August 13, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
My parents adopted a dog.
Now, a bit of history: We’ve always owned dogs. And cats. And fish and birds and hamsters and…you get the picture. Let’s just say that as a joke we referred to it as “The Family Zoo” because we owned dozens of animals (at once) and had seven children, not to mention several foster babies, all in a three-four bedroom twin with a postage stamp for a backyard. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that my parents’ house could literally fit inside my first floor and my house isn’t THAT big. The first floor of their home had a small living room (crammed wall-to-wall with furniture and crud) a bathroom and a kitchen with an eating area. Note I did NOT say eat-in kitchen. I still get claustrophobic when I visit.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, the dog. Since my parents have always been on a limited budget (because they totally suck with money) they’ve never bought an animal in their lives. They have never gone to a breeder or pet store an purchased an animal, save the fish and one hamster we got as kids. The rest were given to us, loaned to us, adopted out to us or found their way to us by dumb luck. It’s like St. Francis of Assisi (the animal lover, for the non-Christians) mixed with Oliver the Musical all rolled into one. Every sperm is sacred, yo.
Our last dog, Quincy, was adopted when I was in high school. A week before a beloved dog (not trained by us) wandered out of the yard, ate something on the street and was consequently hit by a drunk driver on a stolen motorcycle with a suspended license. On Easter Sunday as we said grace. Yeah, that sucked. My parents vowed they would no longer have dogs. A week later Quincy, a shih-tzu/cocker spaniel mix, came home. He slept on our beds, licked our faces, barked at the mailman (who refused to leave our mail when he was out) and ate fruit and vegetables. He was all of fifteen pounds at most. Since he was between four and five when adopted and my parents had no idea of his true age we figured he’d live ten years at most. WRONG. He died about four years ago, having lived to nearly twenty. Once again the ‘rents swore that another dog would never enter their home. A few months later a completely psychotic rat terrier/Italian greyhound mix named Ping Pong. He chewed his way through four months before my parents decided they just didn’t have the energy to deal with him. I mean, they are in their sixties and believe that the only exercise one needs is the cardio you get from walking down the front steps and into the car. So Ping Pong was sent back to the shelter, whereupon my parents were blacklisted for all eternity at the SPCA. You can’t bring a dog back, dawg. They won’t let you adopt again. Kinda like if you sell Mary Kay and decide to get out of it, you ain’t getting back in (I learned that from my sister!). My parents pleaded with them to no avail. Of course, this is a good thing, y’all. My parents LOVE animals. They love them to death. They overfeed them, occasionally walk them and do take them to the vet. They just, well, don’t exercise or train them much. And by that I mean at all. What they really need is a robotic pet that doesn’t need to wee or walk. It can just sit on their laps, watch The Price is Right with my dad and lick my mom’s ice cream spoon (that she eats for breakfast, I kid you not).
Yesterday morning Dad calls. They are due for dinner in a few hours. He wants to know if he can bring Cujo with him. Cujo? Who the heck is Cujo? You mean, like the VICIOUS AND RABID DOG FROM THE STEPHEN KING BOOK/MOVIE? Hella no!
Let’s just say that Dad told me the story about my bro’s hockey bud (all three brothers play on a men’s league, they all played in high school) who had six dogs, had to get rid of two due to a township ordinance or other. Plus, there was one dog (Cujo) who was the doormat, the one that the other dogs muscled around. This guy trained them nicely (my brothers could vouch for the fact that they were well-loved animals) but the German shepherds and Akitas and Huskies were beating the tar out of Cujo. Poor, poor Cujo. You know, THE VICIOUS ATTACK DOG? Yeah, I felt sorry for him, too. N.O.T. The hockey-friend-guy had to find a new home for one or two of them, he picked Cujo. Not vicious enough, I s’pose. One thing led to another, my brother brought Cujo to meet my parents, Cujo never left. The best part? Cujo is trained! Cujo doesn’t need four-mile walks each day! This is the VICIOUS ATTACK DOG named Cujo that my parents are now the proud owners of:
Yeah, he’s pretty vicious looking. He sat there during dinner and slept or sniffed the air the whole time. That is some mean-dog behavior, y’all. Meet Cujo. Nine pounds, four years old and a Yorkie/Cairn/Heinz 57 mix.I’m scared just looking at him.
He didn’t make a peep the whole time (three hours! A record, Crissie!) they were there for dinner. He barely ventured out of the room. He sat when told, went outside to the bathroom when told and settled in someone’s lap the rest of the time. The perfect animal for my parents. And guess who gets to watch him for a week when the ‘rents go on vacation next month? Did you say me? Because if you did, you’d win a big prize. I dunno what the prize would be, but it would be really neat, like a major award. Like, Fragile (must be Italian). Oh heck, I’m in a benevolent mood. Here’s your prize: