Monday, September 17, 2007

My Milkshake Brings My Dog To The Car

We have a tradition in our family. After a visit to the Veterinarian, which is very traumatic for our eight year old cocker spaniel, Rolie, (he trembles pathetically and looks at us with big, sad eyes as if to say, "Please don't leave me here. These people are animals.") we buy him a milkshake. Now the dog doesn't get a whole milkshake. We’re not that indulgent. We share. Apparently a Vet visit is traumatic for all of us. And nothing soothes the nerves like a vanilla shake.

We discovered his love of milkshakes early on. One hot Summer day my husband and I picked up a couple to cool us down. Previously lounging in the back seat, Rolie became suddenly alert and excited, as if waiting patiently for his turn at the straw. Intrigued I held my empty cup out to him and he ever so gently took it from my hand and licked it clean. Note to self, the dog likes milkshakes.

Rolie also loves car rides, except when they end up at the Vet. The other day when my husband was dropping me off at the train station, Rolie decided he wanted to come along. By decided I mean when we let him out to run around in the yard a bit before we left, we had a difficult time getting him back in the house. We called. He wouldn't come. We’d get near him and he stealthily evaded capture. He doesn't normally act like this. (Oh God, I sound like one of those parents who's in denial about their child's aberrant behavior. This doesn't bode well if we ever have to raise a human child.)

I was running late so rather than continue the struggle we took Rolie with us, which I’m sure was his plan all along. That's right. Two adults caved in to a manipulative cocker spaniel. But it's not just any cocker spaniel, it's Rolie. And what Rolie wants, Rolie gets.

The problem is that His Lordship is absolutely adorable. Shiny black coat, soulful eyes, cute nub of a tail. I'm also a sucker for a sad story. His previous "family" abandoned him. We adopted The Old Man (he's eight, with a distinguished ring of grey around his muzzle) since his foster family could not keep him. He survived kennel cough, two ear surgeries that have rendered him partially deaf and he takes medication every other day for his thyroid.

Thinking about what he's been through makes us feel sorry for him and perhaps be a little more lenient than we should. Yup, old fur face has got us tightly wrapped around his well groomed paw. At this rate a kid would walk all over us and make us beg for more.

When my husband returned home from the train station, his route took him past McDonald's, our milkshake purveyor of choice. As the car sped by, Rolie sounded the alarm from the back seat. Our normally quiet and contemplative Spaniel began barking while gazing fixedly at the golden arches as if to say, "Here! Turn here! This is the milkshake place!"

My husband was shocked. We knew His Lordship was smart, but this was creepy; like something straight out of a commercial. "So," I said, "How did Rolie enjoy his milkshake?" "I didn't get him one," my husband said. "What?" I couldn't believe it. "Who are you?" I said. "And what have you done with my husband?"

Part of me was annoyed that Rolie was smart enough in his own way to ask for a milkshake and my husband didn't come across with the goods. A slightly bigger part of me was proud of him for resisting the urge. "It would have set a bad precedent," he said. "Rolie would think it was milkshake time whenever we passed a McDonald's."

Yes, that would be bad. And potentially expensive. It’s already hard to believe that we thought having a dog would be cheaper than a kid. It hasn’t been working out that way. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we had a backbone between us. But who knows perhaps one milkshake denied in the furry face of adorable brilliance means there’s hope. But to be honest, I’m a little worried about even writing this, since the evidence suggests that Rolie can read.

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