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Archive for the ‘Dog Stories’ Category

We were all ready to go home by Sunday morning. We had a good time, but even the beach can wipe you out after awhile.

While Diamondqueen took a load of bags down to the car, I snapped a photo of the hippos and Dooney the cheetah on our room balcony. Funny, they didn’t look tired at all.

We still needed to get breakfast. The night before, Diamondqueen had dug out the local phone book and discovered two listings for Krispy Kreme stores. So instead of starting out along the Mapquest-recommended route, we started up a parallel boulevard, keeping our eyes peeled for one of those miraculous green and white stores with the neon sign announcing hot doughnuts. (We had them for awhile in the Cincinnati area. One burned down and another closed. We can get Krispy Kreme just about anywhere, from Kroger’s to the Shell station, but it’s just not the same.)

It felt as if we were driving forever, but intense pursuit has that effect. At last, we spotted Nirvana. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw that there was a line that nearly ran out the front door. So strong was the attraction, though, that we went in anyhow.

Most patrons were taking their doughnuts with them, so we were able to get a cramped table near the front windows. I’d forgotten how amazing a hot, fresh glazed doughnut tastes.

While we were eating, we kept our eyes on a pair of dogs outside. They appeared to be a golden Lab and maybe a weimaraner, and they were sitting in the back of a pick-up truck inside a camper cap with the back window open. They gazed continually at the front door, and it was easy to imagine they were anticipating a doughnut eventually. One kept resting his/her chin on the top of the tailgate. They were adorable. We kept hoping their owner would come out so we could see how the dogs reacted, but they were still waiting as we cleaned up our things.

They were parked next to the van, so of course Diamondqueen had to say something to them. “Aw, are you waiting for a doughnut,” she cooed in her sweetest I-love-doggies voice.

In a flash the golden Lab-like dog transformed into Cujo, barking ferociously with tremendous warning and authority. Diamondqueen recoiled as she was opening the van door for J.Hooligan, and we grimaced in horror at one another. Hours later, halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville, she muttered, “I’m not talking to any more strange doggies!”, still taken aback by the encounter. Maybe the poor beast simply hadn’t had his morning coffee yet.

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Previous Bailey posts are available under “Dog Stories” or “NaNoWriMo posts.” 

That damn beagle was a menace when bailey-2-cu-small-web-view.jpgit came to satisfying her urges. Yes, she was spayed. It never mattered.

My first experience with Bailey’s “physical lovin'” was when I babysat her about a month after Diamondqueen and TPM brought her home. They wanted a night out; they’d been married only about a month, and the puppy still required a level of attention that discouraged their being out of the apartment for very long at the same time. At least, that’s how they felt. They just weren’t ready to leave their furry little loved one alone, so Diamondqueen asked if I could babysit one Friday evening.

I was delighted to spend some quality time alone with my new “niece.” After her mommy and daddy left, Bailey and I played a bit, but she soon tired. I happily settled in on the sofa to watch TV with the puppy snuggled up against my hip.

After awhile she stirred and started to climb into my lap. My heart melted, and I glowed with this “awwww” showing of affection.

To my astonishment, though, Bailey continued to climb, pulling herself up onto the arm of the sofa, wrapping her legs around my forearm, and riding with a ferocity that must have recalled Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill.

It took me a few moments to gather my wits and disengage the small animal from my arm. I felt as though I was tugging off some perverse bracelet or cuff. I think her legs were still curled in her circular embrace when I finally freed myself.

Bailey continued her displays of affection throughout her life, and not just with me. Once Diamondqueen caught her getting ready to mount J.Hooligan as a toddler, the kind of “hug” the child didn’t need.

Her habit grew worst during the final years of Bailey’s life, although we never knew why. At a time when her lust and energy should have been waning, Bailey latched on to me regularly. Usually this happened when I was lying on the floor, playing with the kids. Bailey would sidle up as if something else were on her mind, virtually rolling her eyes at the ceiling and whistling in a nonchalant way. Then she’d wrap herself around my leg, and she never relinquished her hold easily. Often I’d shove her away only to have her spring back, taking me down again.

This also happened when I was sitting on the sofa or futon. And occasionally I was attacked while I was standing upright. In those instances, Bailey only clung with her front legs, but she had tremendous strength. I’d try to pull away and she’d stay right with me, hopping on her back legs like the Easter Bunny. A few times I hobbled into the other room, Bailey clinging and hopping the whole way.

No, it wasn’t affection, and it was obnoxious as hell. No amount of pushing and yelling deterred her. I suspected there might be a lot of alpha dog behavior behind it. Bailey considered herself queen of her domain — including everything and everyone in it. If she expected you to serve her desires, whatever they may be, she didn’t take “no” for an answer.

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See the first Bailey post here. 

