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Sunday, September 24, 2006


Unretouched photo of my mom's dog-August, 2006

My main assignment during my house-sitting sabbatical is the care and feeding of my mom's dog, Mame. The dog is now nearly twelve years old and, being a chihuahua, has gotten worse with age, yapping constantly and generally being an ambulatory irritant.

When my mother first got Mame, she was feeling terribly lonely and figured that a dog would be a good companion. Not having the energy to deal with a big dog, she opted for a pedigreed chihuahua and sought out a breeder who operated a puppy farm upstate and shelled out a hefty sum for a tiny, housebroken pup. I was there when my mom picked Mame up, and I have to admit that she was cute as all get out, but what puppy isn't?

Upon getting the dog home, my mother steadfastly refused to train the dog in any way since the housebreaking had already been done, so what else was there to do, right? With that philosophy in place, so began a reign of diminutive canine tyrrany that continues unabated to this day.

If you know anything about canines or have ever had one in your household you know that as pack animals dogs need to understand who is the Alpha in your home's pack, and if you want any peace it sure as shit can't be them. Once she was old enough to realize that she could get away with murder, Mame became obnoxiously spoiled and for all intents and purposes trained my mother's behavior to such an extreme degree that the dog demands that my mother carry her all over the place rather than actually walk herself. That lead to the dog becoming the fattest asthma hound I have ever seen, and since she gets no excercise the only way to keep her within a healthy weight is to strictly ration her food, a move that only makes her even more vicious.

Yes, the cute little dog seen in the photo has a mouth full of sharp needle-teeth, and if anyone attempts to pet her or pick her up — unless she's known you for a long time, and even then it's kind of iffy — she'll go after the offending party like a buzzsaw on crack. She even pulls that behavior on my mother, who excuses it by saying, "Oh, she's sorry she did it," even as the fucking beast goes on snarling and attempting to remove a chunk from her arm.

All dogs will hang around the kitchen or dinner table in anticipation of something falling to the floor or a tasty morsel handed out by you, but if you want to discourage such behavior you have to start early in the relationship and stand firm in your position or else the dog will totally ignore you. One thing my mom does that drives me crazy is to sit there at the table and tell Mame that she must not beg, and that "No, there's nothing for you," and then hand-feed her items from her plate. Then she'll yell at the dog for having the temerity to keep begging. Talk about sending mixed messages...

During other times when I have been left to care for the hell-beast, she bristles at my refusal to take her shit and mopes about, refusing to eat and shitting and pissing all over the place as a form of protest. She gets over it after a few days, but it's distressing to see her so miserable and not eating, because even though she can be a pain in the ass I don't want to see her suffer.

So here I am, while my mom whoops it up in Hawaii, caring for this stroppy, spoiled brat, and thanks to her now arthritic legs she can't walk down stairs (up stairs is no problem), so I have to pick her up to take her outside to use her paper. To do this I have to don a pair of thick leather workman's gloves to thwart her deadly teeth, and once she's done her business she runs back upstairs, sits on her pillow and sulks. For the first couple of days this time around, she would try to fight me tooth and nail if I picked her up, but she very quickly realized that she was powerless against the gloves. Not one to let her displeasure go ignored, the next few times I picked her up she spitefully pissed all over me and any furniture she happened to be near at the time. Finally getting fed up with such treatment, all I could do was put down a garbage bag covered with paper on the kitchen floor tile and hope for the best. Thankfully, Mame is apparently tired of fighting too, and today I was blessed with properly used paper and no need to "suit up" for combat.

I just hope things stay calm for the remainder of my stay, but I know this dog very well and have reason to suspect that she may have more mischief up her sleeve...

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