Hi, my name is…well, it’s still not important, but I’m here for my weekly support meeting. See, I have an almost unspeakable confession to make. I am the owner of a little frou frou dog. Now, I know that this statement provokes one of two distinct reactions. The first, and most appropriate, is “So what?” The second is, “Pussy. What? Can’t handle a pit bull?” And up until the past two years or so, I probably would have leaned more in the direction of sentiment #2. You see, I grew up with dogs that worked for a living, and therefore had to be larger than the cat. Believe me, I’m still of that rare philosophy that says if it has to bark and jump at the same time, it’s probably not a real dog.
I worked as a dog groomer and handler, and I can tell you that my impression of most little dogs, is, well, not so good. Of course, who can blame the dog for being an obnoxious brat when the idiot owner indulges it at every turn. But I know what a lot of you immediately think of when you think of little ankle biters because I get the same visual as you do.
Yeah, I think I’m going to pass on having that in my house. Along with this:
Is a dog supposed to sound like that? Really? Yeah, I’m going to pass. Don’t even get me started on that crap grooming job either. I wouldn’t have paid for that, and neither should the owner. Barking, jumping and ankle biting aside, these are some high-maintenance vehicles. There’s the grooming:
The doorbell obnoxiousisity:
People never believe me when I tell them this, but you can train that out of a dog, even a small one.
The over-indulgence factor:
Not happening in this house.
And the wuss quotient:
That dog is totally that cat’s bitch.
Then I met my dog Mushu. We met Mushu on the streets of our foreclosed and semi-abandoned housing complex in Contra Costa County, California. She was wearing a dirty old coat and pushing her shopping cart along the sidewalk (as would you if you were homeless) when some jackass in an SUV almost ran her over. We took her home, placed ads, made phone calls, filed reports at the shelter and nobody came to claim her. California state law says she had to spend at least a week in jail before getting paroled to a new home.
In the time she lived with us she somehow managed to avoid every single pitfall that would have left her in the Martinez Animal Shelter. She never barked at the door (or at all for that matter), she didn’t nip at anybody, she came perfectly house broken. She even let me clean her up and get her back on the road to hotness:
If she’d tried to pull this off when I groomed her, I would have politely declined:
Nope, she just dealt with it. Of course, like many small dogs, she’s a wuss. The cat beat her into submission within minutes of arriving at the house and she’s afraid of just about everything. I’ve come to the conclusion that her family members were all picked off one by one by trash cans, various household appliances, vacuum cleaners, an ice maker and a blender. Shih-tzu frappe, anyone? Yeah, the hair gets caught in your teeth; I think I’ll pass too.
The one amazing thing about the frou frou dog is that people are a whole lot friendlier to me with her than they ever were when I walked my Akita, Max.
Yes, they’re known for aggression and lack of predictability, but Max was extraordinarily trained. I know; I trained him. He never drew the crowd that my little diva does. School children cross the street to pet her, people ask me questions about her all the time, I get asked who grooms her (Me, of course. I can’t trust her to amateurs and I can’t afford Russian Hill Groomers.) She went from being a vagrant to a rock star in the space of a year.
I must confess, she’s an absolute joy. You haven’t lived until you see a shih-tzu so excited to see you that she spins her tail in circles fast enough to levitate like a helicopter. I can leave her alone in the house for longer than five minutes and not have her attempt to eat the furniture. She does what I ask of her, even when she’s afraid, cold, hungry or tired. She never holds a grudge and she doesn’t intimidate the guests.
Sure, there are the occasional shenanigans with the cats, but I can’t complain. Owning my little frou frou has been akin to a religious experience. I think I’m converted. Just don’t tell her; she already has a big enough messiah complex.