I wasn’t in the market for a new dog, not yet. Mud Season was high upon us, and I wasn’t quite finished being sad for my dearly departed sheepdog. But the Squirrel hadn’t stopped talking about the dog, and definitely hadn’t stopped loving up any and every dog we happened upon, nor had she stopped pretending to be a dog at every other minute.
So, a dog in need came up, and we, innkeepers of strays and house of crazy, brought him into our fray. He’s older than a new puppy (read: he knows where to do his business), but too young to be of much use (read: in the way of everything, chewing anything in his path, flopping in gardens, terrorizing cats). But the Squirrel loves him in the devoted and unconditional way of hers. My last month’s days have gone like this:
— Squirrel goes to Dog, throws her arms around his head to give him a hug.
— Dog sees this as invitation to play.
— They wrestle until The Squirrel gets knocked over, stepped on, scratched, or otherwise roughed-up.
— Squirrel cries that The Dog pushed her over, stepper on her, scratched her, or otherwise roughed her up.
— I yell at The Dog.
— The Squirrel yells at me for yelling at The Dog, expresses her undying love for The Dog, and throws her arms around his neck.
Repeat 200 times per hour.
Which means that I’ve spent the past month rating the decision to get this dog among my life’s bad decisions, and finding it easily cracking the Top 10, which is impressive because my Bad Decisions List is not exactly short.
And then today, The Squirrel and I were in the garden when from the vicinity of the river, The Dog began yelping, then whining, then going silent, then yelping again with more intensity. And in an unexpected heart-grew-three-sizes moment, my first thought wasn’t to disparage the dog for being a little wanting in the brains department, but to jump to his rescue. I grabbed the Squirrel, hopped the barbed wire fence, and dove through the bramble to the riverside. I couldn’t spot him at all, but he answered when I called, with endless scared yelps.
I put the Squirrel on my shoulders and got into the river, wading around trying to figure out where the sound was bouncing, but still couldn’t find him. Panicked now that I’d have to deal with a second dead dog in less than a year, and one that the Squirrel had clearly already bonded with, we forded the river, which was what one might expect from a river still cold with runoff, where we had a better vantage and a rocky beach. And suddenly, there he was, happily bounding over to us. Whatever he had been stuck on had simply found itself unstuck as soon as he was called in a different direction.
And I, freezing and anxious and with confused Squirrel, I let him jump upon me with all his freezing wet idiotic being, and I patted him and made sure he was okay.
Rest assured, I’m back to perpetual annoyance with him. I wouldn’t want this moment to otherwise soften my grump.