How Could You Not Just Love Her?

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This is my Rottweiler, Hannah, and me. We are lying on our tummies at the top of our stairs, waiting for “Dad” to come back.  Hannah has  hip dysplasia, an affliction that is,  unfortunately, common to alot of rotts.  It makes it difficult for her to go up and down stairs and she requires alot of assistance. But she will endure all kinds of pain, if it means she gets to spend a little quality time being petted by mom and dad, while they watch TV in their Man Room. And getting a few bites of “people food” sweetens the pot a little, too, of course.

To get her up the stairs, one of us has to go ahead of her and call her. One of us has to get behind her and push her bottom as she painfully pulls herself up. Getting her back down is even more of an ordeal. I walk down backwards,  taking each step slowly and stopping on each one, to pat the previous step and call her. Hannah will come down one step at a time, with careful little hops, pausing to look at me plaintively between each step. When she finally reaches the bottom, she jumps onto the waiting area rug with a little triumphant flourish and a wag of her nub, as if to say, “I made it one more time, Mom!”

So going up to the Man Room, to spend the evening watching a movie, is quite a production at our house. Once up there, Hannah has to stay until we come down for bed. If we make a quick  trip down for a potty break, she lies at the top of the stairs in utter despair and infinite sadness, until we return. I love the expressions on her regal face, and this one always gets to me. Who couldn’t love her right to death, y’all?

My stepmother, that’s who.

Twice a year, my daddy, “Pa Bill”,  and his lovely wife, Shelba, travel six hours from their mountain home… to visit us, ya’ll. They know we have a dog. They know her name is Hannah. They know we love her just like one of our own children. But, when they show up for their Royal Visit, my stepmother, who acts like every dog in the world  is a  snarling hound from hell, ready to tear her limb from limb, will call Hannah “it” or “he”.

As in, “Ah’m asceered to go in the house, ’cause Ah’m asceered It will bite me!” This, as she stands firmly rooted to the spot, outside the front door, refusing to come inside, until we assure her, multiple times, that the dog is not even HERE! It is at grandma’s house for the evening. Then she’ll ask, “Are you sure he’s not here?  Ah’m afeared of Rock-wilders and Ah’m allergic to dawgs.”

We’ve gone down this road before, y’all.  Back in the beginning of our dog ownership, we tried, during the Royal Visit, introducing our sweet, adorable Hannah to her “step-grandmother.” To describe it as a “disaster” doesn’t even come close, y’all. After watching Shelba shudder and convulse every time Hannah even looked at her, we decided to put her in the bedroom and shut the door. Well, you just don’t do that to a dog who goes into mourning every time you go downstairs to take a pee break for a few minutes. Naturally, she tried scratching on the door.

SCRATCH on the bedroom door.

Shelba almost faints. “OH MY GOD, BEE-ILL!” She clutches my dad’s arm, in terror. “What was that?”

“It’s just Hannah, scratching at the door,” I explain, trying to stay calm.

Hannah hears her name. SCRATCH.

Shelba practically jumps straight off the couch, clutching madly at my father. “AH’M AFRAID HE’S GOIN’ TO GET ME!”  she wails.

Hannah, hearing all the excitement, decides to bark. A very polite bark, but still.

By now Shelba is all but having a nervous breakdown. She’s shuddering, she’s trembling, she’s probably wet her “bloomers”. My dad is staring at me accusingly, as if I am the perpetrator of a diabolical plot to drive his poor bride mad.

“She can’t get out! She’s not going to bites you! She just wants to come in and say hello!” I try to explain.

“Ah just don’t know why you’s cain’t put him in the yah’rd,” Shelba says, tearfully.

“Well,” I say. “We don’t have a fenced in yard and our homeowners association won’t let us put a dog outside unless there’s a fence or she’s on a leash.”

“Well you could tie him to a tree, couldn’t you?”

“No Shelba. It’s December. It’s 30 degrees out there. I’m not putting Hannah outside in this weather and TIE HER TO A TREE!”

Hannah hears her name. SCRATCH.

At this point, I made an executive decision, y’all. I decided that I would never, ever, as long as I live, put myself through this scenario again. So now, when Pa Bill and Shelba come for their annual Christmas visit, Hannah gets to go and spend the night at Grandma’s house. Hannah has been going to Grandma’s house for at least three years now, and Shelba still stands in the front yard, afraid to come in, until we assure her, repeatedly, that the vicious “Rock-wilder” is not here.

Funny thing is, Shelba, bless her heart, doesn’t mind our cat. And to tell you the truth, the cat would probably bite her quicker than Hannah ever would. Shoot. To tell you the truth, I’d probably bite her quicker than Hannah would. Not that I ever would, or anything, y’all. I’m just sayin’.

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5 thoughts on “How Could You Not Just Love Her?

  1. Shelba. I know it’s a pain in the ass to have her there and have to get through all her whining, but when you tell the story … it’s just hysterical!

    Shelba.
    Shelah.

    Hmmm … Interesting that the two biggest whiners we know share five out of six letters in their name. Ha!

    Hannah … bless her heart – even when she knocks me and Kirk in the nose – she’s still the sweetest!

  2. I have a ADHD Bailey dog Boxer. She will LOVE you to death. She is bigger than most kids who are afraid she will jump on them so we have to put her in the garage when we have kiddos over…not that Bay Bay is bad, she is just a strong love bug. I understand those dern people who are afeard of dogs.

    Shelba. Sounds like her mom spelled her name wrong and put an A instead of a Y.

  3. What a sweet dog! I just don’t get non-dog people I guess. I’ve always had them, and I always will. It cracks me up when people come to MY house and expect me to “do something” with my dog. My potentially future daughter-in-law showed up here with her dog (unannounced) was was irritated that I didn’t put Gracie out. Oh well. It’s great that Hannah has grandma’s house to go to. She’s probably spoiled rotten over there!

  4. I’ve had 5 Rotties and countless encounters with Shelba’s….whats up with that name anyway, it doesn’t roll off your tongue naturally. I keep wanting to call her Shelby. Funny I should read this today because yesterday Bob and I were discussing how years ago his sister was terrified to bring her daughter over because we had a big bad Rottweiler in the house. We had to put him in the bedroom and your whole story rings a loud bell.
    Yesterday my husband informs me that this same sister finally bought a dog. Her breed of choice you ask?

    Pittbull

  5. There’s a funny story about “Shelba”. For years we called her Shelby. Because my dad introduced her as “Shelby-Jean”. At my wedding (10 years after knowing her as “Shelby”) my aunt ran into her in the ladies room. Aunt says, “Oh, you must be Shelby!” To which she replied, in a loud, highly insulted *tone*, “My NAME is Shel-BA!”

    You just gotta love those step family moments, huh?

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