Once, long ago, we got to go somewhere. I don’t even remember where, now; what I remember is making a list for our friends who would be dog and house sitting that was longer and more comprehensive than any I would have dreamed of getting up for actual child babysitters. This is the list they found when they arrived. They have Dachshunds too, so they weren’t too surprised.
Dear C—– and M—–,
The Weiners didn’t want you taking up the reins of their care and feeding without giving you a comprehensive (their word) list from which to work. I felt it was unnecessary, but I was overruled 5 to 1 in a show of teeth. (Dogocracy.) They felt it would just be easier on everyone if they didn’t have to constantly rouse themselves to make their wishes known the entire weekend. Therefore, The List:
1. Fritz is Top Dog, and expects to be treated as such. He gets First Cookie, Best Blanket, First Out The Door, and Any Toy He Wants. (That’s all he feels you need to know. Oh, and he may play tug -of -war with you if you’re nice. He NEVER fetches, so he would like you to please not confuse “bringing you a toy” with any action a craven, butt-kissing Retreiver may perform.)
2. Weiners eat twice a day. That’s upon arising and 4 0’clock, plus anytime they walk around with their guts sucked in looking pathetic and scrawny. Fritz is incapable of looking pathetic or scrawny, so he waits. On a good day, the 4 UnderWeiners will get two bites before Fritz plods in and silently indicates they should all go now. This little arrangement means food is actually available 24/7.
3. Dogs get no People Food, EVER. Exceptions are the breakfast oatmeal pan, the lunch sandwich crusts, and the dinnertime plates. Plus whatever else they want.
4. Franny is a bitch, and she wants you never to forget it. At bedtime she occupies any part of the couch Fritz is not occupying. The 3 under-underWeiners are behind bars in the kitchen. She requires one of the pluffier (her word) fur blankets for her nest. She refuses to lower herself to fight for food or toys or cookies: you may bring them to her. She will indicate her needs with a delicate, but insistant low-pitched grrr/whine. Also you will be fixated with The Look. It’s like being hypnotised. Don’t fight it.
5. All dogs go out to the backyard toilet just before retiring for the night. Outdoor lights are by the bedroom back door, and the window wall next to the tv. Watch for Mercedes, she’ll be the long black Weiner dragging herself across the floor for several minutes before you give up standing there with snow and ice blowing in on you and grab her up. As soon as you do this, she will turn into something resembling a melting puppy slinky and you will be compelled to smother her with kisses and forgive her. Then she’ll go out. Please count dogs as they come in, since Mercedes believes that whatever worked going out will work coming in. After holding the door open and dying a slow freezing death, you’ll go out and get her. She will smother you with kisses. You will feel warm and fuzzy inside, even though your pajamas are dripping wet and your bare feet feel like solid blocks of ice. Mercedes is the Under-under-under-under-dog, or Under- to- the -4th, for short. She gets whatever she can.
6. Let me paint you a picure. It is 5 am. You are snuggled under the down comforter, feeling the warm glow of last night’s wine-and-whatever, the early morning dawn light gently urging you awake, a songbird beginning his first-light serenade. You glance at the clock. Uhmmmm. Still early. You turn over and plump the down-filled pillow under your cheek, toe your sleeping husband’s foot, and begin the soft slide back to unfinished dreams….when your ear picks up a distrubing sound. It’s a small, barely noticeable, but clearly aggrieved…weiner- whine. You take a harder look at the digital clock. Just to save you some time, I will tell you that by the time that toneless, never-ending, one syallable, Franny weinerwhine destroys your pleasant dream, turns the loft and down -covered bed into a hothouse of claustrophobia, the wine into a raging hangover and your husband into the spouse from hell, just get up and let the little fuckers OUT.
7. Newspapers are to be spread on the kitchen floor next to the door, in case somebody can’t wait for your education to be complete. This does not necessarily mean you won’t step in something unpleasant, but you’ll blame them, not yourself. By this time, maintaining self esteem will be a big priority in your` life. When the dogs return from their morning walkabout, they will expect a cookie. This is a reward for moving their bowels, and no, I cannot explain the thinking here. Cookies are on top of the refrigerator. For obvious reasons. Which brings us to …
8. Mercedes. Mercedes is not a purebred Weiner, because her grandmother mated with a monkey. I have come to this conclusion after watching her climb ladders, stacked firewood, funiture, fences, hay bales, and, most recently, our narrow and steep loft stairs. This is why I keep the stairs pulled up, and when I’m up here, a gate is laid across the bottom steps. Failing that, you’ll hear a gentle clomping, and you’ll look down to see her standing under the hanging pans, which is where she stops to see if you’ll notice she’s on her way up, and where you’ll prepare your food all day, lucky you. Occasionally she will make it all the way to the 3rd stair from the top. It’s not that she can’t get to the very top and leap joyfully onto the bed, but it makes her feel important when your heart stops and you inch slowly down the stairs to pluck her from certain death or paralysis and….smother her with kisses and scold and hold her to your maternal breast. Someone will notice this bestowing of Special People Love, and that someone is…
9. Izzy. Little Izzy is underdog-to-the-2nd, and he is always watching to see who is getting Special People Love when he isn’t. Consequently, his mission in life is to plant his tongue in every orifice of your unprotected face, under the misguided assumption you enjoy this behavior. Occasionally he loses his mind and picks a fight with Fritz, who just rolls over him like a German Panzer division with all canons exploding, unless a human is stupid enough to get in the way. In that case, Izzy thinks he’s actually part of a team of attack dogs, and turns into the Dingo Dog from Hell. On calm days, Izzy just pisses on everything he can find that reminds him of Fritz, which is every upright surface and every inch of floor. You will have noticed the lack of wall- to -wall carpeting. Izzy spends a lot of time behind bars. He also gets yelled at alot since we can all read Weiner minds by now, so he also spends a lot of time doing u-turns. It’s pretty funny to watch.
10. And finally, a word about Mokie. Mokie is the only girl Fritz ever loved. It’s possible it’s because she has curly long hair in an arresting variety of colors, come hither looks, gives great kisses, and sucks up to him beautifully, but that never works in the real world, so it must be she reminds him of his first love, his teddy bear. Whatever. Because of Fritz’s attentions, Mokie feels she should be moving up in the ranks, from Underdog-to-the-3rd, to Underdog, period. She generally makes her move around the food dish, but Izzy will not put up with it, Franny knows she can wait for room service, and Mercedes is too frightened of her to eat in the same room. So she’s stuck where she is, and has developed other talents to compensate, like being the only Weiner who fetches and let’s her feet touch the ground on rainy days.