I have two dogs. One is a mini-poodle. He’s a failure of breeding—too tall to show at 12 inches at the shoulder—though his parents were champion toys. We got him in 2000, paying half price for a “pet-quality” animal. His name is Ronnie. Ronald Weasley Gettinger. Yeah, he’s red. At the time, we were reading Harry Potter on tape in the car on all long trips upstate, and who better to be named after than the best second banana in kid lit?
Ronnie’s a good boy. He learned the rules early and followed them. He looks like a stuffed animal with his shoe-button eyes, curly red hair, and alert stance, but he guarded the house from all and sundry with great ferocity for many years. He guarded us with great ferocity on walks. He took his job seriously—barking at every big dog he saw out the front door of our condo, which faced onto a big park where everybody walked their dogs. Lotta barking. Little Napoleon, that’s him.
When he was 5 ½ months old, one of my extremely intelligent progeny held him up high—and dropped him. This resulted in over $1300 worth of surgeries—one to pin the knee whose cartilage broke (and nip his balls off), and one to unpin it a year later when it had healed. He got to be walked in a stroller for a month. He hated it.
This dog has served us faithfully for 16 years now, and continues to do guard duty on the sofa arm by the front door when we leave, watching for intruders. Though now, when we come home, he chews us out at high volume (because he’s deaf) for five minutes for being gone SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO long and leaving him in charge all that time. The rest of the time, he sleeps really hard and has trouble climbing the stairs. At age 14 or so, he took to sleeping on our bed with us, a no-no in days of yore. But he makes his own rules now. He is the oldest one around, after all—past 80 in dog years. (Actually, he’s the equivalent of an 80-year-old person, so it should be called people years, don’t you think?) I’m not aure I agree with all his rules, especially when he decides it’s OK to poop in the house.
These days, his bluster is pretty well gone. He’s motivated by one thing. Food. Many different kinds. Plus snacks and licks of dirty dishwasher items. His taste changes with the wind, going from Hills W/D dry to Royal Canin canned to Hills I/D canned back to the W/D. He might need chicken or fish or beef or cheese with that, as well. Or an egg. He thrives on variety. I wish he spoke English, or at least read it, since he’s ordering off the menu, and I need to know how to cook that egg.
All his (considerable) vet bills have been related to the early leg break and later muscle strain and joint pain. He’s a real Energizer Bunny, except on walks now, when he pulls toward home the whole way—backwards for the first half, forwards for the second. Hey, he knows the route. Because of his size (10-11 pounds max) and his utter cuteness, some might label him a “near-dog” or a “pseudo-dog,” but he’s quite sure that he’s very large and imposing and important. And he is. He’s the military arm of the household. We salute him.