Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - Fellow Travelers - 1/20/08

I have traveled extensively in my life, but sadly, mostly alone. This is partly by choice and partly because I am such a bastard that few people enjoy my company for long enough to endure any kind of extensive trip. But, this writing will be about a companion that doesn’t care that I am an asshole. She loves unconditionally.

In December of 2000, I escaped the frozen wasteland of central Wyoming and moved to Myrtle Beach, SC. I put everything I had in storage and set off in my new SUV, with my traveling companion, Suzy. Suzy was, and is, a Dachshund. As a puppy the size of your hand, I gave her to a friend’s daughter for Easter in about 1996. Suzy was re-gifted to me just prior to my trip. Situations required the family to move into a rental property that would not accept pets.

So Suzy and I departed on the 2,000-mile adventure. I hadn’t gotten out of the driveway before I realized that this journey was going to be interesting. I had always known that Suzy suffered from OCD. If you think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is only a human condition, you have never spent much time in the company of a canine, or at least this one.

The first compulsion that I observed with Suzy was her obsession with chasing a ball. From the time she was a tiny puppy she loved fetching a ball. No one taught her to fetch, she just figured out that if she brought it back you were inclined to throw it again. She never tired of it. She would chase as long as you would throw. She would not even stop to relieve herself, rather let it fly while she was at full speed. When you wanted to stop the game, you had to hide the ball. I mean HIDE the ball. If she saw where you put it, she would either engineer a way to get at it or look at the spot in which she believed it to be and whine until she drove you completely mad. If you just stopped throwing it, she would move the ball closer and closer to you with her nose. That failing, it would soon be on your foot or in your lap. There was no ignoring her and hoping she would lose interest. She NEVER lost interest.

If you uttered the word “ball”, even under your breath, her ears would perk up and she would begin to dance in anticipation of chasing her beloved ball. Even the words “mall”, “hall”, “doll” or anything else with an “all” sound, elicited the same manic response. Tennis balls were her favorite, though I believe she would have tried to retrieve a bowling ball. If you threw more than one ball, she would make every attempt at bringing them all back, driving herself mad with indecision.

Once, I took her to the beach to chase balls and on the way home I stopped to get gas. I hadn’t realized that one of the balls had gotten lodged between the back seat and the door. In the length of time it took me to pump the gas and buy a drink, she had chewed my leather seat trying to retrieve the ball. She normally did not chew, but when it came to “ball” she was unbridled.

Okay, back to the trip. The new obsession that Suzy exhibited, and would continue to exhibit for the next 1,999.9 miles was that she required that I pet her at all times. I didn’t really have to make a stroking motion; rather my right hand must constantly rest on her. Any attempt to remove that hand resulted in her repositioning it with her nose. Should I try to put both hands on the steering wheel, she would crawl onto my lap and whine. Not once, while the vehicle was in motion, did she sleep. I tried once to put her in the back seat but it became obvious that was not acceptable to her and since she has toes like a badger, I again feared for my leather.

We made the trip without incident, though my right arm slept for most of the journey.

When we arrived in Myrtle Beach, my plan was to leave her with my son Josh and his wife Tia until I settled in but she bonded with my daughter-in-law and has been her dog ever since.

Suzy is now about 11, very old for a Dachshund, due to their fragile back and hips. She is grossly overweight (Suzy not Tia) and her ball chasing days are about over.

She coexists with their 100+ pound black Labrador, Bob, but it was obvious from day one who was boss. She has terrorized Bob for seven years now. Suzy has no idea that she is only a foot tall. She fears no dog. She is the alpha dog.

A cat once beat the crap out of her, but that is another story.

Bob loves Suzy. Before she arrived he had terrible seperation anxiety whenever he was left alone. Suzy's presence calmed him. Suzy pretends to hate Bob, but when no one is looking she will play with him. But she will not share her bone, her food, her attention, or her place on the couch.

Suzy does not really like children. They move at her too quickly and are a bit rough for her liking. Suzy is a gentle creature. She does not bite them, but she will avoid them and if they continue to pursue her she will growl and show her teeth, maybe even a little warning snap. This is my grandson Carson getting into Suzy's personal space. She is less than pleased.

Remarkably, the only children she tolerates, and even seeks out, are two young autistic boys that are neighbors of Josh and Tia. She is pictured here with one of them.

The other photo is of Suzy and Bob waking my son, Josh, on his birthday.

Suzy is now, pretty much of a couch potato and as you can see, still enjoys being stroked. Don’t we all.


Anonymous said...

What more could you want..... a traveling companion that doesn't tell you you're going the wrong way, wants to be petted.... agrees with all the places you want to stop... and likes sports.... you know she does cuz she chased balls!!

Great story!

Laini Taylor said...

Oh, I love dog stories! What a cutie! We had dachsunds when I was a kid. They were both named Blitzkrieg -- my dad's idea. As for the OCD, I have never had a ball-addicted dog myself, but my sister's German shepherd is just like Suzy. Single-minded. Will NEVER tire of the ball. So funny! I love dogs! Great story.

gautami tripathy said...

