Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How a Dog Taught Me About a Man

This post was inspired by Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Man a memoir by Brian McGrogry. When Brian leaves his bachelor life to move to the suburbs and join his girlfriend and her two young daughters, he had no idea he needed to win over their rooster also. Join From Left to Write on November 21st as we discuss Buddy: How A Rooster Made Me a Man. As a member I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

To understand his side of the story, you must understand that he, in no way, benefited at all from her existence. Of course it's really a chicken and egg story, perhaps if he shared some kindness the love might have flowed back and the benefits would have been easier to recognize. As is, they marched around each other, one yelling, the other gassing, coexisting in a small space of unpleasantness.

He comes to this naturally; as he explains dogs were more of a commodity than family member when he was a child. Trouble remembering to feed the dog? Get rid of it! Dog chewed on your shoe? Get rid of it! Whereas in my family the dog was a cherished third child, always along on family vacations, draped casually on every piece of furniture we owned, forbidden from not one room,

But then, Eleanor did everything possible to arm Jack with dislike. Years ago, when she had only been with us for three months, she ate an entire cake, his birthday cake. We came home from a celebratory evening out to find that she had escaped from the safety of her room, climbed onto the dining room table, removed the glass cake dome (which lay shattered on the floor) and helped herself to every bit of a very rich chocolate cake, not one scrap remained. Two calls to the emergency vet sent Jack to the corner store in search of hydrogen peroxide (on a very cold and snowy January night). The remainder of his birthday was spent inducing vomiting in a very displeased beagle. His displeasure need not be mentioned.

It used to be that she slept at the foot of our bed, occasionally even snuggling deep under the covers. Until we woke in the middle of the night to the most horrible of sounds, a violently ill beagle at our feet, covering the antique embroidered French sheet that I had just bought in London with things we cannot ever speak of again. At about five months pregnant, still reeling daily from the smell of coffee, I was absolutely no help in cleaning the mess, and the mess was voluminous.

Beagles smell everything, they eat everything they smell, and they then vomit about half of what they eat. Eleanor, true to her self in every way, spent her happiest moments wandering the city ingesting everything that crossed her path. My path was then to the emergency vet late into the night, hoping once again that what she had eaten would not kill her, the only permanent damage being when Jack discovered what another round of Eleanor flu had cost.

Of course I should have known. He had no patience for my dog, the one who had been my constant companion for the years leading up to Jack. When he met Shenannigan she was old and blind, forever running into things left out of place, quite frequently Jack being one of those things. He was new in her old world; he took me away from nights at home with my dear old dog, she couldn't have been pleased.

When he agreed to a dog I ran to the nearest shelter, knowing that my window of time was tiny, that in an instant he could take back what he had stumbled over, "yes, let's get a dog". Eleanor moved in the next day.  Every year I hoped he would begin to appreciate the the companionship, the friendship, the comfort of having a dog. He appreciated her need to go outside at 11pm, the cost of keeping her healthy and the accommodation made for her aging dog body odor.

When Eleanor died last year Jack was in New York. He did what he does best, he took care of things because his wife and two daughters were far too emotional to function.

"If you must have a dog, as far as dogs go, I suppose she was all right".

All right? She was the best, and she was part of our family.

1 comment:

SusanB said...

Sweet bit of writing, dear ode to the dogs (and husband) in your life. I found your site while searching for a photo. Glad I stumbled upon you and yours.


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