This morning while I was sitting in a pediatric immunologist's office with the youngest Lemon, I struck up a conversation with the mother of the little girl Lemony Child was sharing her markers with. It started out as conversations with strangers waiting next to you in a doctor's office typically do...weather (it's cold out there!),
traffic (not too bad this morning!),
coffee (thank goodness there's a Starbucks downstairs!)...
with meaningless filler.
I was only half paying attention, but then I heard, "...and then the damned dog was in the air, I tell you, ears flapping, tail wagging, streams of toilet paper flying behind her. Like I had time
"Let me guess," I said. "Boxer?"
She looked startled, but then she laughed, and suddenly we had something in common other than a child waiting for an appointment with the esteemed Dr. H, Immunologist. It was just the ice-breaker we needed to start talking.
..about our lives outside of the Big, Scary, World of Pediatric Immunology, our families, our fears for our sick daughters. But not before we talked about our dogs.
I'd always thought of myself as a cat person, and I do like cats, but when I inherited a Golden Retriever named Max, I realized I love
dogs, and I've had one ever since...except for the three-year period between Lemony Child's birth and Lemony Mutt coming to live with us.
Why the three-year break? Let me tell you about Maggie.
She? Was CRAZY. And I don't mean that funny haha isn't that dog silly?
crazy. I mean she was certifiable. Bonkers. Nutty. GONE. Whoop! Gone. She had issues, man. Let me put it to you this way: the book Marley & Me
was written about Maggie.
(side note...if you love a dog, or if you just love dogs, I highly recommend this book. it's sweet, funny, sad, and just plain well-written)
Okay, so Maggie was a girl and a Golden Retriever and Marley was a boy and a Labrador Retriever, but I swear to you they are the same
Marley had separation anxiety actue enough to make him eat through walls whenever he was left alone. So did Maggie. When Marley's family decided to try a crate in order to save their drywall, Marley decided to chew through steel. So did Maggie. Marley wigged out at the slightest hint of a thunderstorm in the area. So did Maggie. See? Told you. Same dog.
When the Great Crate Experiment didn't work, we put her in the garage. She bloodied both her feet and her nose trying claw and chew her way through the concrete walls. We saved ourselves some money on the drywall repair, but the vet bill pretty much made that point moot.
Then there was the day I took the kids out for a few hours on a sunny day in August. There wasn't a cloud to be seen when we walked into the mall, and not a cloud to be seen when we exited less than two hours later. Something was different, though, and when we were halfway home it hit me...THE GROUND IS WET! IT RAINED! IT RAINED ON A SUNNY DAY IN AUGUST! IT MUST HAVE BEEN A THUNDERSTORM!
From the backseat, the then-nine-year-old Lemony Teen said, "Oh, shit, Mumma. You'd better HURRY!"
I was in such a panic I couldn't even tell her shit was a bad word. Besides, she knew Maggie as well as I did. Thunder? And alone? At the same time??
Oh, shit, indeed.
When we got home there was no dog greeting us at the laundry room door. There wasn't the sound of nails clicking (okay, scratching the hell out the floor of in her hurry to get to us) across anything. No wagging tail, no excited doggie chuffing, nothing. No dog. Nope. What there was instead was a broken window, a torn screen, and a broken shrub.
The kids were hysterical and sobbing; I was too shocked at the sight of the dog-shaped hole in the window to do much more than stand with my mouth hanging open. We called the dog officer to report her missing and then we went out to look for her. Hours and hours later, we gave up and went home. By then I was crying, too, because just like Marley, Maggie was a sweet, loyal, and yes, gentle dog and we loved her.
Five minutes after we got home, there she was at the front door, sitting patiently, waiting for somebody to let her in. She was covered from head to toe in green slime courtesy of the pretty-to-look-at but no-fun-to-be-IN marsh down the hill from our house. She had burrs stuck to every inch of her face and chest and she stunk
to high heaven.
I was never happier to see anything in my life.
