovely!