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Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 09.03.05
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

The dog days of August

"You swore you would look after this dog, so guess what? You get to clean it up."

Sorry. Just practising. We've had a dog for nearly two weeks and I'm waiting for the thrill to wear off and the promises to be forgotten.

"A dog?" you say. Yes, a six-month-old stray we adopted from the SPA in Sherbrooke. "What about your so-called pet moratorium?" you smirk. Well, that went out the window with the arrival of the cat last year. "I thought you were especially adamant about no dogs," you sneer contemptuously. (Honestly, do you have to be so harsh?)

Apparently I promised that we could get a dog when Abby turned four. I must have been DWI (debating while intoxicated) because I don't remember any such thing. I'm sure such a promise would not be binding in a court of law. However, it is binding in the court of mom. Once Deb got on the Beast Bandwagon, I knew resistance was futile.

So two Saturdays ago, we headed to the SPA and entered the Sucker Room (my name, not theirs), where all the dogs looked up at us eagerly from their cages as if to say, "Pick me, pick me. I'm the type of dog they write epic poems about. I'll bring your slippers. If you don't have slippers, I'll steal you some."

One of the dogs was a black Lab/spaniel. She had a plastic funnel around her neck to prevent her from scratching the stitches at the top of her head where the vet had removed some kind of mysterious lump. It left her with a bald, pointy peak right at the top of the skull. With the funnel, she looked like a four-legged satellite dish for picking up dog signals and the sounds of crusts falling to the floor. She was needy, sad and pathetic.

"She's the one," the kids said.

On the way home, we set about finding a name. The family rejected my bid to call her "Gimpy" or "Lumpy." The kids liked "Roxie." I protested. Every time someone called her I'd have Sweeney Todd's "Roxie Roller" stuck in my head - not fun.

Eventually, we settled on "Rosie," which has me singing the Jackson Browne song but that's okay because it's kind of naughty. (You see, Rosie is actually is hand andů oh, never mind.)

Rosie settled in immediately, thanks in part to the almost constant attention of the kids. To my amazement, they've even picked up her lawn-droppings without too much protest. I give it three more weeks.

The dog has not entirely been a hands-off enterprise for mom and dad. For instance, I seem to be the one who dashes downstairs at 5 a.m. when Rosie's bladder reaches maximum capacity. And due to work circumstances, I'm the one who had to drive Rosie back to the SPA last week to get her head checked after fluid began to collect and the lump ballooned alarmingly. I'm the one who had to clean the van after Rosie tossed her dog biscuits on the drive down. And I'm the one who went back Monday for another check-up and more biscuit-tossing.

Despite the inconvenience and the concern that we may have picked the only sickly stray in the Townships, I begrudgingly admit that she is a good dog. She's not a yapper. She's mostly trained. She seems content to be restricted to the furniture that's already been ruined through child use. And she's happy, gentle and not too slobbery. But that's as far as I'll go. So if you see someone who looks like me rubbing the dog's ear and going, "Who's a good girl? She's a good girl, isn't she?" it wasn't me. It was my pathetic twin, that sucker.

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