Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Today I am grateful for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. We recorded both nights and have not finished watching the results, but I was up early and the news was smacked with Miss P, a sassy, gorgeous beagle who is now the Queen of Everything.
When we first got married, it didn’t seem enough to combine his three kids with my two and his two Siamese cats with my two mutt cats. . . so we got a puppy. Madness. But who can resist the face of a beagle, even if he is a beagle/basset mix? No one! Copper (named for the storybook character) was adorable. . .a half-dog-tall and a-dog-and-a-half-long. . .like a canister vacuum. He was technically daughter Jennifer’s dog, but she was in her early teens so you know where this is going. It wasn’t long before Copper and I bonded.
He didn’t listen any better than a toddler, tugged like an oxen on the leash, stole food like Oliver Twist and was perpetually insulted if he had to move to the floor so that others could sit on the furniture. But when we walked at the almost deserted park one cold day and a crazy man started screaming at me for no reason, Copper situated himself sideways in front of me and each time the man took a step nearer, he barked like a maniac, hunched down, fur on his back at attention and growled like a grizzly. The man left. Good boy.
We always knew how many years we had been married because of Copper’s birthday. Since he’s been gone our standard line when anyone asks is, “We have no clue since the dog died.”
Copper was a character and the mainstay through many other additional dogs and nieces and even the first grandbaby. His feet turned out and his legs bowed. He smiled. On cue. Then he’d sneeze. Every time. He let the kids dress him up in anything and endured being dragged into the pool once every summer and learned how to avoid it the other 364 days because he hated it. Why he liked rain and muddy puddles and walking in the muck in the river, I never figured out. I guess it was clean water that irritated him.
That sturdy, short guy would stretch like a slinky and grab a cooling banana bread off of the kitchen counter, then stand at the door waiting, drool dripping off the loaf, while clueless teenage boys opened two doors to let him out, never noticing his booty. More than once. Dogs are way smarter than teenage boys.
Copper could flatten himself out like a flounder to wiggle under the back yard fence. I can’t count the times we had three separate cars traveling all over Bucks County looking for him, only to come home, exhausted and worried sick and see him waiting for us, sunning his dead-carcass-smelling-soggy-self on the bank across the street from our driveway.
Each time we brought a new puppy into the house, Copper would tolerate them chewing on his tail and diving at his neck only so long before body-slamming them with his twisted front paw. As they grew to be ten times bigger, he was still the boss of them. Short, perky, adorable, sassy and absolutely the best dog ever, he lived to a ripe old age, just like I hope the new Queen, Miss P does.
John and I are not in the position right now to be the full-time parents of a dog, but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss them terribly. I am grateful that the Westminster Dog Show gives us an opportunity to pretend we have a dog, if only for a few nights.