I have two dogs. If you’ve taken time out of your busy day to read any of my prior posts (thank you, by the way), you’ve meet Carla. She’s a greyhound, a retired racer and active shoe thief. Here she is. Gorgeous, isn’t she?
And she’s good, too. Except for the shoe thing, she’s generally obedient and so, so sweet.
My other dog is MacDougal. He’s a White West Highland Terrier. He’s eleven years old, and if you’re knowledgeable about the average life spans of terriers, you’ll know he’s not far from his expiration date. If that sounds callous, forgive me. I’m having difficulty dealing with what’s going to happen, and biting sarcasm is how I mask it.
I got Mackie when I was in my first semester of law school. It was a grey November day, and I was depressed. Finals were coming, civil procedure was messing with my brain, and I needed a distraction. So I took a break and went to the local pet store.
(That’s him right there. He loves to pose.)
Now, back then, the state didn’t have the puppy mill laws that it does now, and the pet store was pretty much at puppy capacity. There were beagles, shepherds, corgis, and bulldogs. And in the corner was a White West Highland Terrier. Four months old. Marked down from $1200 to $125.
That’s right. I bought a marked down AKC White West Highland Terrier. Tax, tag, and accoutrements included, he came out to be around $400 bucks. When I tell other Westie owners this, they blink in disbelief. I got a steal.
(Look at that look. It’s like he knows I’m calling him a bargain basement Westie, and he’s not having it.)
Buying him was the only bargain I had with him. Since that fateful day he has cost me a fortune. An absolute fortune. Did you know Westies have skin problems? Well, they do. You’ve got to keep them groomed, or they’ll get matted as hell. They are allergic to everything. Everything. His food costs me $200 a month. And he’s a twenty pound dog. When I think of all the money I have spent on this creature, it makes me want to weep.
(Mackie with a Daffodil. The dog’s a ham. Must be a Westie thing.)
I suppose it would all be worth it if he was a good dog. The kind who’s loyal and protective, a companion above all others, a dog who would get somebody if I fell down a well kind of dog.
He’s not. He’s a terrible dog. I’m not exaggerating. He is a completely terrible dog. If dogs live to serve, I got the one dog who requires me to live to serve him.
(He’s being super cute here; something he does when he knows he’s done something wrong.)
He actively patronizes me. Seriously. We’ll be walking, and if I go a direction he’s not interested in going, he’ll simply sit down. It’s like, “I’ll rest here until you come to your senses, little lady.”
I can’t even count the times I’ve had to carry him home.
And then there was the running away. For the first three years of his life we played a non-stop game of Catch Me If You Can. He got away from a dog sitter and caused him to twist his ankle chasing him. He got away from my mother and nearly got dognapped. He got away from my cousin and a stranger brought him back. The last time he ran away from me, I stuck him in his crate, jumped up and down, and screamed, “YOU WILL NOT RUN! YOU WILL NOT RUN!”
(Who me? N’uh huh. I would never. She’s exaggerating. You know how girls are.)
It must have worked. He never ran away after that.
Then there’s everything he’s torn up. Like the time he tore up a brand new pair of Cole Haan boots. I caught him with one and punished him soundly. After an hour time out in his crate, I let him out, and he immediately went and got the mate to the same pair of boots. Tell me dogs can’t reason. Tell me dogs can’t chose between right and wrong. Mackie knew exactly what he was doing when he made that choice. He knew it was wrong and he did it, anyway.
I found out after the fact that Westies are notoriously difficult dogs, to the point that Westie owners have branded their unique personalities “Westitude.” That’s a cute way of saying don’t bother to try to train them. It won’t take. The only thing I can get Mackie to do is sit, and when he does, he always looks a bit put out. It’s like, “I’ll sit because it will upset you if I don’t,” more than “I’ll sit because I’m a good dog.”
(Cute picture, right? Don’t be fooled. Carla stole his spot, and he’s pissssssed.)
He’s never done a damn thing he’s told without giving me that Westie smirk.
As he’s gotten older, he’s mellowed. As a friend who looked after him a few years back once said, “He’s not naughty, but he doesn’t do what he’s told.”
(That’s Mackie with my mother’s Corgi, Gertie. He hates Gertie.)
He won’t take a pill. He won’t let me brush out the mats. If he sees me and another person in the room, he’ll always go to the other person first. He won’t even let me get the gunk out of his eyes.
He’s whiny. He’s ridiculously dramatic. He’s so dramatic, in fact, that he’ll feign sickness, only to be a hundred percent better when we got to the vet. I’ve even seen him fake a limp.
He hasn’t done that recently, though.
Right now, he is sick. It’s his kidneys. The vet has told me that it’s only a matter of time now. He has good days and bad days, and yesterday was a bad day. He is still eating and he’s comfortable, so I’m not planning a final trip to the vet this week. Hopefully not for another few months, or even a year.
This horrible, terrible, disobedient dog is my heart, and it will absolutely break me when it’s his time to go across the rainbow bridge.