In our house, there live three people — me, my wife, Debra, and our little Chihuahua named Georgie. Yes, our children are grown and have moved out of our house, but we have replaced them with a canine toddler. Those of you who have companion animals know exactly what I mean. Not only do they become part of your heart and your household, they end up pretty much ruling the roost!
Georgie is a Deer Chihuahua and is mainly white but dotted with caramel colored spots as if he stood too close to a driven-through mud puddle. He only weighs a little more than 8 pounds, but don’t let his small stature fool you. He is a part of every situation that arises in our home. Absolutely nothing gets past Georgie!
Like the snoopiest person you have ever met, he roams our home looking for anything out of the ordinary.
To whom it may concern, well, everything concerns Georgie! With his nose held upward with an aristocratic air, he pitter patters throughout our house and yard making his hourly rounds.
Anything out of the ordinary will be immediately reported back to us with a frantic and shrill bark.
Nervous by nature, he is always a little on edge, but he goes absolutely ballistic when the mail arrives. No matter where he happens to be in our house when it comes, he, in a matter of seconds, is transported to our front door. He propels himself as if he has just been launched like a rocket going from 0 to 60 miles an hour in a split second. His brain can’t quite keep up with his legs, so for a second his legs are spinning in place like a cartoon character before he actually takes off. I really expect to see a poof of smoke hanging in the air after he leaves.
The mail that arrives through a slot in our front door and falls onto the floor in our living room might as well be an army of treacherous invaders. As if he was programmed to search and destroy, his mission is to shred the stacks of envelopes, magazines and brochures upon contact. When he is finished and the dust has settled, every invitation, brochure and magazine is left riddled with puncture marks from his teeth. With a fragment of paper still hanging from his tiny mouth, he smiles up at me as if he has done a great job and then, with his toe nails clicking against the hardwood floors, he meanders back to his plump, cozy bed for an afternoon nap. I have told him on more than one occasion to only shred the bills, but apparently the magazines taste better to him!
Speaking of his tastes, he knows exactly the drawer in our kitchen where I keep my cereal. Every morning, he can hear the sound of that drawer opening from wherever he is. As if by magic, I look down and he is standing there with his tail wagging and big brown eyes pleading, waiting patiently for me to toss him a handful of cereal so he can munch. Then, like a shadow, he takes every step I do until I am finished with my cereal. I used to think it was because he loved me, but then I realized he wanted me to save him a little milk in the bottom of the bowl. I set it on the floor, he laps it up, turns away and goes back to his bed without even so much as a thank-you.
In his mind, a Ziploc bag is a wonderful invention. To him, it means “tasty treat.” He knows that distinct sound a Ziploc bag makes when opened and can appear out of nowhere for some of its contents. I can’t tell you the times I have tip-toed into my own kitchen, silently opened the snack drawer, carefully grabbed a Ziploc bag filled with goodies and sneaked to another part of our house to open it. I feel like a thief and more times than not get caught!
Then there’s his own bowl of food that to him definitely doesn’t taste as good as ours does. Because of that, he has certain requirements before he will eat from it. One, it has to be at a certain level in the bowl — not too high and not too low. Two, it has to be spread out evenly across the bowl. Once he has welled out the center while eating, he will sit in front of it, almost in a trance, staring at it as if he is channeling it to level back out. When the dry food doesn’t respond, he proceeds to plan B. He looks around the room to see which one of us is nearest to the bowl and methodically scratches the rug in front of it until we rise from what we’re doing and level it out for him. I have decided that not only is he a person; he is a person my wife and I are here to serve!
So, why do we put up with all of this behavior? Quite simply, he offers us unconditional love. He doesn’t judge or make fun. He is loyal and protective of us and will not hesitate to bite if someone comes near. He provides much-needed and appreciated company on a lonely night. He is a bed-warmer in the winter and a lap dog when you need a friend. That’s right! Georgie is a person to us and he is also a member of our household. He wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he considers it his house. Because he is gracious, he just allows us to live here!
More with Mark
— Check out Mark’s Web site at www.markballard.com for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff and Mark’s 2010 spring tees, prints, cards and his Vidalia onion collectible porcelain plates.
— Travel with Mark to New York City this holiday season. For more details, call (478) 757-6877 and leave your mailing address or e-mail your request for information to email@example.com.
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Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.