No, not these deer. Though I do have to admit that I loved them at first sight. I mean my babies. My puppies. The warm, furry four-legged creatures that OWN my heart. It’s funny, because I never thought I would be one of those people. You know, like Uncle Eugene and Aunt Margaret, who were childless except for their tempermental, spoiled-brat-of-a-poodle Chi Chi. As an animal lover from birth who was raised with a multitude of pets (cats, dogs, fish, snakes, lizards, and birds…usually all at the same time), I rolled my eyes at the way my aunt and uncle treated Chi Chi. She wasn’t a real kid after all.
And then came Greta Garbo. I adopted her as a single lady — though my husband regularly reminds us both that he picked her. I had recently lost my cat, Lola, of 14 years, and I wasn’t ready to adopt another cat. A dog, I thought, would be great motivation for twice daily walks. I was excited about sitting at outdoor cafes with her tucked obediently under my chair.
Greta, on the other hand, came with other ideas. (Which, by the way, is why I wasn’t as sure as my future-husband about picking her.) As a Husky-Labrador Retriever mix, she is super-smart, super-sensitive, and super-opinionated. During obedience training, she would refuse to do her homework for us. When we got to class, however, she was the A+ pupil showing off her mad sit and shake skills. She quickly became bored with the whole concept of fetch (I know, right?), but she likes to show off at times that she can beat just about any other dog in the park to the ball…if she wants. She is also afraid of greyhounds, because they are the only dogs that have been able to keep up with her on a long sprint. She can be willful, but to be honest, I think that’s why I love her so much.
Greta and I lived the single gal life together for a couple months before moving in with my now-husband. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving of the same year, this little heartthrob wandered into our lives trailing a leash, full of worms, and covered fleas. The first time I picked him up, he laid his head on my chest…and I was lost. I think he drank his body weight in water that first day, he was so dehydrated. We tried to find his owner for a few days with no success. Greta immediately adopted him as her new puppy, so we kept referring to him as her little buddy. Before two days had passed, Buddy was answering to his new name.
Greta was thrilled to have a playmate who could run and jump with her. We hadn’t been able to match her hyper-puppy standards. These days, though, she tries to act like she is less-than-thrilled. She treats him like a typical big sister treats her pesky little brother. And she couldn’t live without him.
We don’t think that Buddy had the best (we approximate) four months of life before he found us. He came to us shell-shocked and over time developed some fear-based aggression toward anyone with whom he didn’t form a bond in the first six months of his life. We, admittedly, have changed our lives to protect this little guy…much to the chagrin of many of our friends and family. But he is the most loving and obedient dog I have ever known. Imagine a real-life My Dog Skip. He teaches himself more than we ever tried to teach him in his all-absorbing effort to please us. While Greta is more I-can-do-Algebra-equations smart, Buddy is all instinct and environmental cues. For example, Buddy is waiting on my husband to come home a few hours too early in the picture below. He’s confused, because it’s a rainy day and dark earlier in the day than usual; Greta knows better. Greta uses Buddy like a hunter uses a hunting dog to flush game; Buddy is just happy to be there and be pleasing her. A few days ago, I inadvertently shut Greta in our spare bedroom. Buddy did his best Lassie impersonation and cried at the top of the stairs until I came up to find out what was wrong. After opening the bedroom door, he ran around in circles with a grin on his face like “I’m a good boy. I did a good job.” Based on his behavior and looks, we think Buddy is part some-kind-of-Terrier and part some-kind-of-Collie. I’m not a parent, but loving these two dogs helps me understand how a mother can fiercely love two children in much different ways.
Oh my goodness, I could go on for pages and pages about these two animals. I admit it. I am a proud dog Mommy. I’m proud that these two canines are happy, well-fed, and safe. I mean, just look at the waggedy tail on this little girl. (And, yes, I have posted more pictures of Greta than Buddy. Isn’t that the way it goes with older children?)
So I am sorry, Uncle Eugene and Aunt Margaret, that I regarded your relationship with Chi Chi with such contempt. I was ignorant of the kind of relationship that a human can have with their dogs. My dogs are my children, and my other family and friends are rolling their eyes as they read this.