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  • Ursula Werner

Dog-gone Quarantine

I knew something was up when Shoe Man stayed home for five straight days. Usually, he leaves the house in the morning, and I watch him from my window perch in the living room, as he gets into his car and drives away. No idea where he goes. Not my concern. I have enough to worry about, keeping vigil for the house. Isn’t that why Sweet Alpha put the new bench under the front window? So I could jump up and keep her apprised of threats? I mean, that’s the deal, right? Sweet Alpha loves me and pets me and walks me and feeds me (occasionally I even get a bully stick! yum, ya gotta love that dried-out bull pizzle). And I look out the front window and bark at everything to keep the home safe.

You’re laughing because you think I’m too little to keep the home safe. Well, you ain’t seen nothing, buster, if you doubt my ability to do you severe damage with my razor-sharp teeth. I may have been bred to be short and cute – what miniature dachshund isn’t? – and my teeth may be tiny, but I damn well know how to use them. Do I wish I was a Doberman Pinscher? Sometimes, sure. It would be nice to inspire fear and respect in everyone who sees me on a walk, rather than “Awww, she’s so cute! Can I pet her?” Grrr! Back away, woman. Cute, my ass. I could rip your face off if I wanted to. Or at least your cheek. If you bent down a bit more . . . ..

Anyway, as I was saying, Shoe Man used to be gone most days, but for the past week, he’s been home every single day. That’s unheard of. Totally weird. And disruptive to our routine. I mean, it used to be that Shoe Man would leave, and Sweet Alpha would make that hot black drink she likes, and she’d bring it into the study and sit at the desk and rest her hands on the flat silver box and dance her fingers around. But first she’d lift me up into the soft little bed she keeps on the desk right next to her.

I love that soft little bed. For awhile, when I was younger, I chewed holes in it, because the stuffing inside was so fluffy and enticing. I’d sink my teeth into that stuffing and start pulling, and there was just enough give, and just enough resistance, it was like pulling on the tail of a squirrel trying to hide in a hollow log, and then whoosh! A chunk of fluff would pop out. So satisfying. But there would still be more inside, I could see it, so I’d go back and do it again. And again. And again. It was addictive, really. I should have started a twelve-step program for dog bed destruction.

I don’t do that anymore. I’m older now, more mature. I only rip apart real things like birds and squirrels. And I sleep in the bed on Sweet Alpha’s desk while she does whatever it is she does. And Walter sleeps on his pad on the floor. Which is great, because that way he can’t get at me.

Seriously, bringing that Vizsla into this house was a mistake. I mean, that dog is bat shit crazy. He’s the canine equivalent of Mentos mixed into Pepsi Cola. Sometimes, sometimes, Walter is okay ­– like when nobody is home and we’re both stuck with each other, and he lets me curl up next to him at the front door, while we both wait for the sound of Sweet Alpha’s car door slamming shut. But other times – actually most of the time – he’s trying to remind me that he’s bigger than I am, and he grabs me by the scruff of my neck or by the fur on my tail – “dude, don’t go for the tail!” I’m yelling at him, but he is so not paying attention – and he pulls me out from the coffee table and starts barking like a banshee. At those times, he totally sucks.

So the routine used to be everyone lying around while Sweet Alpha sat at the desk, and then at some point she’d get up and we’d all go for a walk in the park. And we’d frolic and terrorize small woodland creatures and sniff the butts of other dogs and then we’d come back and sleep some more, and I’d bark at leaves falling in front of the house if there wasn’t anything else to bark at. And then it would be nighttime and Shoe Man would come home.

Okay, but now it’s all different. Now Shoe Man is here all the time. And that has messed with the routine. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shoe Man. I sit with him whenever he’s in the living room, because much as I love Sweet Alpha, Shoe Man’s lap is just more comfortable. More padding. Also, less competition. When Sweet Alpha sits in the living room, I cannot sit near her without psycho dog Walter leaping up on top of us and pushing me out of the way. "You are not a lapdog, mulch-brain," I growl from under a pillow.

With Shoe Man here, we’ve become peripatetic in the morning. (Yeah, I know you’re thinking, “Peripatetic. Now that’s a big word for such a small dog.” But remember, Sweet Alpha has the entire 26-volume Oxford English Dictionary on the lowest tier of the bookshelves in the living room. What else do you think I do at night?) The first few days, Shoe Man took over the desk in the study, because he has a work phone connected there. So Sweet Alpha moved all of us to the kitchen table. But she didn’t like that for some reason. (I for one, loved being closer to the smells of last night’s dinner.) So she tried the living room sofa. But Walter kept resting his snout on her arm when she opened the silver box and tried to dance her fingers. Finally, she ended up in the dining room. Which was great, because the dining room table had an excellent view of the street in front of the house, so I could stay in my bed and be vigilant at the same time. Except that I often fell asleep.

Still, all seemed to be well. Until Sweet Alpha got sick.

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