My sister, Diamondqueen, and her husband, baileymemorial-small-web-view.jpgTPM (That Poor Man), lived in a third floor apartment when they were first married. I’d swing by after work sometimes to see Bailey, which the newlyweds didn’t seem to mind. If Bailey was out of her crate, she’d be looking down from the glass doors that opened onto the balcony. She’d hesitate, making sure it was me climbing out of the car, then she went into a frenzy of howling and clawing at the glass in the door. That far below, I could hear the pads of her paws against the glass. Then, as I climbed the stairs, she’d eagerly wait for me at the door. When I entered, her baying would start afresh amid frantic tail-wagging.

If Bailey was in her crate when I arrived, she’d dash through the hall with this bizarre kind of crouch, as if she were a lizard (I always wondered if she thought that would make her move faster). Then she’d jump on me and erupt into her noisy welcome. We’d try to shush her for the sake of the neighbors, but in typical Bailey contrarian fashion, she just bayed louder.

By summer Diamondqueen, TPM, and Bailey had moved into their own house. There was a large picture window over the sofa, which provided the ideal perch for Bailey. She lay across the top of the back of the sofa, which was the perfect height for her to soak up the sunshine and watch the traffic pass. That’s where I most likely saw her when I’d pull into the driveway. Sometimes she’d be on her feet, still on the back of the sofa, even before I turned in off Lebanon Road, maintaining her balance as her tail lashed back and forth. Or she’d be standing on the sofa cushions, her forelegs braced against the top of the sofa, because she’d been asleep but had heard my car outside. When I emerged from the car, I’d see her nose go up, and the high pitch of her braying penetrated the glass. If she was barking, her breath would fog the window before her; but before it faded, she’d already leapt down to meet me at the door.

By the time The Hooligans moved into their next home, even bigger and nicer than the last, J.Hooligan was one year old and Bailey was going on five. The new house didn’t have a picture window, and the traffic on the shaded subdivision street was much quieter than on Lebanon Road, which was busy at all times of the day. Bailey had to sit on a hard wood floor if she wanted to stare out the family room window; the living room floor was carpeted, but shrubbery and perspective diminished her range of view. Sometimes she could lie on the family room futon and stare through the window to see who was walking his or her dog. That gave her reason to get up and make a racket until the trespassers were out of view. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she spent as much time keeping tabs on the comings and goings as she had in the big picture window in the house on Lebanon Road. Then again, there she could lounge along the top of the overstuffed sofa while she observed the world. It might have been lack of comfort more than lack of curiosity that curtailed her neighborhood watch.

When I pulled up beneath the tall trees in front of the Hooligan’s house, though, Bailey either was in the window or would appear quickly. As ever, the nose pointed skyward and the yowling echoed from inside the house. Then Bailey would vanish, and I knew she’d be there when I opened the door, a bracing homecoming in a house that wasn’t even my own home.

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Bailey was a beagle. She was the dog my sister and brother-in-law bought just days after they returned baileymemorial-small-web-view.jpgfrom their honeymoon in October, 1995. She was a sweetheart, a demon, affectionate, vile, thieving, and thoroughly lovable — when she wasn’t driving everyone crazy.

For someone who doesn’t own dogs herself (thanks to apartment living and other lifestyle hindrances), I seem to have an instant, special rapport with dogs. Bailey was no exception. We bonded quickly, even though we didn’t live in the same household and sometimes I saw her only once a week. On the other hand, she loved just about everyone.

She possibly had the most personality of any dog I ever knew, and the most active brain. When she was young, I imagined I could hear her thinking. Sometimes Diamondqueen (my sister), TPM (That Poor Man, my brother-inlaw), and I would play Trivial Pursuit. Bailey would sit on her own chair and watch. I swore she was following the moves on the board and calculating the plays each of us would have to make to win. (Later, when her thieving ways had gotten the best of her, she never would have just sat on a chair, but would have grabbed the first game card or piece within reach and bolted out of the room.)

She was manipulative as hell. Her favorite technique was simply to turn on the charm. My sister said the beagle would practically bat her eyes, like a cartoon dog, to wheedle what she wanted. It was true. Many a time I’d feel her chin on my knee under the dinner table. I’d lift the tablecloth or peek into the shadows below, and there’d be Bailey gazing up at me. Her eyes sparkled with endearment, her mouth was slightly turned up at the corners, and she did seem to bat her eyes.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. When food was involved, Bailey simply shifted to Plan B: stealing.

She put on her “endearing beagle” act for strangers all the time, no matter where she met them. Everyone was her long-lost best friend. She’d sit erect before someone with whom she was trying to curry favor, tail wagging so energetically her ears would flop.

Bailey’s life was much too brief. She passed away in March 2005, almost five months short of her tenth birthday. Her last years weren’t as happy as they should have been, as she faced health problems and psychological adjustments to new babies, new fellow pets, and moves to new houses. But she never lost her style or her supreme talent for thievery and raising hell. For that I’ll always admire her. And I still miss her terribly.

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