Open Mic Essay: A Tale of Two Dogs
I never wanted a dog. Growing up, my main interactions with dogs involved being chased by the junkyard variety.
Years ago, my ten-year-old son, Ian, began lobbying for a dog just before his remaining sibling headed off to college. This last child desperately did not want to be left alone in a house with aging parents.
I tried to dissuade him. “You do have a pet. You have that nice hermit crab.” The day we dropped off Ian’s brother at college was a rough one, but rougher still for Ian who came home to a DEAD hermit crab. That night, Bruce and I sat outside discussing whether to relent. As we looked up, we spotted a shooting star cross through the constellation Cassiopeia. Being of Italian heritage, I viewed the celestial event as A Sign. The next day we called a breeder who said a litter of golden retrievers had been born the night before (A Further Sign). So, we bought one and named her Cassiopeia, Cassie for short.
Cassie turned out to be a mellow puppy. She only destroyed one item by chewing it, the power cord of my laptop. She didn’t dig, except one hole, once, under the backyard fence. Cassie usually stayed put, even when off leash. Once, she disappeared while I was gardening. I frantically searched our field, the woods by Ivy Creek, and the neighboring streets. I came home to find the dog languidly snoozing on our front step.
Cassie became frightened by the usual stuff, fireworks and thunder, but also by her metal feeding bowl if we dropped it slightly instead of sliding it toward her. She didn’t like the heat, rain, wind, snow or walking uphill. Yet, Cassie was always thrilled to see me, never talked or barked behind my back and loved to snuggle. I felt devastated when she died unexpectedly from a tumor in her heart.
I felt so bad that after a year of being dog-free, I convinced Bruce we needed another puppy, a nice hypo-allergenic, non-shedding golden doodle. Sadie did not arrive on the night of a shooting star, but she definitely travels at the speed of light. Whenever Sadie realizes she’s not on a leash, she’s off like a shot, with nary a backward glance.
This zippety-doodle fears nothing, not thunder, not lawn mowers, not skunks, not trucks, not even the massive dogs who live on top of the hill. Regardless how they toss her around, she jumps up and begs for more.
She doesn’t care about running after balls, but will chase sticks, butterflies, and birds. For a time, she would leap skyward in an attempt to catch airplanes!
Even though Sadie possesses an ample supply of chew toys, she chomps through her dog cushions and is on her third bed. The current one is made of an impenetrable fabric. However, Sadie learned how to unzip the cushion and nibble on the stuffing within.
Sadie is a manic extrovert. She loves all dogs and all people all of the time and shows her affection by jumping on them. Several rounds of Puppy Reform School have yet to curb her enthusiasm.
So, Sadie is not Cassie. And admittedly, I have my hands full. Yet, at the end of the day, when I am reading or playing banjo or painting or watching a movie, Sadie, my shooting star, calms down and cuddles up, which is exactly what I love about having a dog.
You can find more of Deborah Prum's work here.