Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Then there were five (mutts), again

After our dowager mutt Gladys died several months ago, under sad and questionable circumstances, Stew and I made a solemn pact not to adopt another dog. I knew it was going to be a fragile promise, though, what with a canine chorale that assembles outside our front gate every day howling for food, a reassuring pat on the head and a back scratch—and admission to The Other Side.

No more stray mutt, mister. From now on, it's Señorita Ellie to you. 
This ensemble is made up of seven to ten members, of all sizes, colors and appearances. There's a scruffy Benji look-alike that knows English commands that he must have learned from his previous owner who likely abandoned him by the side of the road. I'd like to think that he got lost; I can't fathom how someone could dump an animal that gentle and beautiful and just drive away.

There's also Malcolm, a small orange number with short hair, a mutt from central casting, with a tightly curled tail and a squeaky bark calling for attention whenever someone approaches the gate. Malcolm practically lives outside the gate under a bush, with Poochito, a smallish, twice-removed relative of a Border Collie, with long black matted fur. Stew named him Poochito because he looks like a small replica of our Chicago dog Pooch.
We have tried a few times to wean the dogs from our food handouts but it's impossible. They keep gathering at the gate, skinnier by the day, their howling gradually turning into a desperate dirge. So after several days we say, okay, okay, okay and get more bags of dog food that right now run about a hundred dollars a month.

We've sterilized all of them but when one disappears a replacement promptly joins the pack after a brief audition by the other members. That's how an orange Chihuahua-nese female appeared about three weeks ago, at first crawling timidly but then leaping, licking and nipping at our pants. She would not be ignored.
She timed her appearance well. Stew, Felix and I still miss Gladys, who died at the vet's office we suspect of bungled or negligent treatment. Gladys left a glaring vacancy in our pack of five dogs.

Left is my best side. 
I tried to be firm in my arguments against taking in another dog but neither Stew nor the little orange mutt—a genius at self-marketing—would give up. I knew it was game over when Stew started writing possible names, most of which began with "e", as in Edna, Ethel, Ellie.

Ellie (and Stew) won and after a trip to the vet for shots, de-worming and spaying, she's doing delirious figure eights inside and outside the house. She must have been someone's pet, because her tail was chopped off and she seems to be housebroken. The vet figures she's about nine months old and in the middle of teething which means a gnawing frenzy, including pant cuffs, with her piranha-sharp choppers. After a few growls from the resident dogs and two cats—which seemed unnerved mostly by her energy—Ellie seems to be fitting in well.

If any readers are interested in adopting—please, I don't want any more dogs—e-mail me and I'll introduce you to the outside pack: Malcolm, Benji, Poochito, Brenda, Osita and Doofus #1 and Doofus #2 (also known as the Doofi sisters), and any others that may have shown up by the time you get here.

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