That Damn Dog!

Moonlight Sail -- Original Oil Painting by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

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.

Hurricane River, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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.

Provincial Afternoon, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

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.

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
This entry was posted in Culture, Encouragement, Family, Growth, Humor, Life, Personal, Random, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to That Damn Dog!

  1. sierra says:


  2. shanna j. says:

    Much as I love Roxy, if she took to awakening me at two in the morning, I’d nurse a bit of a pique, too. I remember back before Grandpa died, when his flock of chickens burgeoned to something like 41. He hadn’t the strength to clip their wings, so they
    flew wherever they liked. They took to roosting in his apricot
    tree, right outside the guest bedroom window. Twenty three of them were roosters, and they crowed like idiots day and night. I suppose the use of a simile here is redundant, as they were in fact idiots. I’ve enjoyed your story, and am glad for her sake that the vexacious Roxie is unable to read.

  3. Miki says:

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh pets. I wish I had a cat or dog (or both), but a student lifestyle of travelling up and down the country with not very much money doesn’t really make that possible, sadly. Your critters look gorgeous though 🙂

    • During our college days, I so missed cats and dogs! So now, in our post-college days, we are making up for it with a vengeance!

      Somedays I sit out on the porch with my knitting and I am surrounded by furry friends — Roxy emits gas just behind me; Xena crawls in my lap and is slapped by Spider, who wants to sit there as well; Eddie looks sexy and disinterested; Ruby the Chihuahua chases away the chickens; Mia the Siamese stares at me and looks vaguely disappointed. I feel so loved!

  4. Anna Allen Chappell says:

    what a wonderful story! Our Dixie, too, has a habit of barking at who knows what at 2 a.m. and I threaten every night that I am gonna put her back in the kennel if she doesn’t cut it out! SO great of you to take care of your college students dog..are you going to be willing to part with her when she graduates?

    • Ah, yes. I have a big red bow and wrapping paper all ready to swathe the dog in and present back to the College Girl as the diploma touches her fingers; however, there has been mention of the words “Graduate School,” which leads me to believe that the red bow might be a bit dusty before it gets put into use.

      My commisseration concerning Dixie and her nocturnal musings. As I write, the Norwegian Artist is escorting Roxy into alternative sleeping quarters within the workshop.

  5. Pingback: The Jewel of All Dogs — Ruby Reigns Supreme « Middleagedplague's Blog

  6. I love the way you write, Carolyn. Your stories always make me smile. I think many of us have one of those “damn dogs”. Aren’t we all lucky??

    • Thank you, Marian. I am always very happy when something I write strikes a chord — happy or sad — and eliciting a smile is a treasure for my day.

      I wonder how many dogs out there have nicknames like “Dammit!”?

  7. oh, great story! boy can we dog lovers relate!

    • Thank you, Jennifer. TDG is ten feet to my right, collapsed on the carpet after her 3-mile morning walk. Yeah, right — like ANYTHING ever tires this animal out. All I have to do is stand up, walk to the cabinet for the leash, and say, Walk? and she’ll be up and at it.

  8. We just adopted a Cock-a-poo, 3 years after the death of our 18 year old tiny terrier mix. This one looked enough like her, that we looked at each other and said, “He’s ours!”
    He has brought such laughter and joy to our solemn lives. He does not bark at ungodly hours of the morning, and he would willingly sleep in his bed, but we enjoy having him sleep between us in the early morning. He rolls to the right,”I love you!” He rolls to the left, “I love you too!”, and then, while still on his back, he stretches and falls asleep between us both!
    Just a slight digging problem….

    • Lynne: I’m so happy that you took the plunge, after 18 years with your terrier mix, to open up your heart to another animal. Too many people, after the death of a beloved pet, say that they’ll never own another dog or cat again, because they can’t endure the pain of losing an animal they love so much. And yet, they lose the chance to fall in love, all over again, with a completely different companion.

      I can feel the joy and happiness that this wonderful Cock-a-poo brings you.

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