Double-Dog Dare

As you may have gathered from previous posts, my family is rather…strange. One of our favorite hobbies (though neither my sister nor I will admit it) is making up silly songs to describe what’s happening and singing them over and over until the men in the family can’t take it anymore. Many have told me how amazing (or did they say annoying…?) it is that I can make a song out of anything. It’s true, and it’s a skill I get from my mother, who in turn gets it from her mother.

My mother also enjoys forcing people to join her in song and dance by locking them in vehicles until they sing along with her.

One afternoon during my high school years, as my mother was driving me to my part-time job, she witnessed another driver making an illegal maneuver. At the time, her car’s dashboard was decorated with a stuffed-animal eagle dressed as a mail carrier—a gift from USPS for my mom’s hard work and years of service. And so, armed with the rage of a woman scorned on the road, and also having in her viewing range this stuffed eagle, my mother coined a phrase that still comes up in our household: illegal eagle.

eagle

This is what the “illegal eagle” looked like.

But you don’t just say “illegal eagle” when you see something illegal happening. Rather, you repeat it five to ten times in a monotone voice, sort of like a robot. It can also be shouted if you are especially excited.

So, on this day that shall live in infamy as the day my mother coined “illegal eagle,” she ditched her scorn for sheer excitement over her discovery. An onlooker might have thought she had just written the next great opera. She would not stop chanting “illegal eagle.” What’s worse is that she insisted that I join in.

“Come on, just say it!” she pleaded.

“No. It’s stupid!” And it was. It really, really was. Also, I was 15, so I was in that “must-always-disagree-with-authority” phase.

“Just say it once. ONCE!” If nothing else, my mother is persistent. But I decided to be just as stubborn and not say the phrase.

At this point we had pulled up to my job and it was time for me to get out. Just as I reached for the door handle (my saving grace from this ridiculous situation), my mother perma-locked the doors with that handy “child-lock” button equipped on newer cars. (Even as an adult, I find it very insulting when I can’t open the “child-locked” doors and/or windows.)

I glanced back at her, shocked. With the most triumphant look on her face, she said calmly, “You have to say it before you get out of the car.”

You have got to be kidding me.

“Mom, I’m going to be late!”

“JUST SAY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Fine.”

And I said it. But just once.

“No, you have to do it multiple times in a row.” Always the trickster, she had roped me in for more than we bargained for.

“ILLEGAL EAGLE. ILLEGAL EAGLE. ILLEGAL EAGLE!!!!!!!!!” I screamed.

And then we both burst out laughing, because it is really fun to say, especially when you say it the recommended five to ten times.

In the same vein, last Thanksgiving, my mother, sister, and I made up the following song. I don’t remember who or what started it, but the lyrics are:

Double-dog dare
Double-dog dare
Can’t back down from a double-dog dare

There is a tune that goes with it too, but unfortunately I cannot convey it for you. (Be like a Roach girl and just make one up!)

So, for the longest time, I have been double-dog-daring Kevin to get a second dog.

I love Peanut. She is my best friend, my animal soul-mate, my spirit dog. We share an unbreakable bond, and she has been with me through some of my toughest life moments: breakups, long-distance relationships, etc. I truly feel that she is a part of me, and when I think about her ultimate exit from this world, I feel overwhelmed with emotion. (And don’t ask me why I put myself through this. I guess I’m trying to practice?) And I’m going to need another dog to help me through that emotion when the time comes (hopefully 7 or 8 years from now). Of course, Peanut is by no means an old dog, but I wanted her to have time to play with the new dog and love it and guide it.

After much prompting (and with the promise of free pet adoptions thanks to the Maddie’s Fund Pet Adoption Event), Kevin agreed to let me add a second dog to the mix, with the caveat that the new pup had to weight less than or equal to Peanut (which really isn’t fair because Peanut weighs a lot less than most dogs her size). To make a long, boring story (in which we stand in the adoption line for over an hour) short, we adopted Waldy (as named by the shelter), a Corgi/Rat Terrier mix.

Taken just after we finished the adoption paperwork.

Taken just after we finished the adoption paperwork.

After testing several names (Radar, for his crazy ears, Loki, because it’s cool, and Taco, because…well, I just love tacos), we settled on Dobby, because he looks like the Harry Potter house elf every reader has come to know and love. (But [SPOILER ALERT!!] hopefully Dobby won’t die trying to save us from Bellatrix Lestrange while we are disapparating from Malfoy Manor.)

I caught them in the middle of a moment...

I caught them in the middle of a moment…

The first few days were hard work. Peanut has been fully trained for a long time, and I forgot that dogs don’t come pre-wired for commands like sit, stay, come, and down. As can be expected, Dobby also felt the urge to mark his territory, dribbling pee in a few spots. (Thank goodness for our dark carpet and Nature’s Miracle!) But he learned quickly that pee goes outside, he has to sit to receive love, he has to lie on his bed during mealtimes, and he has to go in his crate at night. He also no longer whines when we leave the house; he knows that we will always return home…eventually. And while Dobby has had a few poo accidents, they always correlate to the times when Kevin is responsible for taking the dogs outside. (Kevin doesn’t have the patience to watch Dobby and make sure he stays outside until he poops, and then he acts surprised when Dobby poops inside. We have had zero pooping issues when the dogs are on my watch.)

Dobby basking in the sunlight.

Dobby basking in the sunlight.

The best part about Dobby is that he fills the cuddling void. Peanut has never been a very cuddly dog. Sure, she loves curl up near me and get belly rubs, but she always sleeps at the foot of the bed (her choice) or the other end of the couch. She’s very independent. While Dobby likes to do his own thing (as I write, he is sitting at the window barking his balls off at probably nothing outside), he also loves to curl up in my lap or near my hand (if it is placed near the floor) and just lie there for as long as I will let him. And he melts my heart when he stares lovingly into my eyes as I pat his little head. (I like to imagine that he has a deep voice with a Spanish accent. He is very suave.)

Biting each other's faces tenderly: a fun dog game.

Biting each other’s faces tenderly: a fun dog game.

He is really silly too. For the first few days, he did not understand that the full-length-mirror doors of the hallway closet were showing his reflection rather than another dog. He barked at himself for days until he figured it out. (He did the same with the sliding glass doors in our dining room when it was dark outside and he could see his reflection.) He also does this running slide move in our non-carpeted areas, where he tries to change direction quickly but can’t so he just slides to slow himself.

Big dog in a little bed.

Big dog in a little bed.

 

Peanut has been taking it pretty well. She plays rather aggressively, but Dobby is learning how to keep up with her. Peanut also likes to hide all the bones and steal all the toys. But Dobby is wily, and when Peanut steals his toys, he can be found circling the house with a giant Peanut toy somehow clasped in his jaws. Peanut is so jealous that she even has been found sleeping in Dobby’s bed (probably just because it was something new on the floor that she had to test) and trying to shove herself into his crate. (The first night we set up Dobby’s crate, Peanut weaseled herself into it, so we shut her in to show her that it’s really not Peanut-sized. I think she learned the lesson.) It’s easy to teach an old dog new tricks (Peanut has learned a few since Dobby came into the pack, like sitting quietly to wait for her food), but no one ever talks about how hard it is to teach an only-dog how to share with his/her new sibling.

(And, of course, as I’m writing all these wonderful things about him, Dobby chewed a tiny hole in the carpet…)

 

The Dress

My relationship with Carly, and the reason we are still together, can be summed up in the story of her dress:

The first time I met Carly, she was wearing this flowing sundress that would have looked adorable on any damsel over 80 years of age. It had a lovely floral pattern that would have been perfect for any couch in your grandmother’s house, and the dress was oversized enough to cover a couch too. Why Carly chose to wear this dress on that day will forever be one of the mysteries of her feminine mystique.

However, Carly was so cute and charming that I had to stomach the dress and ask her out. That’s a story for another day; let’s stay focused on the dress:

I am blessed with a very limited attention span and a terrible memory, so I was easily able to force the dress out of my mind and focus on the better parts of Carly’s wardrobe. I forgot about the dress. Looking back, I now know why Carly had this funny little secret smile everytime she wore her grandma camouflage (grandmaflage™?) – she thought I loved the dress. I didn’t.

Over the course of our relationship Carly slowly updated her wardrobe, and I saw less and less of the dress. But one day out of the blue Carly decided to forgo her hip new clothes to wear this hideous dress that didn’t even fit. I must have looked flabergasted, because Carly flashed me her little secret smile and said something like:

“Don’t you recognize this?”

(Yes.” I thought, “It’s one of the curtains from the nursing home!) But I held on to my poker face and played along… “No?

This is the dress I was wearing when we first met! *giggles* *smiles* *blushes*”

Oh! Right! Now I recognize it!” And I did. I tried my best to hide behind a fake smile as the memories came crashing back. All those little secret smiles suddenly made so much sense. And I realized that I would now have to live with this dress for the rest of my life. I couldn’t tell her! Could I? No! Maybe if I were really subtle…maybe if it “accidentally” caught fire? But she looks so happy! I can’t do it…

I think my smile must have frozen into a rictus as Carly asked, “What is it?”

Ummm…. “I’m just so overcome with emotion…you know…remembering how we first met and all…” It’s technically not a lie, right?

And so it went on. Carly only got prettier, but for every special occasion she wore her best dress. We go to Taco Bell and Carly dresses like a supermodel – we go to a white tablecloth place and Carly dresses like…well you get the idea by now. I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t tell her! It would devastate her. Right?

That’s the thing about Carly that I didn’t realize until the moment I told her about the dress. She’s tiny but she’s tough. Well, I knew she was tough – the bruises attest to that, but I didn’t realize how well she can handle my overly critical ridiculous neuroticism.

I never wanted to get married because I really believe that if you love something you have to let it go. If it takes a contract to keep you together, then you don’t belong together. I never wanted anyone to stay with me out of obligation. And making love into a contract felt like a cold, bitter destruction of all of the romantic ideals of love.

The night I finally broke down, she had brought up the dress, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to tell her the truth. I expected Carly to be crushed. I flinched, waiting for tears, wailing…and more bruises. But none of that happened.

I told her I hated that dress. She looked puzzled for a moment, and then that secret little smile spread across her face.

That’s when I knew that with Carly things were different. She didn’t care about the love contract, she just loved me. So, I was able to stop caring about the contract too.

…Since we are going to have a contract though, one of her vows better be to “Never wear that dress again as long as we both shall live.”