Friday, August 7, 2009
Unlike me, she does not need an IV of coffee to wake up in the morning. Her eyes spring open and just like that she’s ready for the day. It’s usually about 7:00 a.m. I hear her stir and try to stay as still as possible, maintaining slow and even breathing. I do not want her to know I’m awake yet, hoping to get just a few more minutes of respite from an increasingly crazy world. I can feel her staring down at me from her perch on my pillow, her breath at my ear, then her tiny tongue ever so lightly on the tip of my nose – and I’m screwed. Just a one miniscule twitch, but that’s all it takes. She pounces full force on my face, “I know you’re in there!” I roll over and duck my head under the covers, but to know avail. When the Chihuahua is awake, everyone is awake.
She dances on my head until I give in, throw back the covers, and stagger to the screen door to take her out for her morning potty. Dixie was very easy to potty-train because every time she peed or pooped I would always clap and shout “Yay, Dixie!” And I still do. I sometimes wonder what my self-esteem level would be if every time I peed someone would clap and shout, “Yay, Jayne!” but I’ve yet to find that kind of devotion.
Into the kitchen we go to get her breakfast, Dixie prancing at my feet. I will not be ready for my breakfast until I have downed my first 16-ounce thermos of “just plain coffee,” but that’s another story. I get the can from the refrigerator, scoop out a large tablespoon onto a saucer, and stick it in the microwave for six seconds -- no more, no less -- so that it is just the right temperature for the princess. The sound of the timer going off sends her into what will be the first of many dizzying twirls of anticipation and joy to come this day known as the “Happy Dance." Dixie is the very definition of joy. I mean exploding with the stuff. This can be hard to take when you’re a natural born curmudgeon like I am, but damned if she isn’t winning me over. Still no coffee and yet, yes, I’m actually smiling.
As a puppy, Dixie was highly influenced by my elderly cat, Chelsea, who in true cat fashion sleeps most of the day. So Dixie eats her breakfast, then back to bed she goes leaving me to drag myself into my office and begin my day’s work. For most of my life I have been known as a cat person and not a dog person. I like cats for the same reason many do not – their complete indifference to what you think of them. They do not suck up. They require little care. Feed me, clean my box and maybe, when and if I’m in the mood, I’ll let you pet me. That’s something I can relate to – yet another possible reason why I’m single. Dogs, on the other hand, are always smiling. It used to just creep me out. Their expectations are way too high. I don’t need something else to make me feel inadequate. But somehow, this tiny creature has completely and totally kicked my ass and I live to do her bidding.
My work day ends promptly at six. I know this not because I have a clock, but because every day, at just that moment, Dixie has decreed it to be so and starts to bring her toys, one-by-one, into my office. First comes the purple bear. She glances up at me with it in her mouth, her big brown eyes telling me it’s time to play now. If I fail to respond, this will go on until her toy basket is empty -- the pink flamingo with one foot chewed off, the little yellow chicken with the broken squeaker, the “Grrrrrona” beer bottle complete with stuffed lime in the top – until finally I shut off the computer and engage in a rousing game of fetch complete with shouts of “Goooooooo get it!” followed by a shrill and rapid “C’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere, c’mere…” She never tires of this. I will collapse before she does.
Dixie also enjoys watching TV, mostly reality shows, “Underdog to Wonderdog” being her favorite. She jumps onto my lap, crawls up my chest to just underneath my chin and settles comfortably onto “the boob shelf”. There is something about loving a little dog that is so visceral, especially when she is sitting right on top of my heart, her breath rising and falling with mine. I cannot begin to describe how calming it is. Okay, not a few glasses of Chardonnay or a couple of Xanax calm, but pretty damn near... And you can still drive if need be.