Then there was the time a storm passed by while I was out picking Lemony Brother up from pre-school. At least that time she waited for us in the driveway.
Then there was that other time a storm passed by while I was out taking Lemony Teen to gymnastics. I came home to two police cars, lights flashing, in my driveway and a bunch of neighbors milling around in my front yard. Thinking something just horrible had happened to the boy child I'd left with a babysitter, I ran in a blind panic towards the crowd, who were very quick to point out what all the fuss was about...
My dog, hanging by the hind leg she'd gotten stuck somehow, from a second-story window.
No, I am not
kidding. We made the local paper with the headline WOULD BE HOUND-INI THWARTED BY CLUMSINESS.
So when we finally had to put her down we were hesitant to get another dog. What if our new dog was crazy, too? With a newborn in the house we decided we just couldn't deal with another Whoop! gone dog. So we waited. When I decided it was time for a new puppy, Mr. Lemony thought it would be a good idea to consider another breed. A smaller breed, maybe, and one with less fur.
"Don't you think, honey?" he said. "Less fur is nice."
As if he ever groomed her or vacuumed the couch.
Less fur, okay, but small dog? No. If I want a lap-sized furry thing, I'll get a cat. So we researched "medium" sized dogs. We didn't want much, really, just a breed with a friendly and outgoing personality, even temperament, good with kids, intelligent, easy to train, eager to please, an understanding of where a dog sits on the totem pole, loyal, loving, and, most importantly, not CRAZY.
We were so enthralled with this...A well-bred Boxer is an entertaining companion, loyal protector, athletic working dog, and enthusiastic but gentle playmate. The most important characteristics of the Boxer are his alertness and self-confidence. However, he is also a playful dog, although gentle and patient with children. He is fiercely loyal, intelligent and easily disciplined; he is cautious with strangers but responds quickly to friendly invitations. These qualities make the Boxer a well-loved family guardian and pet...that we didn't really pay much attention to this...He can run, jump and frolic with the best. He fairly bubbles with cheerfulness and the joy of life.
Running and jumping? HA! More like lightning fast and spring-loaded. I swear my dog can go from zero to sixty in 2.2 seconds and leap six feet straight up without a running start. Heaven forbid she's running when she decides to jump...then it's launch into orbit time.
Fairly bubbles with cheerfulness? I have never seen a dog do what she does when she's happy...her tail wags so fast it is literally a blur and so hard the entire back half of her body swings. It's like she can levitate or something.
Joy of life? Oh, yeah...she will run and jump and leap and pant and slobber and play and NOT STOP ALL DAY. Kind of like a toddler who downs six cups of coffee in five minutes.
She's as strong as an ox on steroids. When she's running full-steam-ahead in your direction you'd better move. She won't jump on you (not anymore, anyway, DAMN that was a hard habit to break in a dog who loves to jump) but if she even brushes against you on her way by, you're going down, baby.
With all that energy, I bet you're wondering how she can possibly be good with small children. To be honest, when she was still a really young puppy, I worried about exactly that...yeah, it's cute when she's an enthusiastic 10-pound puppy, but what about when she's a 65-pound dog?
I worried for nothing.
She lets them do whatever the hell they want to her and she just sits, smiles, and licks their chins when they ask for kisses. They just love her. I just love her...which brings me back to this morning. When I was running around like a crazy person trying to get ready to get out of the house on time to get to the doctor's office, I heard this weird little woooooooooooooooof sound, so I looked...and saw...
...which made me laugh so hard I nearly choked to death on my third cup of coffee. What's not to love about a dog who can get her entire head stuck in a toy and still wait politely for her mum to get the camera, take a picture, and laugh some more before helping her get unstuck? What's not to love about a breed so goofy and so specifically BOXER that I can recognize another Boxer owner just by hearing the words and then the damned dog was in the air? What's not to love about dogs who can make two stressed-out and worried mums forget about being at the pediatric immunologist's office long enough to laugh about streaming toilet paper?