I have recently discovered that dogs and babies have something important in common (other than being cute, that is): They both like to vomit in the most inconvenient of places and at the most inconvenient of times.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against either dogs or babies. I’d probably be un-American or some kind of heartless ogre if I objected to either. Seriously, they rock our world. And I believe that both are entitled to good homes and the best of care. Just as long as it’s not my home or my care. This is largely a product of the aversion to bodily secretions (and cleaning up same) that my wife and I share.
For 15 years, my wife and I enjoyed a blissfully child- and dog-free married life. Then I was laid off from my job and we moved in with family, 650 miles away in northern California. Now we spend a lot of time babysitting for my little grandniece. As for my two young nephews who live here in town, each one seems to own three or four dogs at any given time, and usually a couple of cats thrown in for good measure.
Among my realizations as a human and canine uncle is that, in both cases, there is a lot of slobber, puke, pee and poop involved. It looks disgusting, smells worse, and I routinely go running to find someone else to clean it up.
After Pastor Mom opened her birthday gifts on Saturday, many of us walked from the social hall over to the church (where the air conditioning was actually working) to sing karaoke. This proved to be an interesting experience, as my nephews promised Pastor Mom that they would be duly respectful of the church atmosphere and would avoid singing any inappropriate song. In this day and age, that pretty much eliminates everything. My nephews settled on country music, a genre in which there are a few songs that do not contain any profanity, references to drinking or drugs, or overt misogyny. Okay, very few.
As a technodork, I had to ask my savvy wife how this was going to work. She explained that it is no longer necessary to have backing tracks on CD because karaoke versions of most popular songs are available on YouTube and can be played directly from a smart phone through the church’s amplifiers. Mindful of their limitations, my nephews settled on, of all things, Bobby Vinton songs. For some reason, however, there didn’t seem to be any karaoke versions of “Roses are Red” or “My Melody of Love” available on YouTube. Undaunted, the boys proceeded to use the versions that were available, meaning that we were treated to decidedly unique performances of Mr. Vinton and my nephew singing over each other. No matter, however; there were several babies in attendance, and we were soon treated to the distraction of one of them barfing all over Pastor Mom.
Unfortunately, we’ve had no better luck in the canine department this past week. Pastor Mom’s friend (also a pastor) was here visiting and helping with the birthday party preparations. Although she lives in the Central Valley, she came here directly from visiting friends and family in Oregon. Now, Pastor Mom’s friend had her dog with her. Pastor Mom planned to drive her friend home to drop the dog off with a neighbor, then turn around and come home, only to do the trip a second time after the party. My wife and I told Pastor Mom that all that driving was just ridiculous and that there was no reason we couldn’t put up with the dog for a week. <insert laughter here>
Weeeelllll… Um, where shall I begin? What a cute doggie! A chihuahua/terrier mix with a face that looks somewhere between a bear’s and a fox’s. And, of course, she had to come with a cute name, too: Shelby. And then she’d jump up on the sofa, curl right up next to me as if I were her BFF and start licking my hand. Even if you’re not a dog person, how can your heart not melt?
And then I awoke at 3 a.m. for one of my never-ending pee runs (among the many delightful perks of being 55 years old), only to find that ol’ Shelby had beaten me to it. Only she didn’t bother using the toilet.
And the next night, we moved from liquid mode to solid mode when my nocturnal pee run was met with, uh, well, let’s say I just barely missed stepping in it. Peee-yooo!
And the next night, my niece, who was also visiting with us, allowed Shelby to jump into bed with her, whereupon our canine friend proceeded to barf all over the nice clean sheets.
Everyone, repeat after me: I love dogs. I love dogs. I love dogs. Okay, you can beat me over the head now.
Good girl, Shelby. Yes, I’ll pat your head and scratch your ears. Please stop begging me for my food. Your food dish is full. Besides, dogs aren’t supposed to like pickles.
I suppose I should digress here and mention a little something about my mother’s cat, Taffy. Now, Taffy is a very old cat at age 17. She no longer stays outside at night, instead curling up on the couch or on one of the rugs or else just roams the house as she pleases. We stayed over at my parents’ house two nights last week. One of their two bathrooms is out of order at the moment (which could itself be the subject of an entire blog post), meaning that if either of my parents needs to pee in the middle of the night, they have to leave their master suite and walk down the hall to the bathroom that is near the front door. On our second night there, my father did so in the middle of the night. In the dark.
Well, you know what comes next. “Mrrrooowwwww!” My father stepped on poor Taffy, narrowly missed pratfalling onto the floor himself (not a good thing when you’re 80 years old), and suffered a lovely scratch on his left foot to seal the deal.
Back on the home front, Shelby had to take her turn playing this little game as well. I guess she was happy I was home. After all, it only took two days for her to quit barking her head off every time I walked through the door. I think she finally figured out that I live here. So when I entered the house with an armful of bags and took a hard left into the kitchen, Shelby bounded after me and ended up underfoot. Before I could put the bags down, I heard a sickening yelp that let me know that I stepped on her paw. I believe I yelled something decidedly uncharitable in her general direction, for which I am truly sorry. I promise never again to refer to any canine friend as a cur, a mongrel or a bitch. Honest, I do.
As for babies, toddlers and their stinky bodily secretions, I may also need to take back some of the things I may have said in various fits of olfactory pique. After all, just tonight my little grandniece finally said the word “uncle” for the first time.
Turn me into jelly and knock me over with a feather, why don’t ya.