Friday, January 27, 2012

One Smart Cookie

My favorite cookie recipe has always been the one on the back of the yellow chocolate chip bag. When I was a little girl, my grandmother bought these wonderful miracle morsels and made them regularly. Even the burned ones would cause a fight. My grandfather would not allow my grandmother to toss them out, claiming they were his favorite. He even went so far as to dig them out of the trash if she had managed to scrape them off the cookie sheet before he discovered them. Yes, they were that good!

My favorite  Cookie, however, does not have to be baked; it's not a tasty treat made from a recipe of sugar and flour. This Cookie is a very clever canine ingeniuosly disguised as a 12 inch cottonball, aka. a Bolognese dog.

Cookie has been my sidekick for about 6 years now. She tricked me into taking her home after a visit to an animal shelter. I wasn't there with the intention of making any new friends, especially one I would need to feed and walk on a daily basis, but the book of life has a funny way of causing new chapters to be written and Cookie has become another chapter in my book. Someday you'll hopefully read my book and know more about my life with this wonderful creature but for now you will just learn of how she came to be my friend and got her name.

I was visiting my oldest daughter Maryanne who at the time lived in a larger city which was a two hour drive from us. My husband, my Big Guy, was having ear surgery there, so we had driven down the night before and his surgery had been scheduled for early that morning. When my Big Guy had come out of surgery and we were able to visit him in the recovery room, we found him prone but slightly propped up in a reclining chair. He was covered almost completely from head to toe in a warm blanket and a white sheet and the only tell tale sign of ear surgery that I noticed was a giant wad of cotton stuffed in his ear. As I looked at him for some sign of life, he slowly emerged from under the white sheet, opened his steely blue eyes and then grinned at me with the funniest, drunken grin. Just as quickly though, his eyes closed and he disappeared again under the white sheet. The nurse attending him said due to the anesthesia he had been given, he probably needed a few hours to sleep it off. Hearing this, my daughter suggested we run over to her local animal shelter. 

The shelter had a web site that my daughter had been trolling almost daily in her search for the perfect female dog. She had noticed a new litter of cute and small breed puppies that they had posted and insisted we just visit to "see" if they were as cute in person. Her husband was at work and she wouldn't make any decision to add to their family unit without talking to him first but the shelter would be closed by the time he came home so I had to go as his proxy.

We walked around the dozens of kennels that were full of large and medium breed dogs, many who were showing their eagerness to be petted or begging with loud barks to get out. Finally the woman who was in charge finished talking to another person about an old Bulldog and asked if she could assist us. My daughter inquired about the cute puppies she had seen on the web site only to be told that they had all been adopted the day before and the web site needed to be updated again. "Puppies are the most popular", the woman said, "and never stay longer than the release date.".

Then the woman looked straight at me and asked the question, "What kind of dog do you want?" and for some crazy and unknown reason I told her I would need a dog small enough to be portable since my husband and I had a business that caused us to travel quite a lot, and then I said something I can't believe I said.  I told her, "maybe something fluffy and white!".

Where did that come from? I had never owned a "foofoo" dog in my life. As a child, our dogs had all been sturdy mutts; usually scruffy mixtures of whatever came our way and needed a home. Later in my adult life, there were working class dogs like Collies, a Dalmation and even a huge Bouvier Des Flandres. Two separate times we raised floppy eared Basset Hounds and once we even had a Beagle. The closest my family had ever come to having a small "foofoo" dog were the smooth coat Chihuahua's two of my daughters had fallen in love with during the famous Taco Bell commercial era and If you have read the first post of my blog, you have learned about one of them named Rocky.

But for some strange reason, I told that woman, "maybe something fluffy and white!". I also told her, "But we've looked at all of your dogs and haven't seen anything that fits that category." which is when she informed me I must have missed the one that had just been brought back from being spayed. 

This being said we followed this woman back to the front of the facility where she pointed to a large, aquarium type display full of white paper shred. Looking closely through the glass, I tried to see anything at all that might be identified as a dog. About to ask what I was supposed to be looking for, I stopped at "What..." and watched closer as some of the shred began to move. Suddenly it shook and two dark, doe-like eyes were staring at me with a glassy eyed stare.

"What is that?" I asked.

"We're not certain," the woman said, "but we think she's some kind of a poodle mix." 

As I looked into those eyes I noticed a small mouth that begin to appear and then recognized the same drunken grin that I had just witnessed on the face of my Big Guy back at the clinic. Then this goofy thing fell back into the pile of shred, disappearing once again and leaving us only with the sound of a muffled doggie snore.

The woman from the shelter explained that it was probably a result of the anesthesia given for her surgery that caused the dog to behave so loopy. She offered to hold her for me if I paid a deposit and could come back later when the drugs had worn off. Maryanne loved the idea and before I knew what was happening she had paid the deposit and agreed we would return the next day to see this comical creature. I wasn't quite sure at that moment if I was adopting this dog or if my daughter was, but out of curiosity more than anything, I hoped I would be seeing her again the next day.

