Friday, July 15, 2011

Four-legged Wrecking Crew

Forget everything you’ve ever read about moving with your pets. It is all bull shit!

You remember a week ago my lovely rescue beagle, Esmeralda, ran away for an hour? That was nothing compared to the first few days in our new mobile home.

Surprisingly, the one thing all the advice columns said not to do, I did, and it went well. They said (and I really wish I knew who “they” were) have someone watch your dog on moving day, then slowly introduce your dog to your new home. I took her with me. I also purchased a 15-foot chain, so she could be outside watching while the movers brought everything in.

Before you call the Humane Society, the chain is only for when I am outside, so she won’t go nuts while inside watching me. Esmeralda has this incredible need to be where I am.

As you know, I only have a general history of her first eight years of life, but apparently, she had been hooked to a chain before because she wasn’t even bothered by it. She watched patiently as my things were unloaded from the truck and taken inside and wagged her tail the whole time.

I thought, “Wow, this is going quite well. She is really adjusting.” Once everything was in, I unhooked her, walked her around a bit then took her into our new home. I set up her water dish and some food, just as I was advised by “they.” She drank some water then followed me around. She also witnessed my meltdown. Finally, she found a spot in the corner behind my bistro table to curl up and nap or observe.

I was so pleased.

Now, I must make one clarification from my prior post. Mindy does not dislike Esmeralda. She just doesn’t want her in her home again. The reason is because Esmeralda decided to damage an expensive custom-made window blind five minutes after being left alone. I take the blame because I knew Esmeralda hates blinds. She damaged them in my apartment the first week she was there, and the trick was to roll them half way up … or so I thought.

Frank, who was still with me, and I decided to run an errand to Lowe’s and get some dinner. I rolled all the blinds half-way up, closed all the doors to the bedrooms and bathrooms, and fed Esmeralda before leaving the house.

Before I go on, I have to share one more thing about my sweet little beagle. The Washington Animal Rescue League evaluated her and declared her a “purple” dog, meaning laid back, docile, just needing a quiet place to rest and be comfortable. I wonder what quack evaluated her, Dr. Phil?

That first week in my apartment, she removed a door frame, took down the blinds, knocked over a lamp, and pretty much drove herself crazy. OK, it was the first few weeks in a new home. But understand –the bitch has only six teeth and can chew through a wall!

Silly me, I figured by now, she was done with her need to tear down a home piece by piece. Was I a fool!

When Frank and I returned two hours later, she had removed the blinds from both windows in the living room and dining room, and she had destroyed them in the process. She also left a vengeance poop on the living room floor by the front door.

OK, she was adjusting. I didn’t even yell at her. I just cleaned up the mess and we went back to our business. Besides, they were just $4 mini-blinds. She didn’t touch the window treatments. She only hates blinds. I did put scratch guards on the door, door frame and window sills, so I was safe there.

And she never damages furniture or curtains! Or so I thought.

The next day, I left to go and clean the old apartment and run a few more errands, mainly to get new blinds. When I returned …

My lovely little Esmeralda removed all the curtains and left another vengeance poop on the floor by the front door. I yelled. I know I shouldn’t have, but jeez, she had chew toys, food, a Kong filled with treats, and more than anything, a lovely new home with no screaming neighbors, sirens, or loud fire alarms going off every time Five Guys burned an order of fries! She just wagged her tail because she thought it was all a game.

Did I mention I also take her on four 45-minute walks a day! How much energy can an old “purple” dog have?

I put in the new blinds on and rolled them all the way up, winding the cords around the valances, which she generously left in place, probably because she couldn’t reach them … or so I thought.

On Monday, I returned to work, and I called a dog walking service to come over that evening to interview because I thought that having a mid-afternoon break from her new career, razing mobile homes, would be entertaining for her.

I came home a couple of hours early and discovered something very odd. Two of my dining room chairs were on their sides and pictures I had on a side counter were knocked over. Had someone broken in? And yes, there was another pile of vengeance poop near the front door.

