I thought dogs were bigger…
By Amy Lane
I may have mentioned my dog Chiquita in Love Bytes in this blog tour, and I also may have mentioned that she topped out at over 100 lbs. Of course, some of that was unhealthy weight, because that dog would eat anything—whether we fed it to her or not. One of the most harrowing dog experiences I’ve ever had was the day I discovered what pancreatitis was, and its destructive power of stench and Ragnarok when wreaked by a 100 lb. dog.
But in addition to being overweight, Chiquita was just big. She was part Rottweiler and part What-weiler, and her body and frame were intended to be, well, big.
My parents believe in big dogs.
My parents are Lab people. My father has been a black or gold Labrador owner for over forty years. One of my daughter’s first encounters with a dog was when my parents’ 100 lb. lab mix, Jake, knocked her eight feet away from her shoes. (Not a good moment, that. I’ve never seen a toddler’s eyes that big.)
My stepmom recently had a “Fourth of July for Dogs” over at her house. Every dog there—except mine—was a big, 60 lb.-+ animal.
My relatively young little dogs just did not fit in.
And I actually caught some family flack for my little dogs when I first decided I wanted them.
Johnnie, the first small dog is fifteen pounds now—but he was less than ten for his first year and a half. When I went to adopt Johnnie, he was in—for him—the ideal environment. It was a small veterinary practice run by women just like me.
Seriously—middle-aged, soft, squishy women with big hearts and sweet voices, it was a rescue dog’s haven.
And Johnnie thought I was everything he could possibly want in a dog owner, and my kids? Respectful, kind children, who liked to play and pet and cuddle—they were the best.
And then I took him home, and he discovered, “the catch”.
Or rather, the catches.
Two of them.
Specifically my husband and my son.
There is a rather famous YouTube Video—Sad Dog Diaries—in which dogs profess fear of “men with hats and beards”. Alas, my husband and my oldest son are both.
My husband has a very deep voice. When our kids were babies he-at least once—scared the little goobers by laughing unexpectedly. He has a beard, a deep voice, and once a day he comes home and calls for me or the kids.
Oh my God, he’s terrifying.
My oldest son is 6’5” tall—and he usually sports a giant bushy beard (which he grew at 16, with no effort at all.) He has big feet, a big voice and oh my God the beard—save us all!!!
My poor dog. There he’d be, going about his day with me—walkies, sleepies, run away from the cat, see the kids off to school and then see them back. It was a dog’s life (Please link to the blog tour entry called Dog’s Life) of hedonism and bliss—
Right up until one of the boys walked in.
It was always so unexpected. My husband would bustle in and the dog—who had been happily asleep in my cleavage while I worked—would slither out and run to the corner to pee like a bad, bad boy. My son would come out of his room and go, “Hey mom!” and Johnnie would spaz out from a raw sleep and run around the house, barking his head off. If they were sitting around, watching television, and all was peaceful in the world, the dog would think they were the most awesome people ever, but throw in the teensiest moment of surprise?
He’d be the little spazzy puppy that confirmed the small-dog-hater’s most cherished prejudices of the breed.
My dad, being my dad, capitalized on this.
One week when I was gone (because I yell at my father for things like this) my dad was picking my husband up so they could join my stepmom and the kids at the fair. Mate was trying to squeeze a quick walk in with the dog before my dad arrived, so he had just stepped out of the house with the dog on a leash, not knowing that my dad had already parked.
My dad saw the tiny dog on the end of the leash—my dad with the hat and the beard and the sunglasses who stands 6’5” tall saw the tiny dog on the end of the leash—and shouted, “Hey, Johnnie, are you going to cower and pee?” (Yeah, family. Sometimes they’re awesome and sometimes they’re a bag of dicks, I don’t know what to tell you.)
Johnnie took off, jerking the leash out of my husband’s hand and running that desperate, two pawed scamper and hop that small dogs use when they are running the hell away.
My dad burst out laughing—which scared Johnnie further and my husband?
Well, he knew if he had to tell me my dog ran away or got hit by a car or abducted by aliens when he’d been holding the leash, his life and his guilt trip would be unpleasant to say the least. (Plus, he obviously likes the little goober if he was taking him for a walk.)
Mate took off running while my dad cracked up, and the dog disappeared around the corner, the plastic handle of the leash clattering behind him as he ran.
Obviously he caught the dog and they made it back home, but Mate was scarred by the event to the extent that he makes me hold the dog on walks to this day.
And when he talks about the incident two years later, he says, “Okay—I know it’s terrible, and if it had ended badly this wouldn’t be funny at all… but I’ll forever remember his front paws digging in and his back paws catching up and the damned leash handle going ‘brap brap brap brap’ behind him as he rounded the corner.”
I have to concede. Since the dog is okay, that was a little funny.
But I am still very relieved that Johnnie has grown a backbone as he’s matured. My dad no longer terrifies him, my son has become his favorite person, and my husband is his favorite pillow during television.
I think, in part, this has to do with getting a dog that’s even smaller than Johnnie.
I have to admit, that once we got Geoffie—all 2 ½ pounds of her—and Johnnie realized that she was another fur-person, his protective instincts kicked in. It didn’t matter that Geoffie felt like she was okay and didn’t need a keeper, Johnnie was the big dog and it was his job to keep her safe!
And pretty much, that was his rebirth, as it was, from Courage the Cowardly Dog to the slightly timid but mostly staunch and protective buddy we have now.
And I think that’s pretty awesome.
In Freckles, which is out from Riptide this fall, Carter Embree is a little like Johnnie might have been as a people. He’s not brave, he’s not original, and the things that scare people—losing their jobs, standing out from the crowd, doing the wrong thing, never finding love—these things scare Carter too. But once he becomes Freckles’s protector, he changes.
At first it’s subtle—he talks to Sandy, he realizes his past behavior was maybe not so brave, he tries not to let his job take over his life.
But at the end, he actually stands up to the scary “man with a hat and a beard” in his life, and then he walks away.
It’s funny, what both man and beast will do, for the love of a tiny dog.
Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.
Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.
But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!
He can be the owner of a small dog.
About Amy Lane:
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
Connect with Amy:
- Website: greenshill.com
- Blog: writerslane.blogspot.com
- Twitter: @amymaclane
- Facebook group: Amy Lane Anonymous
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/amymaclane
To celebrate the release of Freckles, one lucky winner will receive Freckles in ebook and another ebook of their choice from Amy’s backlist!
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