If you’ve read “About Me,” then you know about my dog. Phoebe. Sweetest dog on the planet, but suffering from terminal weirdness. Actually, we’re all suffering from it. Twice a year like clockwork, Phoebe gets the idea that she’s pregnant, and the whole world turns to madness for several weeks.
I had forgotten what it’s like to live with an unneutered dog. Don’t lecture me. I know. I am a huge supporter of spaying and neutering pets. But Phoebe’s a show-dog, and dogs can’t be shown in the breed ring sans gonads. But fear not. We’re never breeding her. As soon as we get that championship certificate, she’s getting all fixed up. Puppies are cute and all, but creating them is an enormous responsibility, and I shirk responsibility at all costs.
Phoebe was just in season a few weeks ago, so I knew what lay on the horizon. And sure enough. It all begins with the whining. She’s a PBGV (that’s a wire-haired basset), so a bit of noise is to be expected. But whining, whether from child or pup, is a sound I tolerate but poorly. And it’s not like I can tell her to use her big-girl voice. She doesn’t have one. She has a hormone-addled, “I’ve misplaced my puppies, and I must find them” delusional voice. And that’s how we know it’s a false pregnancy. If she truly had kids, she’d do like the rest of us when we find ourselves unexpectedly alone. She’d check her email and have a cup of coffee before setting out looking for the little blighters.
After the whining comes food refusal. Well, not exactly refusal. More like finickiness. My dog has never met a meal she didn’t like unless under the influence of progesterone. But feeding her during a false pregnancy becomes a bit of a game. And it is played like this:
1) Offer dog bowl of high-quality, costly kibble.
2) Dog turns up nose.
3) Let dog out of crate and close door.
4) Dog gives owner “I am so hungry! Why don’t you feed me? WHY DO YOU HATE ME?!” stare accompanied by whine and frantic crate-door scratching.
5) Let dog back into crate and offer bowl of food.
6) Dog hangs head in despair. More whining. “I can’t eat this! Why don’t you love me?” Scratches to be let out.
7) And so on and so forth until someone is crying, usually owner, and dog resolves to ruin owner’s every meal by staring forlornly and silently pleading for a decent bite to eat.
The very worst part by far, though, is the thing with the cats. The adoption of toys is not so bad. In fact, it’s kind of cute to see her little fuzzy self curled up and tending to a squeaky hamburger. But the cats. Oh, dear Lord, the cats. For starters, only one of the three felines can stand her, the other two would dance on her corpse. But she can’t keep them straight. And puppy-mode apparently dissolves all fear, as well as any functioning brain cell.
From the moment a cat enters the room, poor Phoebe is beside herself with the joy of seeing a small four-legged thing. She dances with glee and scoots closer to her “puppy.” But she’s never sure if she’s about to be greeted with a friendly nudge or the claws of death, which produces a fair amount of anxiety. Said anxiety calls for a bit of whining, which drives the cat further away, which produces still more anxiety. And more whining. Which repels even the cat that likes her still further, until finally Phoebes can stand it no more. She musters her courage and launches herself at the cat. But the hormones have addled her brains enough that she can’t decide if she wants to mother it or make sweet love to it in front of God and everybody. Let’s just say that my kitties are no longer innocent to the ways of the world.
And that is where you find us now, dog begging the cats to return her calls, kitties suggesting dog get a hobby/boyfriend/life. Two more weeks of fun left. Please shoot me now.