By Mir
June 21, 2010

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.


  1. joaaanna

    My friends’ dog does the collapse thing. She is the sweetest little mutt that they found running around the lake. No one claimed her, as she had probably been dumped. They named her Bonnie (my bonnie lies over the ocean, my bonnie lies over the sea. Ocean, sea, lake – same thing). When you approach her to pet her and give her love, she immediately flops on the floor. We call it the Bonnie Flop. Actually very cute.

  2. laura

    Our Bailey looks so much like Licorice. We believe she is a poodle/chihuahua mix, and she too was a pound puppy. She absolutely flips out when the girls return home, running circles and ‘bouncing’ off their legs. It’s a great feeling to know YOU ARE LOVED!!

  3. Megan

    Dude – must have video of the fainting goat dog. That is too funny!

  4. Stace

    LOL…I can completely relate! I have a mini-aussie whose name is Vella….short for…Velcro…:)

  5. hollygee

    Thank you. That’s what I needed. And the discussions of a second, uh, VelShihPoo? How are they proceeding?

  6. Cheryl

    Our dog has been with us for 9 years now, and she still will sit and cry unless someone watches her eat. I know, I know, it’s our fault for doing it in the beginning, but now we’re just stuck with watching a 100 pound black lab eat twice a day.

  7. Aimee

    Heh… Vel-Shih-Poo. Hey, at least she’s not a Shipoopi. Um, /musical theater geekiness.

  8. Tracy

    THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU….That’s what I was needing. That’s the best part of owning a dog, I think. They love you and miss you no matter what. My puppies act like that when I just go out and check the mail. It’s the best feeling EVER! Thanks!

  9. Jan

    We have a velcro dog, too — a German Shorthair Pointer. He weighs 75 lbs and insists on sleeping under the covers at night. Not that we would indulge such a whim. *ahem*

    We left our dogs with some friends one time. We were gone 2 weeks and when we came back, I kid you not, they *snubbed* us. It was all, “oh. it’s you. I see you’ve come back. Whatever, dude.” They were totally punishing us for daring take a trip without them.

    I will never be without a dog if I can help it.

  10. meghann

    My dog has always followed me into the bathroom, so welcome to the club! :D

  11. Dawn

    Aw, poor Licorice! What must have been going through her doggie head at the airport. If only we could explain things to them.

    My ancient Beagle is right now lying behind my chair, snoring away. I’m home (unexpectedly to her) today (provincial holiday) and she has spent the best part of the day relocating her nap to which ever room I’m in. My cat loves me, and is must more effusive about it than any cat that has ever lived with me, but it still isn’t a patch on doggie love.

  12. aem2

    Aimee: I was thinking the same thing! But this girl does *not* play hard to get.

  13. Sara

    My cat does the same floppy thing: we call it flop-kitty. He is so excited to see me come home that he seems to loose all his motor control. It comes back only long enough for him to follow me around. If I stop he gets all excited and flops again. If I pick him up when he has gone flop-kitty, he is actually floppy like a baby with low tone. Poor little guy. His middle name should be velcro as well.

  14. Debra

    My Izzabella is a Papillon/Jack Russell mix. She’s a tiny furry little thing that likes to snack on frogs. We also call her Velcro-dog.

  15. Mary

    I was doing the oh, ah thing all the way until the last sentence and then I totally lost it. You are way too funny for your own good! Love your blog.

  16. Katie in MA

    Your Licorice voices cracks me up every single time. :) Glad you and the furry little lovey are reunited!

  17. Joless

    Hehe, we also have a GSP like @Jan, and she is always so, so pleased to see us for about 3 minutes and then it’s like she remembers that she’s not a puppy anymore, she’s supposed to be a mature 5-yr old and is like, oh, yeah, well….and wanders off!

    On a related note, have you read this….it made me laugh out loud…at work. Oops!

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