A Tale of Two Tails

I am not a dog person but I’m trying hard to become one. Because I have a dog, and I think it would help. Actually, I have a puppy, which, I’m learning, is vastly different from having a dog. As a family we’ve had two dogs and maybe all the homework my 7th grader comes home with is making me nostalgic for the good ‘ol comparison/contrast essay because I’m itching to write one. So here goes:

Image           Tilly, our first dog, a mutt we rescued from a shelter, was afraid of everything. Everything. Men, cameras, storms, other people, other dogs…. you name it, she cowered. She had definite self-esteem issues and we’d try to diagnosis her past. “Perhaps an abusive man threw a camera at her once during a storm…” It’s possible. One of Elijah’s friends aptly summed up her countenance: “She always looks embarrassed.” She did. I’m convinced she was hiding some dark secret from her past because she wore a perpetual expression of shame. We told her over and over she was a “good girl, a good girl!” but it never erased her anxiety.

She was also passive aggressive, but not in an overly aggressive way. For instance, when I was away at a writers’ conference for a few days she peed on my daughter’s bed three times. To get back at me for leaving her. She knew exactly what she was doing when she choose the littlest person’s bed, the person I take care of the most. Tilly knew this, and she used it against me. But she loved me so so much—in a completely passive-aggressive way—but still. When she began to physically fall apart we talked with a woman at the humane society for a long time who looked at me and said, “You’re her whole world, you know” which made me feel kind of bad because I didn’t really want her at first. But I did like our walks together and I did like how she laid under my desk and served as my foot warmer while I wrote. She came with the name Tilly but we dubbed her Matilda Brown, because she was such an old lady grandma dog. She didn’t do much. Didn’t play fetch. Never barked. Hardly jumped up on people. Particularly toward the end of her life, she just wanted to be walked and left alone. Sweet Matilda Brown.

Now we have Lulu, a puggle. Lulu is the antithesis to Tilly. She has no shame. No fear. If she is afraid of anything it’s disguised by pure lunacy (Huh- interesting connection to her name…). Currently, she is confined to our family room (because of the wood floor) but I was hoping, someday, she could be trusted on carpet and warm my feet. When my daughter wheeled my office chair over to the table a few days ago, Lulu saw it and went postal, barking as if fending off Satan himself. So much for being my writing buddy. A week ago she nearly tied up my neighbor with her leash, in his words wrapping his legs “like the Lilliputians did to Gulliver in Guliver’s Travels” (such a wonderful literary comparison it warmed my heart despite of my embarrassment.)

But she does play fetch, (she doesn’t’ drop yet but we’re getting there) She does, when she calms down, love to cuddle. She likes to climb your shoulder and bury her nose in your neck, if you let her. She is hilarious. She makes me laugh, and yell, and wonder if it’d be okay to give her a dose of Benadryl now and then.

I like to imagine what it would be like for the two of them to meet, Lulu and Tilly. If Tilly’s patience would wear thin and she’d put the little ding-dong in her place.

Based on the length of this post, I guess maybe I am turning into a dog person. Very, very slowly.

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