Later that evening at my daughter's home, with my Big Guy tucked comfortably into the guest room bed, I climbed in next to him and began to tell him about the dog. As tired as he was and still not feeling even seventy five percent normal yet, he patiently listened with his one unstuffed ear as I detailed every minute and gave a very descriptive story. As he listened, his eyes grew big and he nodded his head. Occasionally one eyebrow would lower but then I would say something that would make it return upwards and level with the other one again. 

"Well, what do you think?" I asked eagerly when I finished.

"About what?" he looked at me with eyes now squinting and lips firmly pierced.

"About going to see this dog tomorrow, what do you think?" I worried that the thought of getting another dog so soon after we were just recoving from a major financial crisis in our life, (another chapter of my book), might not be the right thing to do. 

"I'm not saying we adopt her, afterall, Maryanne may get her since she really wants a female dog. I just think we should consider it since I really miss having a dog in my life and this could be one that we could take with us everywhere; she's small and portable."

"Let me sleep on it." he moaned  as he turned over to be more comfortable. "I love you goodnight!" those words ran together quickly and then he was asleep.

The next morning after waking to the sounds of four rambunctious boys and a very alert chihuahua all doing loudly what they do best, we were discussing our trip to go home. My Big Guy was feeling much better and even agreed we could stop by the shelter since it would be on our way out of town. My daughter, who also had a discussion with her husband the night before, announced to the family during breakfast that they would not be adopting another dog, at least not this one. So we would go back to retrieve her deposit if for no other reason.

At the shelter later that day we were greeted by a different woman who looked up the deposit and then exclaimed, "Oh, you are here to see Pinky!". She explained how they gave each dog a nickname when they came to the shelter and then had us wait in a small room while she went to find the dog. 

"Pinky!" I looked at my Big Guy and smiled as I thought, with my love for all things pink, this just might be divine intervetion. I mean really, what are the chances that she would give this pooch a nickname that just happened to be my favorite color! The dog was white and fluffy so she could've just as easily called her Snowball or Cottonball. I wasn't quite sure the name Pinky would stay if she were mine but then again I wasn't quite sure my Big Guy would agree to adopt her either.

Finally after a few minutes the woman returned holding a creature that resembled a small lamb. Tightly matted curls that pilled up in places covered a wiggly, skinny torso and a feathery tail that wagged in circular motion so fast that I expected her to fly out of the womans arms. Her head which seemed to have the most hair was malapportioned to the rest of her and as soon as she was put on the floor, she immediately stood on hind legs and danced continuously for a good 5 minutes.

"She dances? How funny!" my Big Guy laughed as if warming up to this idea of having a dog again.

"Where did she come from?" I asked, scooping her up as she was on her back feet again performing a ballet.

The woman said she had been picked up off of the street just four days earlier. Even though she had been microchipped which allowed them to find records from a vet in another state, the only phone number that he could supply them, was no longer in service so her history stopped there. 

"Who knows how long Pinky had been wandering before she was picked up?" the woman said. "She was very dirty, very hungry and eager to be found." As near as they could tell, this dog was around four or five years old. Beside's a couple of pesky fleas and breath bad enough to stop a group of new and anxious oral hygienist's, she was given a full bill of health. 

Due to strict rules of the shelter, all dogs are spayed or nuetered on the third day after coming there. If her previous owners had kept her microchip records updated, maybe she would have been reunited with them and I would have never seen that goofy grin! As I sat with her, getting to know this strange pooch a little better, my Big Guy slipped out of the room to take a stroll around the kennels. I was beginning to think he was not relating to my new found love of a "foofoo" doggie. And then he returned and with a twinkle in his eyes and a big smile on that wonderful face he said, "Ok, lets take her home."

All the way home I was thinking of a good name we would call her. I could see why they nicknamed her Pinky since under all that white fluff was a skintone as pink as a pig's snout. But I wanted to give her a name that fit her personallity more than the color of her skin. 

"What about Cottonball?" my Big Guy asked and then quickly shrugged it off after I shot him a disapproving look. "I may need some time to figure this one out." I told him as I watched her stand on my lap and balance her front feet on the arm rest so she could see out the window. She seemed to take it all in and at times her tail would begin to wag at the sight of a person, bird or any living creature. Eventually she settled down and curled into a ball on my lap but would occasionally look up at me with those dark, doe-like eyes and I wondered if she was wondering what she would call me too.

Within a few days my fluffy white foofoo was learning all about our world. She traveled everywhere I went, enjoyed visits to our local petshop and had already walked the neighborhood with me several times. She knew almost immediately that she could go to the back door and sit in order to be taken out. She also knew that if the water bowl was empty, she could go to the sink and bark. She seemed to be very smart and I wondered if I could teach her some tricks, so on one of our shopping trips, I bought a bag of special doggie treats. When we returned home I placed the treats in a lower kitchen cabinet and closed the door. Later, while I was working at my computer, I looked down at my side and was surprised to find my little friend with that bag of treats between her front paws, trying hard to tear it apart with her teeth. As I proceeded to pry the bag from her playful but snarly teasing grip, I asked her, "How did you get this out of that cabinet? You really are one smart cookie, aren't you!" and that's when it occurred to me, I had finally figured her out and also needed to buy locks for my bottom cabinets.

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