Eight years ago, this September, Claire selected the runt of the litter to give to her mother, in her nineties, for Christmas. He was a black and white Shih-Tzu Bichon Frieze cross. In the middle of his forehead was a clump of white hair contrasting with his jet black coat. I recall looking off to the side of the table where I read my morning newspaper with my coffee, and, seeing this little skull-like face staring up at me. I remember nick-naming him “Pickles” because he was most always doing something he shouldn’t. Like gnawing at my slipper, or, tearing up the newspaper that had fallen to the floor. He scampered up and down the stairs like a jack-rabbit.
Claire’s mother live on the other side of the country. All the while we were getting there, I prayed that Pickles would be rejected by her, and, we would take him back home with us. We would then have three dogs: Tobi, Kikko, and, now, Pickles. Each of these have been blogged about elsewhere.
Each time we visited her mother, Pickles, now renamed Pom-Pom, sought me out and stuck to me like corn syrup to a piece of toast. We all thought it was just that he remembered us. Now, when I look back at those times, I have come to realize that he wanted to be with us, always.
Now, he is.
He is a barker. He barks at other dogs he sees on the street as we drive to someplace to walk he and Kikko. He barks at women pushing baby carts. At boys on their boards. At anyone on roller blades. Sometimes, he barks for the sheer pleasure of it. We have attempted all manner of methods to dissuade him, but to no avail. In the car as we drive to a place to walk them, he stands on Claire’s lap, his front paws on the dash gleaning the every changing scene in front of him for something to bark at.
I just accept it. I restrain his enthusiasm with the leash. That is all I can do, besides looking ashamedly away from all persons.
But I appreciate his tenacity, and it encourages me to do the same – not bark – but hold onto what is me. The energy he puts into life, and, the full force of sleep that envelopes him when he closes his eyes after keeping me in his vision for as long as possible. He is passionate about life, and, it encourages me to be passionate about mine. He gets Kikko doing the same thing. With Tobi’s passing, Kikko had become listless, forever seeking his lifelong friend. Pom-Pom has erased all of that. When I am feeling low, or sad, or unhappy. I look at this eight pound piece of life and gather from him the energy to wake up to the passion of life. I wonder at the growth in that wee brain that stretched out a paw to turn a treat one quarter turn to permit himself to grab it in his teeth, or, my use of a new word of command with which he increases his bilingual vocabulary. When I look at him sleeping on my bed, it makes me think of the poem “Little Bateese by W.H. Drummond.
William Henry Drummond (1854-1907)
You bad leetle boy, not moche you care
How busy you ‘re kipin’ your poor gran’pere
Tryin’ to stop you ev’ry day
Chasin’ de hen aroun’ de hay–
W’y don’t you geev’ dem a chance to lay?
Off on de fiel’ you foller de plough
Den w’en you ‘re tire you scare the cow
Sickin’ de dog till dey jomp the wall
So de milk ain’t good for not’ing at all–
An’ you ‘re only five an’ a half dis fall,
Too sleepy for sayin’ de prayer to-night?
Never min’ I s’pose it ‘ll be all right
Say dem to-morrow–ah! dere he go!
Fas’ asleep in a minute or so–
An’ he ‘ll stay lak dat till de rooster crow,
Den wake us up right away toute suite
Lookin’ for somet’ing more to eat,
Makin’ me t’ink of dem long leg crane
Soon as dey swaller, dey start again,
wonder your stomach don’t get no pain,
But see heem now lyin’ dere in bed,
Look at de arm onderneat’ hees head;
If he grow lak dat till he ‘s twenty year
I bet he ‘ll be stronger dan Louis Cyr
An’ beat all de voyageurs leevin’ here,
Jus’ feel de muscle along hees back,
Won’t geev’ heem moche bodder for carry pack
On de long portage, any size canoe,
Dere ‘s not many t’ing dat boy won’t do
For he ‘s got double-joint on hees body too,
But leetle Bateese! please don’t forget
We rader you ‘re stayin’ de small boy yet,
So chase de chicken an’ mak’ dem scare
An’ do w’at you lak wit’ your ole gran’pere
For w’en you ‘re beeg feller he won’t be dere–