I’ve told y’all this story before. But it seemed perfect for this week’s Spin Cycle topic, “Pets.” So, I’m telling it again doing a re-run because I’m southern and we love to repeat ourselves it’s a subject that I’m passionate about.
I love my dog, Hannah. She is like my own child. She is the “baby” that my husband and I could not have. We really feel that way about her. If, God Forbid, we were to ever get divorced, I’m sure we would fight over custody of her.
Now I realize there are folks who are not dog lovers. I don’t understand it, but I know they are out there. What I don’t understand is how someone can dislike an innocent creature, who has done them no harm, to such an extent that they don’t care if they insult the owners. Because, let’s face it, y’all, owners are people. Usually people that these dog haters profess to care about.
So here’s my spin on this. And listen, if you love a person, try not to shudder when their furry child walks into the room. Really, y’all. It’s rude.
How Could You Not Just Love Her?
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 a lot 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 (we call it the “Great and Powerful 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 bite 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 hit 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’.