Friday, January 15, 2010

On what it's like to be the ugly step-sister.

Rumour has it I was adopted based on the careful selection process of one grumpy old Alaskan Malamute called Rufus B Thumper.

Of all the dogs Mr Thumper was invited to meet at the various dog pounds, I was the only one he didn't growl at.

Of course I'm terribly grateful for this simple act of kindness. I dread to think of what my life would be without my princess bed.

So this story is dedicated to Mr Thumper, my housemate.

Mr Thumper is almost 10 years old now. Like me, he was adopted from a pound. He was found in a cage, whimpering and howling like a baby and this pitiful display obviously worked on the humans.

Apparently, even the pound manager told them at the time, "You would be crazy to take him!"

But take him they did.

Mr Thumper's first act of freedom was to pick up a chihuahua that had been inadvertantly left in the reception room of the pound. I understand everyone in the room did not breathe for at least 30 seconds while he held the little dog in his mouth, deciding if it was possibly a new flavour of Schmackos Strapz.

But I think everyone just misunderstood Mr Thumper's intention.

I think all he wanted to do was give the little fella a scare to let him know he shouldn't wander about strange reception rooms all by himself because the world was a dangerous place. I'm sure the chihuahua [who was dropped completely unscathed from Mr Thumper's mouth] NEVER forgot the lesson.

Like me, Mr Thumper was 8 months old when he was adopted. Despite being rather beautiful, he had already been abandoned twice, which no doubt accounted for his irascible nature.

He had been desexed and given a hormone injection, but that did not stop Mr Thumper from believing he was A Top Dog.

Mr Thumper was hard work from day one.

His fur needed hour long grooming sessions 3 times a week to keep it untangled and lustrous.

He was sickly and finicky about food and was capable of not eating for 5 days at a time, sending the humans into a state of panic where they would literally spoonfeed him.

Hardest of all, Mr Thumper did not like other dogs.

He didn't care if they were big or little, pups or geriartrics. Mr Thumper was intent on living up to the proud and lonely tradition of Being A Malamute.

So it was that Rufus B Thumper became the first and only dog ever under the care of the humans to go to a private boarding school for recalcitrant dogs.

It cost hundreds of dollars and lasted 3 fretful weeks but it was all worth it because Mr Thumper returned home a transformed dog.

He now knew his name and understood the word, "Sit!"

Getting him to be sociable took a few years longer, but it was a very good start. [What were you expecting? A fairy tale?]

Here I have to digress because I've discovered I cannot talk about Mr Thumper without mentioning another dog that used to live in this little house. His name was Jordan Puff Piglet and he was Mr Thumper's oldest and best friend and they grew up together.

There's a picture of Mr Piglet on the kitchen wall - he's the only dog that's allowed to hang around the kitchen.
I never got to meet Mr Piglet but I can still smell him on the carpet and in some corners. I can't see him, I don't know where he is but he's not here anymore.

I think Mr Piglet and Mr Thumper were very happy together. They went on picnics and holidays and special excursions and shared many big bones over the years.

Then, one fateful day in the park, Mr Thumper's life changed.

He fell while playing, hurt his leg, and despite lots of cuddles, chicken soup and a big operation that cost the same as a deposit on a small apartment, Mr Thumper never really ran again.

In the years that followed, Mr Thumper became famous in the neighbourhood as the Dog With the Yellow Booty. Summer after winter after summer, he limped and dragged his bad paw through the streets and parks, became subdued, sleepy, a sad shadow of his former self.

But then, just as it seemed The End was imminent, Mr Thumper met a H-o-l-i-s-t-i-c Doctor Dog who told the humans he had h-y-p-o-t-h-y-r-o-d-i-s-m.

It was a miracle! 2 little pink pills twice a day later, Mr Thumper was back!

Now, I have to be clear and remind you that this is all hearsay and legend. I have, after all, only been with the family for 9 months.

The Rufus B Thumper I know is crabby and stubborn but wouldn't hurt a fly. He breathes too loudly, farts a lot, is incontinent and, sadly, is losing his lustrous hair.

His tail is almost bare, he can hardly walk [unless he thinks I'm about to get a liver treat in which case he can be very quick] and yet, people on the street always stop to talk to him or ask about him, to take his picture, to give him a tentative little pat or throw him a bun or piece of cabonossi.

I'll tell you a secret...*shhhh*... just between you and me...

I don't think Mr Thumper is particularly smart.

And he's certainly no Mr Congeniality.

But he's something much more than that.

He's Absolutely Gorgeous! A Polar Bear Of A Dog! Almost A Pony You Can Ride! With a tongue that's the longest you've ever seen! And huge paws that go "thump, thump, thump!" on the sidewalk!

* The beauty of Mr Thumper is that he has always been able to make people smile. *

I am, without a doubt, the ugly step-sister in this story and the duckling that will never become a swan.

But you know what?
There's nowhere else I'd rather be than walking [overlooked and ignored] next to my friend and benefactor, The One And Only, Rufus B Thumper.

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