Someone asked how Licorice was doing with our reunion and how she dealt with her first week away from us. I’m pleased to report that she still maintains all of the endearing qualities she had when we left, like that her tail is very waggy, she makes that adorable “murph!” sound when you pet her and/or she’s really happy, and her breath—despite the finest water additives, targeted treats, and dental rawhides money can buy—still threatens to melt your face off whenever she decides you need a good lickin’.
In other words, she’s absolutely fine and the reunion was very sweet.
On the other hand, never let it be said that Licorice isn’t a dog with her own special complexities. Much as many dogs and owners start to look like one another after long-term ownership, I am coming to grips with the fact that the longer I own this dog, the more neurotic she becomes. Like, um, someone who lives in this house. And prefers to remain anonymous. STOP LOOKING AT ME.
Okay, so, after the cruise, the children headed off with their dad and I went to a conference in Philadelphia, so Otto was the only one who came home. He reported that when he headed to our friend’s house to pick up the dog, she was so excited to see him, she kept FALLING OVER. “Like a fainting goat??” I asked, when he reported this to me.
“Sort of,” he said. “She would just get all excited and then… fall over.”
I think that she was flopping over to show her belly, because Otto is her alpha. But whatever. The idea of her getting so excited that her legs stopped working was kind of amusing.
For their three-and-a-half days together before I got back, Otto reported that she followed him everywhere, like a duckling. He was unaccustomed to this, because I’m usually the one she sticks with. He was also surprised to discover that she was very, very reluctant to eat. Some days she didn’t have breakfast until lunchtime, and not until Otto sat in the kitchen with her. I’m not entirely sure what that was about, other than that she tends to get an upset stomach very easily. (Remember when we first got her? She laid around all depressed for two days and barfed up stomach bile a couple of times before deigning to accept any food from us.)
Now, Chickadee had BEGGED Otto to take video of Licorice seeing me again for the first time. The last time I went away, our reunion caused great excitement and much tail wagging, so Chickie was sure after such a long time apart the spectacle would be even MORE exciting. As for me, I’d begged Otto to bring Licorice to the airport, rather than leaving her at home for hours before I’d get to see her.
Otto—a stand-up guy who has a soft spot for the demanding women in his life—both brought the dog with him and had his camcorder at the ready. And as the car pulled up to the curb, I saw my sweet puppy’s ears go up-up-UP as she spotted me, and I opened the car door ready to be pounced upon.
What happened next, though, was not the prance-a-rama we’d envisioned. Licorice has always been a nervous car rider, and Otto later reported that she’d sat in his lap, shaking, all the way to Atlanta. When I opened the door to greet her she sort of… slunk into the passenger seat and, although wagging, was very low and submissive as I fawned over her and kissed her and scratched her head. She would periodically bring her head up and give me a quick lick, but there was none of the effusiveness we expected.
Otto and I exchanged puzzled glances and he put the camcorder away as I got into the car and Licorice burrowed into my lap.
“Maybe she thinks she’s being taken somewhere else?” I said. “Like, I’m not staying, I’m just here to give her away or something?” We agreed it was very, very weird. Otto and I chatted and Licorice dozed as we made the drive home.
HOWEVER. Once back at the homestead, it took Licorice about 30 seconds to process that she was HOME with her PEOPLE and I was apparently not going anywhere. THEN she freaked right the heck out, dancing, prancing, and generally wagging so hard that she knocked herself over a few times, the ding-a-ling. THAT was the reunion I’d been looking forward to!
For the next few days I was still sick and spent a lot of time just laying around being useless, and Licorice parked herself in my lap or by my side. Then Otto left on a trip and I got better and was up and around more, at which point her tracking of me started becoming a little ridiculous.
Like, I used to be able to go to the bathroom without her following me in there (or crying at the door if I closed her out). Not any more! And yesterday I crated her and went out for a while, and when I came home I thought she was going to hurt herself. I could practically hear the canine thought bubbles: YOU CAME BACK! YOU’REBACKYOU’REBACKYOUREALLYLOVEME!
It’s kind of pitiful. But also kind of cute.
This morning, for example, after her first run outside and my coffee, I put some food down for her in the kitchen and came in here to my office and sat down at my desk. That goofy dog has been RUNNING LAPS around my chair ever since, on account of she can’t say, “Mom! Mom! Mom! MOM! MOMMOMMOMMOM COME WATCH ME EAT MOM! MOM! MOM!”
There’s so much you never know about a dog when you do a rescue; their lineage, what circumstances they came from, etc. At this point I feel comfortable postulating that Licorice was well-loved in her former life, right up until a car ride ended her idyllic existence, somehow. Poor pumpkin.
Also, we’ve long assumed (with corroboration from the vet and other experts) that Licorice is a Shih Tzu/Poodle mix. After the last week I feel like we can conclusively assume that she is, in fact, not a Shih-Poo. She’s a Vel-Shih-Poo: Equal parts mixture of Velcro, Shih Tzu, and Poodle.