Princess: Getting high on my pug
Wow, that is one big German shepherd,” people always say when I walk George around town. “How much does he weigh?”
What’s odd about this scenario is how people don’t even look at me and they address the dog as if I’m not even there, firing questions like I’m a translator for someone who does not speak English.
“Is he a real German shepherd?”
“But he’s so tall.”
“Did you get him in Europe?”
“No, my husband got him from some farm in Minnesota.”
I’m always tempted to be obnoxious. Like when someone goes, “Wow, that’s a really big dog,” I always want to say, “Really? All this time I thought he was a small giraffe.”
Or when they coo at him and talk about how handsome he is, I want to say, “He takes after my husband’s side of the family.”
The best is when we approach and people get all freaked out and scoop their small dogs off the ground in a panic, as if George is toting a semi-automatic weapon.
“He’s really friendly,” I always reassure them.
And they look at me suspiciously, like I’m lying, like I’m trying to bait them into coming closer so George can eat them.
The best is when they ask, “Is your dog friendly?”
And I want to say, “No, that’s why I let him walk off-leash, so he can run around and attack innocent bystanders.”
Now that we’ve added a pug to our family circus, it’s gotten even worse. Walking a 100-pound dog and a 10-pound dog around downtown Aspen is a full-time job.
The other day, I was sitting outside at Peach’s with Gertie in my lap and some lady comes up and starts going bananas over her. “Oh, aren’t you the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world?” she asks, kneeling at my feet and brandishing an iPhone.
Then she looks up at me and says, “I’m not talking about you,” as if there might be some confusion.
People make such a big fuss it’s gotten to the point where I want to pretend that we’re a tourist attraction. When they ask if they can take her picture, I want to say, “Five bucks for one, 20 bucks if you want rights to post it on Facebook.” The best was when Gertie was just a few months old and I went hiking with Catherine and her baby (who was born six days after Gertie so they are the same age) on the Hunter Creek Trail. Yes, Catherine was using a Baby Bjorn. I know Aspen moms are hard-core about getting their kids into mountain sports young, but even Catherine isn’t that agro. She carried the kid.
I had this sling I bought to carry Gertie because before her rhinoplasty surgery she couldn’t breathe very well (no I’m not kidding — the pug had a nose job, but it was for function, not fashion), so I had to carry her.
Everyone we passed on that trail went absolutely nuts over the puppy. “Oh, my God, that is the cutest pug I have ever seen,” they would croon. Then came the questions: How old, how much does she weigh, is she going to get much bigger than that, will she be baptized, have you thought about where you’re sending her to preschool yet, etc., etc.
Not one person commented on the baby, except this one heavyset woman in her mid 50s with a strong New York accent did say, “Is it safe to hike with a baby like that?”
And I wanted to say, “Lady, it’s not like she’s making the kid run up the mountain. She’s carrying him, hello.”
I think even Catherine was a little wounded by the whole scenario, and she doesn’t bruise easily. But she didn’t say anything because she understands that as a new mom, I’m quite sensitive.
I remember when we first got Gertie, my friend Karl told me not to treat her like a baby. He adopted a pug named Simon, and he knows — if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile. I stood and nodded and agreed I was firmly against co-sleeping and would not carry the dog or dress the dog in silly little outfits or talk to the dog in a baby voice. Though truth be told, we were thinking about speaking Spanish to her because we believe in a bilingual society, and plus, we’ve heard that it makes their brains grow bigger and they’ll have no accent if they become fluent before the age of 2.
Of course she sleeps with us. And she snores, and she’s the biggest bed hog, and she wedges herself between us — in our marital bed — so if there’s any hope of romance, we have to put her on the floor, and she whines the whole time and tries to jump up, and I have to yell, “Don’t even look at her!” so it doesn’t ruin the mood.
And of course George hates her, kind of. He hasn’t eaten her yet, and he could if he wanted to, so I take that as a good sign. Mostly he just stares at me like I’m stupid, and once, I swear to God, he was so annoyed with us that I think I saw him roll his eyes.
It’s true I probably got a little carried away with the pink camo puffy jacket I make Gertie wear when it’s cold, and the fly on the wall knows about the baby talk that goes on pretty much all day long.
I get it that people in this town are dog-crazy, but there are times when it’s just plain crazy. Speaking of which, does anyone know a seamstress who will alter dog jackets? Gertie’s between sizes, just like I am. She must get that from my side of the family.
The Princess is just happy she hasn’t become a crazy cat lady. Email your love to email@example.com.
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