Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful For The Memories...Today and Everyday!

Lesson Number Five: You’ve Gotta Have Friends, part 1

I always wanted the kind of dog that would have doggy friends. Was that a crazy idea? Many people might think so, but “dog people” know what I mean. I wanted a dog that I could visit friends with, a dog that wouldn’t go ballistic at the sight of another dog. I was determined to introduce Bijoux to as many other dogs as I could, and over her long life she had many canine friends, the first of which was Rex.

Rex was an English springer spaniel, about one-and-a-half years old. He was a good deal bigger than our puppy, but they got along famously. Rex’s owner, my friend Dawn, and I were close and saw each other practically on a daily basis. They lived just two blocks away, which made visits extremely convenient. Rex was quite rowdy, and I think Bijoux’s visits did Dawn and her husband Scott a huge service because she wore him out for them! Rex and Bijoux had a simple, specific routine they would follow: we’d arrive, and less than five minutes later, the two dogs were tearing through the house, chasing each other. Once caught, they rolled around on the floor (and sometimes the couch!), mouths wide open, drooling all over each other. Rex always tried to push Bijoux down with his chin, proving his dominance. Eventually the chase expanded to both floors of Dawn and Scott’s townhouse, and Bijoux raced down the stairs, Rex on her heels, sounding a lot more like elephants than dogs. Occasionally they couldn’t turn fast enough at the bottom of the stairs, and they tumbled into the wall. It didn’t even stun them: they kept right on going! Often they played like this for hours, and when we left, their fur was always damp from slobbering.

Her play dates with Rex were such a big part of Bijoux’s life that she even knew how to get to his house on her own, as I found out the hard way. Rex and Dawn had come to our house one day for a visit. About a minute or two after they left, I opened the front door again for some reason, and Bijoux slipped out. She ran, possessed, through my neighbor’s yard as I took off after her. She was so determined to get to her destination that I couldn’t catch up to her. I chased her through the neighborhood as everyone outside watched and laughed, and she didn’t stop until she got to Dawn’s porch. Dawn and Rex had just completed the walk from our house and were going inside when Bijoux met them. Although I scolded her for running away, I secretly found her spunk very amusing, and found it amazing that she knew how to find her friend.

Dawn gave birth to her son Nicholas that November, and Bijoux had her first exposure to an infant. Although Dawn was a typical first-time mom in that she didn’t want dogs licking her baby all the time, she was quite generous in allowing Bijoux to have access to Nick. I believe that her learning how to control herself around Nick—an unpredictable baby—while she was still a puppy made Bijoux completely tolerant of children and their antics, and set the foundation for her eventual transition from “our baby” to our Family Dog.

February 3, 1991 marked Bijoux’s First Birthday. Being a doting dog owner (and yes, a bit cuckoo), I decided to make a big deal out of the day. Jim and Scott were out to sea on their respective Navy ships, and I invited Dawn, Nick, and Rex to our house for a little party. Dawn and I tended to get quite silly when we were together, and this day was no exception. I had picked up pink birthday party hats for the occasion, and we all put them on—dogs included—and I took photos.

When it was time to play, I pulled a cardboard roll out of my stash and let the dogs tug on it. I had also purchased party blowers, and Rex and Bijoux tried to grab the end as I blew it out. Eventually I posed Bijoux with a blower hanging out of her mouth and snapped one of the funniest pictures I have from her whole long life.

For dessert, I served Dawn and myself a bag of M & M’s, and Rex and Bijoux snacked on Frosty Paws, an ice cream-like frozen treat especially made for dogs. I thought this was a great invention, and the dogs enjoyed it immensely. By the end of the evening, I was certain that Rex and Bijoux could have done without all of the party activities (except the Frosty Paws, which eventually became a regular treat!), but Dawn and I still laugh about the memories that were made.

Click here for part 2!