14. August 2006 · Comments Off on Shi Tzu Happens · Categories: Critters, Domestic, General, Pajama Game

We’re still working on that whole housebreaking concept with Spike, the Weevil I Know Nothing Of, or as Sgt/Cpl. Blondie calls her, “The Poop Factory”. Lately, Spike has been parking it in consistently pretty much the same place… lamentably, that place is NOT the out of doors, but we’re working on that, as well as purchasing paper towels in the multiple-roll packages. On the up side, Spike is a pretty fair and alert watch-dog, even if not a particularly intimidating one. I’m sorry, in her heart she may think she is a lion, but a six-pound-dripping-wet-pocket-puppy is not going to intimidate the crap out of an intruder, unless they are incapacitated by a phobia about small, yappy dogs… or fall over and hit their head, because they are laughing too hard at the spectacle of a tiny, noisy Shih Tzu with delusions of grandeur, bouncing up and down and menacing their ankles.

On the other hand, now I know why these people who do have these cute, ornamental toy breed of dogs, carry them around, constantly and ostentatiously! I used to think it was a kind of desperately hip affectation, and the dog was some kind of cute, trendy accessory… but now, through no fault of my own, I have one of those cute, somewhat trendy ornamental toy breeds… and let me tell you, people, it isn’t the owner’s notion…. it’s the dogs’ doing! Dogs have been associated with people for god knows how many millennia, they were bent and bred for our purposes, to do our bidding and with various specific jobs in mind; to herd sheep (border collies), or kill rats (rat terriers), to chase foxes (beagles), to assist the butcher in dispatching cattle (bulldogs), or the soldier in a similar job on enemies (mastiffs), to be draft animals (rottweilers), to dig burrowing animals out of holes (dachshunds), to run after coaches (Dalmatians), to assist dory-fishermen in hauling nets out of the water (Labradors)… In other words, for every dog breed under heaven, there was once a very specific purpose for it, and the very best of them know it to their bones and every fiber of their dog bodies, it is coded so deeply in their DNA that it comes out in their character and sometimes in the actions of those who have never otherwise come within a country mile of their ancestral mission.

I read some months ago of a young Labrador out for a walk with his owner along a scenic riverbank. The dog pulled his leash out of his owners’ hand, plunged into the water and swam to the rescue of a little boy who had been on an inner-tube excursion down the river, and had fallen off. He swam into the middle of the river, and dragged the boy back to the bank, performing as neat a life-saving exhibition as ever could be wished by the painters of sentimental Victorian scenes of the same, in response to his ancestral imperative. Everyone was properly astonished, of course… just as my close neighbors were, a couple of years ago, when they detected the presence of roof-rats, taking up residence in their garage. One of their family pets included a rat-terrier named Jessica, who enlightened them almost immediately as to the reason for the name of her breed, by her eagerness to sally forth into the garage, the resulting hunt-down of the prey and the efficient and total dispatch, once Jessica located them. She was swift, brutal, and so dedicated that she was trembling all over, once they let her loose, although to their certain knowledge, neither Jessica or her immediate ancestors had any first-hand notion of exactly what a rat was, or what indeed she should do about them. The ancestral mission came surging up to the forefront of that doggy brain, overcoming a century or so of conditioning as a family pet.

In the case of Spike, and the other toy breeds, they were bred and conditioned as companion animals, to want to be with or close by their chosen human, twenty-four-seven; in their lap, or at their feet, or as is said of the Chinese breeds, tucked into the sleeve of a long robe. Essentially, they want to be Velcroed to us… and that kind of adoration is hard to set aside. Spike sleeps in a little dog-nest under my bedside table, and when I am writing, she is under my chair, or sleeping on the bedroom rug, or in her doggie nest, in all cases not more than ten feet away. If I get up and move to another room, she follows me, watchfully. If I go outside, and she doesn’t come with me, she sits at the door that I went out of, or goes around to the slider door, or the dining-area window where she can see me, and claws frantically at the glass, until I come inside again. When I had to go to a temp assignment at the Enormous Corporate Behemoth for a week of administrative and creative work (to pay the bills, dontcha know, while I work on the latest Book) she was left in the crate for a good few hours. Even though Sgt/Cpl. Blondie came home at lunch from her job, and let her loose, Spike was so frantic by the time I came home, I had to carry her around in my arms for about fifteen minutes until she calmed down. All that time, of course, she was plastered to me, as clingy as a small child. Don’t even ask me about how she was, when I left her at the groomers’, the week before: talk about the huge-eyed and tearful look of betrayal, leaving a kid at pre-school has nothing on that.

So you see, all those celebs, carrying around those little toy dogs?— It’s the dog’s fixation, it isn’t the owners, I am convinced. Considering some of the celebrities involved, it just might be the dog is the intellectual powerhouse of the two, anyway

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