That little dog had managed to walk on top of the dining room table, knocking over the chairs when either going up or down. She also left nose prints on the windows, paw prints on the table and teeth marks on the chairs. I was planning on replacing the table anyway because it was a tad too big for the space – but not so soon!

In addition to all the above, she had howled, whined and barked herself hoarse. When she tried to bray, she sounded like Brenda Vaccaro. I looked at her and said, “You need to quit smoking menthols.”

I was at my wits’ end! I was also becoming quite religious asking God to help me not to kill this poor helpless creature I decided to rescue, who was destroying my new home piece by piece.

I considered getting a crate and putting a sign on it that said, “Beagle Jail. You do the crime; you do the time.” But after spending the first eight years of her life in a cage, she would probably hang herself in her cell or shank me with a Milkbone carved into a knife when I returned home.

As I was taking all the damaged goods to the curb for the garbage men to pick up, my neighbor across the street, a nice retired lady, came over and said, “Are you throwing all the window treatments away? They’re new.”

I told her the story and how I was interviewing dog walkers, and she said, “I’ll walk your dog twice a day while you’re gone. My husband says I am too old to get another dog, so I would love to watch yours.”

And she agreed to give her two walks for $2 less a day than I was going to pay the dog walker for one. Also, since she had two beagles at one time, she knew the craziness of the breed. I invited her in, and she took Esmeralda on a test walk. Esmeralda, who usually doesn’t like anyone but me, was not upset in the least  (I did walk with them to be sure).

We made a deal, I gave her the keys, and as I opened the door to say goodbye to her, I noticed that the wood was completely scratched away from the legs of an antique telephone table by my front door that was my Nana’s. There were also bite marks on the top of it. I rolled my eyes at Esmeralda, who was lying on the couch looking all innocent and wagging her tail.

The next day, I called Mrs. M around noon to see how the walk went. She said everything was fine, and she stayed with Esmeralda for a while and watched some television if that was all right. I had no problem with that.

When I returned home everything was fine. My dog was tired, and I walked her as usual before dinner and again before bedtime, and that night she slept and snored peacefully in a new space she claimed in the corner of my bedroom closet. I put a pillow in there for her to be comfortable.

Is she spoiled? Yes. Shut up.

There is an old Jewish joke, or story if you will, that goes like this:

An old man is on the roof of his home during a flood. A helicopter flies overhead, and the pilot says, “Grab the ladder and climb up.”

The man says, “Don’t worry; God will save me.”

A woman in a boat rows by and says, “Hop in!”

The old man says, “Don’t worry; God will save me.”

A talking whale swims by and says, “Hop on my back.”

And the old man says, “Don’t worry; God will save me.”

The old man drowns as the flood waters rise and upon arriving in heaven says to God, “Why didn’t you save me?

And God says, “Are you meshugina? I sent you a man in a helicopter, a woman in a row boat and a Mydamn talking whale for My sakes?”

When I looked for a mobile home, this park – I mean community – was not on my list, but I pulled in anyway upon seeing the manicured lawns. They had one new home left. I bought it. If Esmeralda had not removed the curtains and blinds, I would not have thrown them out. If I had not thrown them out, Mrs. M would not have come over to talk to me and offer to be her dog walker – and occasional babysitter if I go out of town, which is a better prospect than a stranger.

Someone at work said I had a guardian angel. Miracles happen all the time; you just need to know how to recognize them when they do.

Another good thing about Mrs. M is that she is the neighborhood busybody. She watches out her window everyday to see what is going on, so I don’t have to buy an alarm system. However, I think she is using my home as a base operation for her spy game because my kitchen blinds, which Esmeralda cannot reach without a trampoline, are always turned up when I return home, indicating she is watching someone. She also said she would use the dog walking money for Bingo. I don’t know. The TV is always tuned to QVC when I return home.

But who am I to question God … Oh yes, I’m Jewish; we always question God.

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