I find this a very beautiful post. The photographs speak out.


GreenishLady said...

I really enjoyed meeting Suzy. She has that BIG small-dog personality that my own little terrier used to display.

Redness said...

Man's best friend and the best girlfriend any bloke might want ... what a doll she is! Another gorgeous piece from you yet again, Thank YOU!

myrtle beached whale said...

Suzy has no idea she is a dog. No one ever told her. She pouts like a human if you upset her. She will lie down with her back to you and will not respond to voice or food. She can maintain this pout for hours until she receives a sufficient apology. It is unfair that dogs have such a short life but lawyers seem to live forever.

Jennifer Hicks said...

traveling with unconditional love and total dependence, what could be better!

raymond pert said...

You've probably figured out that all my drives from Eugene to Kellogg are with my English Springer Spaniel, Snug. He's a different kind of companion than Suzy. He rests and sleeps the whole trip. He's great company on the road. It's hard to explain. My wife's Corgis are ball obsessed. Their obsession sounds a lot like Suzy's. Your post really captures the dogocity of dogs...I like what you said in your comment: they don't know they are dogs. They just are. Sometimes I think they are very lucky to have no concerns about the future or worries about wars and stock markets and performance enhancing drugs in baseball.

myrtle beached whale said...

RP: You are wrong. Suzy is very disappointed that all of baseball's records are now tainted. And I am certain that she would never chase a ball that Barry Bonds hit. She is not interested in politics but she does tends to like Hillary. I think they may be related.

Herb Urban said...

What more can you ask for than a slobbering companion who will love you unconditionally? Fun read as always.

myrtle beached whale said...

Actually, Suzy didn't seem to mind the slobbering that much.

Tammy said...

Dogs love us unconditionally indeed! I grew up with a black and tan doxi that loved his ball and was not fond of kids either. Delightful post!

Anonymous said...

You always seem to come with a new story to amaze me. I loved reading it. She is probably the only female who wouldn't bitch at you to STOP and ASK for directions.

Lucy said...

This is such a sweet post Rick.. Not at all one written by someone known as a 'bastard'. Suzy is a great dog and I just loved her story. Letting her stay with Josh and Tia- another NON-bastard move!
( You know what they say about 'great minds!'... check out my post!)
(seinfeld, dogs, humor.... hmmm I think we are from the same mold!)

Go Figure said...

I don't know, but I guess I have to agree with Lucy...again...on that 'bastard' comment. I could think of a few colorful comments to throw your way, but that wouldn't be one! By the way, I like the "look" in the first photo. Wish I could get hair and stach to grow back in some color other than white. Don't quite understand why that happens.

myrtle beached whale said...


I was trying to bait you with my Lawyer comment but you still gave me a warm fuzzy. I am humbled. I can name a dozen women who would debate you and Lucy on my status as a bastard.

Shari said...

Very interesting and entertaining. I find animal behavior fascinating. Your Suzy sounds like she knows how to run the show.

giggles said...

I think my old dog Benji was ocd too! He could smell the hidden toys. I hid one in the drawer under my bed, under clothes. He stood there for an hour whining until I found it and relieved both our frustration!

My house has been dogless two years in June, first time in 33 years. Someone in this house wants a dachshund, but after hearing about Suzie,I'm rethinking it. As much as I adore dogs, and love their antics, you have reminded me about all the nagging they can do! Great story as usual!
I think Suzie's had an amazing life, with loads of love!

Keep those stories coming! Adored the pictures too!

Hugs Giggles

La La said...

Great story telling. Wonderful pictures. Awesome dog.

susan said...

Great story and well written. Really like your style of writing: personal but open enough that I didn't feel like an outsider. And suzy- who would n't like to be her? lol

MarmiteToasty said...

Now that is one cute fat little sausage dog :), I would wrap him up in a baguette and nibble his ears he is soooooooo cute :)....

I'd love a dog, but a medium size shaggy dog, ya know, one where ya cant tell which end is which lol.... :) actually I would just love a dog, but it would probably not get on with Janet and Mabel and like I aint got enough to bloody do...... maybe when me lads had left home and I need someone to snuggle up to on those long lonely winter days :)

I would love to just pack up and go on a long trip..... sigh


Anonymous said...

This is your best post yet! I've grown to love Suz too. What a personality!! Thanks for the great post!!

forgetfulone said...

I absolutely love the photo of her looking up at the camera. What a sweet "fellow traveller." I enjoyed your post!

Heather Kathleen said...

shakespeare was a hack. probably due to the fact his undies were riding up.
wiener dogs are neurotic. i too, suffer from ocd. obsessive compulsive dachshund.
your blog says your a "bastard" and

Inland Empire Girl said...

You are right... great minds work alike. I am so glad to see she is still providing joy to everyone in the family.
If you get a chance to read them... we did our sibling assignment on Silver King school this week on RP SVG and my blog. You would have probably had a few more memories to add. I only wish I would have had a picture of it when everyone stood outside on the steps for the class pictures. Mom has them all. I had to look at the sad ones from last week when the roof collaped.