When our now College Girl daughter turned 16, we threw a surprise party. While the memory of her screeching and falling back into the furniture when everyone yelled out “Happy Birthday!” is one that still makes me smile, my husband (the Norwegian Artist) and I were the ones who wound up with the surprise.
It was a dog, a puppy, that one of the girls brought as a “present.”
“If you don’t want it, I can take it back,” she told us before the party started. Yeah, right.
What we initially saw was brown, floppy, droopy, absolutely adorable, and asleep.
The Norwegian Artist and I looked at one another. “How bad can it be?” we asked one another. (Did we really not know?) “Look at her. She’s sleeping. And she really is cute.”
And so Roxy came into our lives. Even though nominally she belongs to College Girl, that person is three hours away in, well, college, and dorms do not accept pets. So we are raising Roxy.
It quickly became evident that the sleepy calm thing was an aberration, and that Puppy, as we initially called her, had boundless and unlimited supplies of energetically effervescent ebullience. She started by chasing the chickens, which is a huge no-no on the farm.
“If that dog kills a chicken, she’s gone,” the Norwegian Artist intoned. Something about the tone of his intonation got through, and Puppy stopped chasing chickens, cold turkey so to speak, and turned her attention to the cats. Now here was scope for her imagination — eight different cats, with eight different running styles.
Jasper vaulted up the tree. Archie hunched down and let the dog put his face in her mouth. Eddie stood fast, then bolted. Xena the Warrior Princess abdicated. Mozart, the Old One, lost all thought of his dignity and scurried under the car, from which vantage point he hissed. Cappuccino hurled herself onto the roof of the chicken coop.
And Roxy thought that she had eight new friends.
During Roxy’s long, long puppyhood, the Very Old and Ready to Die Labrador, Brandy, was still, barely, alive. Until Roxy arrived, Brandy spent the day sleeping — deaf, blind, and losing her sense of smell, she didn’t know if it were day or night.
Roxy did, though, and early in the morning she leaped upon Brandy’s subtly breathing carcass, then bounded back, barking, six inches from Brandy’s face. Bark BARK! Bark BARK! Bark BARK!
We figure that by forcibly getting Brandy up and moving, Roxy increased her lifespan by two years, but we’re not sure if Brandy appreciated this.
Eight months after Roxy arrived — while we were still calling her “Puppy” — a little friend started visiting. It was a Springer Spaniel.
Now with those ears of long flowing tresses, neither the Norwegian Artist nor I gave the visitor much thought. We told ourselves that were happy that Roxy was having a girlfriend over to play.
But it wasn’t a girlfriend, although yes, they were playing. The mail carrier informed us that Roxy’s friend was a fully functioning male and that he was coming from a half-mile away.
We chose to stay in a state of denial, and observed with pleasure that, “Puppy seems to be getting a little plumper these days.”
Finally, when the obviousness of Roxy’s impending motherhood could not be overlooked, we remained optimistic: “First-time mom, she’ll probably just have one or two.”
One morning, the Norwegian Artist went out to the hay bales, and he saw what he initially thought were eight, 8-inch-long maggots. They were Roxy proxies.
We eventually sold all eight, not having to resort to giving any as birthday gifts, and purchased an overnight stay at the vet’s for Roxy. Her newfound friend, the Springer Spaniel, never came back.
Roxy recovered her figure and boundless energy, returning to chasing cats. She also eyes the neighbor’s horses. Barks at the other neighbor’s pigs. Runs in the other direction when you call her. And lately, at 3 in the morning, barks at something — we don’t know what — for an interminable period of time.
Bark BARK! Bark BARK! Bark BARK!
“That DAMN dog!” the Norwegian Artist grumbles as he pokes through the dresser for a flashlight, maybe some aspirin.
Dog’s outside. Nothing else.
Bark BARK! Bark BARK! Bark BARK!
The next night it’s 2:45. Night after 3:10.
No deer, no bear, no skunks, no porcupines, no weasels. Just the Damn Dog.
When we tell the College Girl she laughs. “Aw, she’s so sweet,” is all she can come up with.
The problem is, Roxy is sweet. This is what she looks like (just so you don’t get confused — The Norwegian Artist is on the right — he’s cute too, but in a human way. Roxy is the cinnamon scrunchie thing in his arms):
She’s cute; she’s intelligent; she’s wrinkly; she’s funny; she’s noisy; she’s disobedient; she’s impacting; and in all likelihood, she’s probably ours.
That Damn Dog.