I own three dogs because I like dogs and because when I was 11 years old my mom wouldn’t let me have another dog after our black lab died, and in protest I promised, “You just wait! When I grow up I’m going to have three dogs!” At the time, it seemed like a threat.
I also have three dogs because I live in northwest Pennsylvania and in the winter they’re as necessary as Gore-Tex and wool for staying warm. On cold nights, I share a full-size bed with a husband and 250 pounds of canine. It’s very cozy.
On a normal day, Jake goes out back, pees on the water barrel, sniffs around his favorite tree, and then wants to come back in. Add a few inches of snow, however, and he’s impossible to get back in the house. He’s like a little kid, making snow angels and catching snowballs in his mouth. The upside is that I don’t have to dress him in snow pants and mittens. The downside is he’s bathed in classic wet dog scent when he comes in.
I wish I was as kind as Jake. Sure, there was that time he bolted out in front of me in the hallway causing me to fall and drop my sandwich, which he promptly ate, and he’s stepped on my arthritic toes more than a few times, but Jake has the kindest heart of any living being I know. When I cry, he sidles up next to me and puts his head on my lap and will sit there until I move or stop crying. He listens intently when I whisper my secrets in his ear and then looks at me as if to say, “I won’t tell a soul. I promise.” I wonder sometimes if he’s a reincarnated friend from a past life because I’ve long suspected we’ve both lived a few times before.
About six months after we adopted Jake, I went back to the pound and found an adorably strange looking, quiet and shaking 7-month-old mutt and brought her home. Her original name was so stupid that I had to change it. I thought about it awhile and decided who better to name her after than my great-grandma Mathilda? She’s dead. She won’t care.
Mathilda (also known as Til or Tilly) didn’t bark for six months. It was obvious she’d been abused and neglected, but in time she rose through the ranks and became alpha dog of the house. She is by far the most demanding. She’s fat and squatty due to some past medical problems, and when she wants attention she’ll foist all her 75 pounds on your lap. THAT, my friends, is a lot of dog in a small space. She’s been known to take my breath away with her body slams.
Mathilda is smart and sneaky and has the nose of a bloodhound. She steals the other dog’s bones and treats if we don’t watch her like a hawk, and outdoors in the woods she’ll roll in animal feces and dead carcasses. She’s a lot of fun to bring home after an outing. It’s how she earned her nickname, “Princess Rolls In Shit.”
Mathilda doesn’t like children. It’s not that she has ever been mean to a child; she just leaves the room when small children are present. If she were human I suspect she wouldn’t have chosen a career as a teacher or librarian. Mathilda would have been a trucker or barge loader, maybe a professional wrestler.
Super Duper Pooper Cooper came to live with us just over two years ago after the death of our beloved yellow lab, Sasha. Coop is in all likelihood a Flat Coated Retriever, although since we got him at the pound, we can’t track down his lineage or breeder. He’s the most loyal dog of any we’ve had. He likes me just fine, but it’s my husband he’s most attached to.
Cooper likes riding in cars, any car. If he walks past a car with its windows down, he jumps in and we pay hell trying to get him out. We call Cooper “Stealth Dog” because of how quiet and sneaky he is. True, he weighs about 70 pounds, but he’ll sneak up on your lap without you even knowing. First he puts one paw on your lap and look around like “Don’t mind me…,” then he’ll put his next paw on your lap. After that, he distracts you with kisses and the next thing you know, he’s all the way up on your lap with his front legs wrapped around your neck. I’ve been on dates with guys who’ve tried to do that, but none were as smooth as my dog.
It’ll be a three-dog night every night this week, but I’m ready. I might not be able to move with 250 pounds of dog in bed, but I’ll be mighty toasty warm.