As far back as I can recall, my family has owned pets, or more accurately, they have owned us. My childhood dachshund, Fritz, possessed many of the character traits that my brother processed during his teen years. He had a history of sneaking out at any open opportunity. If he didn’t get his time to wander in the moonlight, he was downright cranky.
In the early years of motherhood I had a dog named Bailey. He was a Shetland sheepdog that, like me, was big for his breed. It is with him I realized that the words you say to your children eventually come back to bite you in the behind. That darn dog in my absence jumped up and ate a $70 chunk of Reggio Parmesan cheese that arrived from my friends in Italy. When the girls and I arrived home I told him he was a terrible, bad dog. My little one looked up at me and said, “He’s not a bad dog. He just made a bad choice”. He also made a bad choice when he got into the garbage and ate a discarded form of birth control. I had to call the poison control center and was horrified when they asked for my name. I told them I was Tishka Bambubkawitz. I came to this country for sexual freedom. Bailey made it through the ordeal. The only thing lost was my sanity.
Liz, a pre-named little Yorkie, arrived as a gift from my uncle. It is funny how the universe works its magic. As one little furry Liz entered our lives, my dear friend Liz left this earth after fighting an outright war against breast cancer. On the day we were to bury Liz, I went to collect the furry one from the backyard. I couldn’t find her anywhere even after repeatedly screaming her name. My neighbor came outside thinking I was screaming for my deceased friend. If she didn’t think we were just plain nuts before, this pretty much solidified it for her. I looked over at her and told her the last time I saw Liz she was in the bushes. She told me that not only is she in the bushes but in the sky above us and in our hearts. It took ten minutes for me to explain that I didn’t need to be medicated.
Liz grew into a wonderful pet even though she was a challenging pup. She loved to get into the diaper pail and savor her latest prize under the nearest bed. She also enjoyed chewing my children’s prized possessions. Their dolls looked as if there had been a serial killer on the loose with all the missing body parts.
Maggie arrived on the scene eight years ago. She is a Corgi with an attitude. I took her to the “Great American Mutt Show” and was informed by a pet psychic there that she had “height issues” especially in her relationship with me. I think, as the girls would say, that is a “no-brainer” considering I am a 5’10’’er and she has two inch legs.
Maggie is a great gal as long as I keep articles of clothing off the floor. If I leave anything with my scent on it she reacts with an,”Oh happy day!” I can’t decide if I should be flattered or disgusted. It is like having a stalker with fur.
The critters that have graced our lives have one thing in common. They love unconditionally. They don’t care about your current GPA, hairstyle, PMS status, or if you got around to making the bed. If you love them an inch they will give back for miles. In times of stress, having a loving wet nose to come home to is the best therapy a girl could hope for.
Mary Helen Darah has been in marketing and development for nonprofit organizations for the past six years, but her greatest role is being a mom to three amazing and diverse young women. Mary Helen has an innate ability to find humor in her trials, and hopes her writing will give others comic relief and insight through the challenges of parenthood.