Four years ago today we were among friends toasting Obamaʼs election with some divine bubbly brought by our dear pal, Rocco.
Also on November 4th that year, our pup Lucy was born on a farm near Warkworth, Ontario. Six weeks later, we brought her home. Her breeder assured us that sharing a birthday with a presidential election meant this tiny creature was destined for greatness.
Destined for dysfunction is closer to the truth.
Our first days with Lucy were warm, fuzzy love-ins. Christmas was over but we left up the decorations and settled in to bunk with our new house mate. She went about with her squat little frame, duping us, suddenly, into being “dog people” every time she rolled over for a tummy rub.
She was frisky, hug tolerant and remarkably adjusted to separation from her parents, Celeste and Billy. The breeder warned us that Coton de Tulear pups were like potato chips. You could never have just one.
Oh yes you can.
Four years later, I tip my hat to those wise friends who tried talking me down from the ledge. When we jumped into the world of pet ownership, we found, as they had warned, another baby to care for, another schedule to adhere to, another distraction to delay our chronically late crew. Still, I tore through puppy manuals that dictated three key rules: Puppies must receive, in the following order: training, exercise and love.
Our family got it backwards (not the first time).
Lucy has been cuddled, squeezed, carted and cradled about as the world’s best breathing Teddy.
Love? How about smothered?
Walking Lucy was an Event in the first years. Like Obama, she endured poking and prodding from fans who just wanted to be in her aura. Her photo ops included the obvious: kissing babies,
…and posing with important voter groups.
We wondered if we could start charging a fee from those who begged to pet her on neighbourhood walks and to this day, she remains a magnet for female attention when my husband takes her on solo jaunts.
In stunning models of consistency, each of us has our own distinctive discipline method that match our mood of the day. We hung bells on the door knobs and taught her to nudge them when she got the urge to tinkle. Genius! Alas, spotting a squirrel or chipmunk out the window also caused the bells to ring and I had to resist stomping on them as I put them away in the box of Formerly Ingenious Things.
We did heed the puppy trainers who told us to keep her in her crate by the kitchen. After several months, we could not endure the outraged squeaks that developed as Lucy realised her people were sleeping in more luxurious arrangements upstairs.
Today, Lucy rotates through bedrooms in capricious fashion and has found her voice, a feisty bark to announce herself as she trots imperiously down our street. While she is a dog for all the people, she has little interest in building consensus in the dog park. She may have grasped the idea to come when called, but like the humans who inhabit our household, her hearing has limits. During meal prep, she waits with such intense focus for bites to drop that I wonder why she canʼ’t teach us all a little strength of purpose. Her enduring fluffiness continues to win her affection from the teenagers who invade our household but she has endured long stretches without walks as we all scramble about the circus of our lives. We make up for it with dog dates and other adventures
which usually become favourite family days.
My four-year-old pooch now sits at my feet as I anguish over empty spaces on the page. She stares up at me as if to remind me to get outside and smell the wet leaves underfoot. Breathe in the air of autumnʼs last leaf dance.
There may yet be undecided voters in that great and bizarre land to the south but up here, we have long since voted and remain the flawed but faithful posse of Our Leader Lucy.