Sometimes I wonder if Licorice feels like she has a pretty good life with us, or if she lies awake at night planning to kill us in our sleep. I mean, I think we’re providing her more or less a puppy nirvana, but what do I know? I’m just a stupid human. And at around twelve pounds, that makes her brain… what… maybe the size of a ping pong ball, if that? It’s hard to know what’s going on in there.
For example: The mystery animal under the house. Otto went under there and sealed up the access points, but whatever it is got back in again the next day, so now we’re waiting for the Unwanted Critters Wrangler to come and set a trap. In the meantime, Licorice remains convinced that the bathroom in my office contains a veritable carnival of doggie treats and wonder to which I am heartlessly denying her access. She continues to spend the bulk of her busy schedule lying prostrate at the door, snout tucked under the corner, waiting for her very own possum to spring forth with rawhides in one paw and a kitten in another. I mean, I assume, anyway.
This, of course, is an Unusual Cruelty. There are plenty of Regular Cruelties happening all the time.
Regular Cruelties include things like the fact that we are forever helping ourselves to FOOD in the KITCHEN and only giving her a single bite or maybe two. Her passion for fruit remains unwavering, so it’s particularly pitiful when you’re attempting to eat an apple or a banana, and she sits at your feet—quivering with longing—hoping you’ll take pity upon her and just hand over your snack.
Late at night when Otto and I have popcorn, she sidles up to me on the couch and places a single paw on my thigh. Just a little bit of, “Hey, I’m over here. Just sitting here. Quietly. Not even begging. But looking kind of hungry, don’t you think? And you don’t seem to be lacking in body fat, missy, I’m just noticing.” And sure, yes, I carefully pick out a couple of kernels to share, but I see her eyeing the bowl, wondering why I get a giant serving and she gets just a couple of bites. (Answer: Because I have opposable thumbs. And because I bought the popcorn.)
And now that the weather is getting warmer, well, it’s a whole new wave of indignities thrown her way.
For one thing, it’s recently come to our attention that some plant out in the corner of the yard makes some kind of little green burr. We never knew this before, I guess because it only does it in the spring, and we’ve never had a dog to go run straight into said plant in the past. So poor Licorice was just romping around the yard, having a good time, doing her thing, and then before I brought her inside she did her standard shake-shake-shake out on the porch, only all of the little things all over her… didn’t move.
Which meant I had to bring her inside and pick all of the burrs off of her. I was thinking something like: Grumble, grumble… this is a total pain in the ass. But I suspect Licorice was thinking something like: Wow, what did I do wrong that now I have to spend an hour having her yank on my fur repeatedly??
And now that it’s warm enough to swim, well, we’re spending a fair amount of time out by the pool, where I heartlessly allow the children to GO IN THE WATER away from where Licorice can sit in their laps. She was so distressed by their repeated departures that we tried to encourage her to enter the pool, herself, but she was completely flummoxed by the pool steps and decided it was all just too scary.
At which point, Otto decided to practice a little bit of tough love and put her in the pool, anyway. She swam straight back to the steps, hoisted herself out, shook off, and then fixed Otto with such a baleful glare I half expected her to actually hiss “SCREW YOU!” And sure, it was 90 degrees outside and she’s a fluffy black dog, but she then sat by my chair shivering as if we’d dunked her into the Arctic just for kicks.
This morning the kids and I took her to the groomer, and this time we were the ones treated to the scornful glare when we returned to pick her up and she was only half the dog she used to be. “Where’s the REST of her?” asked Monkey, deeply concerned.
True, most of these problems aren’t anything that can’t be solved with a belly rub and a chewy treat, but I’m still a little worried that in her mind, we’re torturing her. If only I could explain these things. You know, tell her it’s for her own good, and that too many apples will make her sick, and that it’s only because we love her that we let a stranger dunk her into a bathtub and then shave her butt.
Come to think of it, it could be I’m getting off easy, not having to explain.