Monday, March 27, 2006

Man's Best Friend

I wanna talk about my dog.

I know, I know -- I've become one of those horrible bloggers who post pictures of their pets and regale you with stories about how doggone cute and funny they are, how they can be soooo fickle or playful, or how they like chasing squirrels, how they're just like a person, or some such nonsense. Blah blah blah.

Anyway, indulge me for just a second here. This is a bit of a confessional. I want to tell you how I really had no idea I cared so much about my dog until the damn thing went and got herself injured.

Mrs. Chase and I have two dogs, a Boston terrier named Maybellene and a Shih Tzu named Nadine. At any rate, the senior dog is Maybellene, who we got a little more than two years ago after I had become charmed by my oldest sister's Boston terrier (who, sadly, ascended to doggie heaven last year). After combing the region for Boston breeders, we finally ventured to far southeastern Oklahoma, where we purchased Maybellene from a one-legged veteran who lived in a mobile home with his wife and whose prized possession was a framed black-and-white photograph of George W. and Jeb Bush back when they were children with gaping silver spoons shoved down their gullets.

But I digress.

We brought Maybellene the puppy (pictured below) home. Both the wife and I were smitten by the canine, who promptly displayed all the Boston terrier traits I had found so oddly endearing -- bulging eyes that resembled Marty Feldman after a crank binge, the single-minded obsession for tug o' war and fetch, the wall-shaking snoring, the room-clearing flatulence I rightly figured would help mask my my own indiscretions.

As time wore on, however, Maybellene made it clear that I was not her favorite McInerney. While she tolerated me well enough, and even deigned to play fetch with me, she absolutely slobbered herself silly over Mrs. Chase. Maybe the dog was struck by Mrs. Chase's mellifluous voice, or that she let the animal hang out on the sofa -- or maybe it was just that, truth be told, the wife is just a better person. Whatever the reason, Maybellene gravitated toward Mrs. Chase, following her everywhere like some wet-nosed stalker.

And I began to have hard feelings about it. Here it was that getting a Boston terrier had been my idea, and here I was being shut out of the family dynamic. I became the vehicle for Maybellene to receive food in the morning. I became the poor bastard whose spot on the couch she would steal the moment I got up to go to the kitchen or bathroom.

In the meantime, Mrs. Chase had gotten pregnant and decided -- ostensibly in some hormonally imbalanced spasm of good intentions -- that we needed a second dog to keep Maybellene company once the baby arrived.

The rationale was partly right. With the birth of our daughter, the lovely Apple Rosebud McInerney, we followed the experience of so many new parents by neglecting the pet. But now we had two dogs to be irritants. It didn't take long for the luster to wear off with two little canines whose primary contributions to the household included shedding on the furniture. shredding dirty diapers and shitting in the yard.

A few weeks ago, Maybellene underwent emergency surgery due to a scratched eyeball -- apparently a common danger for a breed of dog with big, bulbous eyes that look like they were rejected by Ren and Stimpy animators for being too outlandish. Following the surgery, the veterinarian provided the wife and me with 10 types of eyedrops and pills to medicate Maybellene every two hours, around the clock. In addition, the dog was fitted with one of those Elizabethan collars that give her a sort of "Flying Nun" flair.

Despite a costly surgery, the animal doc provided no guarantees. Even with 24/7 medical treatment, she explained, there was no assurance about saving Maybellene's right eye, which now looked suspiciously like a purple marble. To further complicate matters, the dog -- who's always been a bit of a pansy -- struggled mightily every time we tried to administer the eyedrops. The more she struggled, the more pressure she placed on the bad eye, thereby increasing the chances of rupturing it. I wasn't thrilled -- understandably, I think -- with the prospect of having an itinerant dog eye bursting all over my undershirt during some 2 a.m. therapy session. It only took one sleepless night of struggling with Maybellene until I was ready to take out the eye myself. Surely a dog is OK with a single eye, I reasoned. It's not like they read or anything.

Granted, I've never been much of a pet person. Although I was raised in a household that always had a family dog, invariably young Chase would get attached to the mutt just long enough for my mom to give the dog to the maid (yes, I grew up in a household that could afford maids, lucky me). And a few weeks later, the maid invariably would reveal that the aforementioned mutt had been run over in traffic. For years I assumed our maids lived along Interstate 35.

But I digress again. The point is that the prospect of doping up Maybellene every two hours seemed to be not only an unbelievable hassle, but almost absurd. With a wife and a baby and a plasma-screen TV, how in God's name could I be expected to help care for a dog who primarily knew me as her master's husband?

That was nearly two weeks ago. In that time, the purple marble eyeball has improved steadily, allowing us to reduce the rounds of eyedrops and pills (for the dog, that is -- we're still popping pills like crazy). And while Maybellene won't be able see much in her right eye, it will at least offer enough peripheral vision to keep her from walking into walls.

And I have come to the grudging realization that, sombitch, I really do love that dog.

There is something touching about a mutt's unwavering allegiance and trust. She shakes each time I give her the medicine, but damned if she doesn't ultimately oblige. She isn't crazy about the E-collar, either, but damned if she doesn't accept it in stride. Hell, what can I say? She's a good dog. It's that simple.

And when she exhibits such loyalty, I guess I had better rise to the occasion, too.


At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All your girls are luck to have you. Reesha

At 5:56 PM, Blogger LilRed said...

You should never feel badly about pet blogging. Animals kick ass.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Brit said...

I agree. My blog features an entire category devoted to my Boston. Also, that third photo, the one where she's sleeping, is adoooooorable.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But now you'll have to dog updates and shit.

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Scribe said...

Thanks a lot, Chase.

Now you have me fretting about the possibility that I may face a similar situation in my little one's future. I too have a breed with big, bulbous eyes -- my beloved pug, Sam. I can't imagine going through all that with him. I love him dearly, but I don't think he or I have the patience to go through all that -- but I'd try for his benefit.

And those collars... our older dog, a Lhasa Apso, has a bad habit of obsessively licking his paws until they are raw. On occasion, we have to fit him with one of those collars. He always looks so miserable wearing it. The first time we put it on him, the whole family laughed hysterically because he looked like a roaming satellite dish.

Anyway, thanks for sharing the story (I think). I'll be sure to call you when I can't sleep tonight worrying about the future of my pug's bulbous eyes.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

Ahh, Scribe - If only those collars WERE roaming satellite dishes! Now, that would be sweet!

Don't fret too much about the bulbous eyes, though. Most Boston owners I know haven't had to deal with this. I think Maybellene was doomed by the Shih Tzu, which has an odd and gross habit of licking the Boston terrier's eyeball for minutes on end. I suspect that might have led to the laceration.

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Greta McInerney-Spinoza said...

I tried commenting on your post last night, but MY boston was hogging the computer. I'm not so sure dogs can't read. MY boston is also pretty good handling the tv remote control. Sadly, she never changes to a channel I want to watch.

As to how Maybellene injured her eye, it confirms something about Bostons I have long thought. First, I have to clarify that I can't imagine a more wonderful breed, maybe because they're so eccentric. My present Boston isn't my first. I was previously owned by the dog that inspired Chase to get a Boston for himself. But Chase, the doggy eye problem proves that Bostons have absolutely no instinct for survival. But then, why should they, they have people to serve their every need.


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