Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obey The Breed

Peace has been shattered on this Sunday morning by the incessant barking of The Cocker. I love the spaniel but he is at times too many a pain in the ass. His "look at me" tirades usually begin with infantile whimpers and pawing at the bedroom door. He gradually escalates to maniacal angry whelps and high pitched barks that can be heard on the next block.

Over the years, since I've lived in this house, I am amazed the neighbors have never complained, at least not to me. The elderly German lady next door even says nice things about him and comments on his 'cuteness.' Yeah right. The dog has held me hostage going on four years now. I too was at first seduced by the blonde adorableness; a clever disguise if ever there was one. I am convinced THE Cocker is the most devious breed on the planet. Mine, thinks he can worry me into feeding him a box of dog biscuits at a time. Portion control is not in his lexicon.

When it's time for a walk, he grabs the leash from my hand as though I am moving too slow and waits for me at the bottom of the stairs. When he's done with his 'busness,' he opens the door, streaks up the stairs and into the kitchen where he checks the floor for anything remotely edible and then the barking begins.

Cocker and I met one Saturday morning. I got up with the overwhelming urge to get a dog. The thought came as a complete surprise but out the door I went in search of the local Humane Society. For no particular reason, I followed a beat up old clunker being driven by an elderly woman with a kind face. Wouldn't you know, it was Frances, the director of the local shelter. Unbelievable but true. She hopped out of her car in front of a gated building near the lake, which later she told me used to be a jail. Yeah, think of the irony. Go to jail. Get a dog. Take home a bandit "You here to volunteer?" "No I'm here to adopt." The bandit, er I mean Cocker was in a cell, surrounded by lesser breeds. He was lying dejectedly in a corner. Frances told me she had brought him in the day before after allowing him to stay at her house. It seems her other pets didn't like him. Hmmmmm, I wonder why. The Cocker had been left in the hands of those who devote themselves to homeless dogs when his owners, a couple in the Army were shipped off to Iraq. He had veterinary records and obedience papers, all written in Spanish. The owners had bought him at a puppy mill in Mexico.

When I approached, he stirred and came to the cage door and licked my outstretched hand. As if on cue, Frances beamed and said, "Tha's odd. He's been snapping at other people." For the dogless who may be reading, that's code for; 'This dog's for you.' After an interview, (yes an interview!)and much signing of papers where I promised to love, honor and obey the breed, Frances let me leave with the dog. By the way, I received more adoption update requests from the shelter than I ever got after adoptiong my son from Catholic Services. After taking (M) home from the airport, I never heard from the agency again. That's a story for another time. I opened the door to freedom, The Cocker jumped into the front seat of the Camaro, rolled over on his back and opened his mouth. His tongue lay to the side of his mouth which I swear was grinning from ear to ear. I relished in his pleasure and turned the air conditioner in the car to full blast. Then off we went to the groomer.

I believe The Cocker and Jeff have had a love affair since day one. I am convinced the lead groomer at the local Petsmart knows a language only he and the dogs can understand. The Cocker loves Jeff and more importantly, he happily obeys Jeff. Maybe it's the foo manchu mustache. Cocker must think it's some sort of hip doggy cut. Jeff gave The Cocker a mohawk which suits him well. When he struts through the swinging doors to meet his adoring public, I must admit, I am proud. I guess that's what it's all about, the feeling that I get when I see him. He is mine and for better or worse, I am his.