Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dogs. Do You Get What You Pay For?

As you know, I have three dogs. Abby, an eleven pound King Charles Spaniel, who believes she is a beautiful baby princess because we tell her that every day. Max, our "special" 13 pound King Charles Spaniel/Bichon cross. And Sam, the 28 pound liquor store dog who thinks he is an eight pound puppy.
Before we got Abby, I took an Internet test to see what dog breed was right for me. I wanted a small dog, that does not bark, pee in the house- could possibly use a litter box or toilet, is good with the kids, does not need to go on a lot of walks, does not shed, and is not hyper. After I typed it all in, the wheels were turning while concocting our results, I fully expected it to say the perfect dog would be a cat. I did not want a dog. Scott's, husky/wolf/devil dog constantly peed on everything, including the children, me, the cars, bikes, strollers (with the baby in it), other dogs, the slide and of course my new beloved deck, and ruined anything good we owned had died two years earlier and I thought "Thank God. We are never getting another dog." Scott wanted a dog. We made a deal that I could pick the breed. Not knowing anything about dogs and spending my entire life loathing them due to the fact that all of my relatives lived on farms, therefore they had farm dogs. When farm dogs see little blond girls, it apparently reminds them of something they must knock down and turn into a chew toy. I remember growing up and into my late teenage years, worrying for days about knowing I was going somewhere and they had a dog. Also, it didn't help that my in-laws were major "dog" people. When I met Scott they had three dogs. THREE DOGS! I'd tell people this and we'd both agree they are certifiably nuts! They reminded me of the Saturday Night Live skit where they lady would hold her dog in front of her and talk for it as if the dog was talking and go on and on about "loving dogs". The last thing I wanted was a dog. The Internet results came in. King Charles Spaniel. They are wonderful with kids, don't shed, are evenly mild tempered, are loving and basically perfect. I didn't believe it. Scott thought his monster dog was perfect. My uncles thought their dogs who knocked down little girls and drug them around was perfect. The in-laws who had dogs who barked so shrilly, I continuously checked the side of my face to make sure my ears weren't bleeding, thought their dogs were perfect. I had my doubts. I put it out of my mind. It was a mute subject for about six months until I was on my way to pick up the boys from daycare after school one day and I heard on the radio that someone was donating a King Charles Spaniel puppy for the Christmas wish program a radio station was hosting. People were suppose to bid on the puppy and the money would go to the Christmas wish, which would in turn go to help a needy family in the area. Wanting very much to donate to the Christmas wish in my mom's memory, it peeked my interest. I heard the puppy whine on the radio. I was a done deal after that. Knowing this breed is expensive I assumed I had plenty of time to make my bid because who in their right mind would pay good money for a dog? I called the radio station and bid 350.00. The DJ assured me I was the high bidder and would likely win. I raced to pick up the boys and told them we were going to West Achers, where the Christmas wish program was taking place, and expected to take home my puppy. We arrived. People were man-handling my puppy! There was a line of people to hold my puppy! They were taking pictures on their phone with MY puppy! How dare they? She is MINE! When I arrived I told the DJ, "I am the one who bid 350.00 for the puppy." I was fully expecting the royal treatment, them to rip the puppy out of the puppy-hungry people's hands, and hand her over to me. He said, "Oh. The bid is up to 600.00. Do you want to bid again?" This was the approximate time when my e-Bay fascination and competition was at it's peek. I already made an inner pact that I will never be outbid, and I will not allow it now. I bid again. After I bid, I thought I should alert my husband so he will know why so much money was coming out of the checking account. Minutes after I bid, I was outbid. The "auction" was only suppose to go until 6:00. So I had a plan. Do what all good e-Bay winners do. Wait until there are 30 seconds left and outbid the last bid. The kids were five and three. They wanted to pet the puppy. They wanted to eat. Ethan wanted to go home. We waited. We were still in line to pet the puppy. We were there for an hour and had not touched the puppy. Anxiety got the best of me and I bid again before 6:00. Scott showed up, told me to "STOP IT!" The bidding war continued past 6:00. It continued past 7:30. The kids were starving, but I was not leaving without my puppy. They have the rest of their lives to eat. At 8:00, it was between one other person and me. That woman already had a King Charles Spaniel and a spoiled teenager who "wanted her own..." Are you kidding? I have two young boys and NO dogs. I deserve it more!! I was holding the puppy and was not willing to let her go. The radio station manager decided to stop the madness and told us each to write down an amount we were willing to spend. The puppy goes to the highest bidder and the money goes to the Christmas wish. I am embarrassed at how much I wrote down. It was more than our mortgage and car payment combined at that time. Well, the money granted three Christmas wishes and our family got our wish. We named her Abby. I fell in love with Abby. She was like a baby you could leave alone during the day. After more research we found out this breed can't really be left alone or they will get sad, and they are predestined to hip, heart and eye problems. I didn't care. I loved her. She is suppose to be a pretty, pretty princess but she is the first one to splash through mud puddles, roll in the wet leaves/dirt, and dig to China in the sand, as well as the only one to do hard time after being arrested by the dog catcher for getting loose. At any given time, she is the stinkiest and dirtiest one of the three. She also is the only one that needs her teeth cleaned at the vet, as well as the only one who has vision and ear problems. Two years later we decided to get Abby her own pet so she wouldn't be so sad when were weren't at home. That was an easy choice. One day Scott called me up and said, "Do you want your birthday present a month early?" "OK" That night we went to West Achers to meet Maxie's owner and came home with a six week old fur ball. To this day Ethan thinks dogs come from West Achers. Max is "special". He's not so smart. He runs into stuff. He thinks he's hiding under the bed when his butt and tail are sticking out. He'll crawl into a sleeping bag and not be able to find his way back out. Some see it as intellectually challenged. I see it was perfect. He would never run away when he gets loose, unlike Abby the ex-con. Maxie might try but then I'd say, "Max" and he'd come running back. Max lets you hold him like a baby and goes limp like a baby would in your arms. He also lets you wrap him up like a baby in a baby blanket. When he takes a bath, he just lays down in the tub, which makes my job so much easier. Max is the most quirky. He has to sleep above my pillow between the the pillow and headboard, he hides in his kennel when Sam gets to be too much for him and with his small mouth, he refuses to play fetch. Max is also scared of people, "stranger danger" is a big fear for him. Once he was sitting on my mother in law's lap and she started talking. He got this look on his face of pure panic. I think he thought he was on my lap. He loves his mama. Sam was the unplanned "free" child. Scott rescued him from a cold watery death at a liquor store at the ripe old age of three weeks old. We didn't know what breed he was. Turns out he's probably some kind of Cocker/Brittney/Springer Spaniel mix. He thinks he is an eight pound dog. He tries to curl up on your lap like the others. He is scared to jump off the rocking chair or swing on the deck. He's scared of the vacuum, as well as any animal bigger than Max.
Abby continues to be the most expensive with the teeth cleaning and extra visits to the vet for her ears/eyes, as well as bailing her out. Max is the next most expensive because he needs his hair cut, although he lets me do it, he is embarassed when I do. And Sam remains free. He is the picture of perfect health. With all of the research and price that went into Abby, I can't say I love her more than the other two. I love them all the same but for different reasons. I can't believe we are now the certifiable nuts who have THREE DOGS! They make a mess. You can't leave them to go on vacation. Sometimes they are loud. They interrupt my sleep.However, I know I wouldn't want it any other way.
This week, one of my students saw my school pictures laying on my desk. She is one of my sweetest students. She also happens to be the same girl who told me I look very different than I did when I taught them in Kindergarten.
"Mrs. Fairfield, when did you have your picture taken?"
I answered, "Before school."
"OH. That must be why you are so dressed up."
"I wore the same thing all day."
"Well, here you have on make-up and your hair looks nice."
Really? 8:15 I look nice. When the bell rings at 8:20 I am a mess.

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