66: Small Dog, Big Attitude

66: Small Dog, Big Attitude

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Small Dog, Big Attitude

Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.

~Quentin Tarantino

She came for a visit, a rather long visit. Her family took a posting in the Middle East and, after a little coaxing, I offered to mind Peanut for the year they would be gone. I had some rather pointed concerns as to how she would fit in, since I had a Great Pyrenees and Peanut was a longhaired Dachshund. It was truly a Mutt and Jeff story in the making.

When Peanut arrived at the house the children were all over her. She lapped it up, rolling over so her long expanse of belly could be rubbed and rubbed. Then the questions started.

“Why are her legs so short?”

“Why is her nose so long?”

“Why doesn’t she trip over her ears?”

Being a writer, I offered a creative answer. “Well, you see when The Creator made the world he had an odd assortment of bits and pieces left over. He had a long tail from the monkey bin, a long snout from the aardvark drawer, a body from the hound pile and four legs from the tortoise shelf. Not being a wasteful type, he stuck them all together. What an odd-looking animal he had. The Creator sat back and shook his head, knowing that it would be too unkind to leave this creature as it was, made out of bits and pieces, none that seemed to belong to each other. After some careful reflection he remembered he had some beautiful long hairy ears and large soulful eyes. He added those and stretched the red-brown hair over the rest of the body, lengthened the tail a bit, and decided that would have to do.” The children thought it was a great story and accepted this funny little furry gal without reservation. Peanut, too, accepted us and her temporary home.

What I soon learned is that The Creator had also installed attitude—big attitude. The first inkling I had that this sawed-off furry wiener dog was unaware that she had any limits was when she took one look at P2, our white mountain of a Pyrenees, and promptly made P2 aware who was boss—yep, Peanut. In that small bundle of fur dwelt the mind of a Great Dane, a large Great Dane. P2 was not the only one who came under her command—Peanut was also queen of the barnyard and my horse Missy.

Peanut was tireless, and unlike most dogs, seldom slept during the day. There were far too many things to do and she would miss none of them. Simply watching her brought me many smiles, mainly because her stature was so comical and she undertook each task with such determination. She was true to her breed and hunted the fields and meadows as she was bred to do. I would watch her lead the great white beast on many an exploration. P2 would return exhausted and plop down on the veranda for a long doze but Peanut would bounce into the house, take a long drink of water, and be ready for the next adventure.

When Peanut’s family decided to extend their tour abroad, Peanut became a permanent member of our household. We have many family stories about her adventures, successful and not. She tirelessly followed the tractor as the fields were plowed and she chased rabbits and squirrels, with her ears flying behind her. She would challenge any usurper to her domain, resulting in several mishaps. She was sprayed on several occasions by visiting skunks, but the most dramatic incident was when she was ripped open by a raccoon. Her belly required fifty stitches and a lot of care.

She mastered climbing the stairs quite easily but greater heights were difficult. She gauged the distance she needed for lift-off to mount the sofa; however, when she leapt to get on the car seat she missed and twisted her back. Her hindquarters were paralyzed. I was told to put her down, but I have attitude too, so we both struggled to mend her. She let me hold her bottom up while she did her duty outside. She tolerated my regular massaging and loving care. It took two months of therapy from me, and then she healed and resumed her dominant role.

Peanut definitely had enough attitude to take on the whole world. However, she also had a temper. She had little tolerance for anything that was not to her liking and she was quick to make you aware of it. She would turn her back on you and walk away from food she didn’t like. She would chase the cats off the couch, scolding them sharply should they be in her preferred spot. She refused to take her medicine when she was under the weather, and she let you know her displeasure with a low growl. This brings me to one of my favorite Peanut stories.

My mother lived next door. Shortly after mid-afternoon one day, my phone rang.

“What did you do to Peanut?”

“Why?” I asked my mother.

“She’s really mad at you.”

“What do you mean—she’s mad?”

“She’s over here complaining like crazy.”

“What?”

Laughter exploded through the telephone. “You have to come over and see this. She’s on my deck pacing back and forth stomping, and I mean stomping her little feet, mad as can be. If she could speak, she’d tell me that she has been badly done by and the only person she knew to tell her woes was me. Whatever did you do to her?”

Now I’m laughing. “I gave her a bath.”

I’m sure Dog Heaven is now ruled by one very short, very long red-haired dog with an attitude.

~Molly O’Connor

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