by Kris Neri
There’s a terrorist living in my house. No, not one of the awful people who bomb strangers. I spelled that wrong. I’m living with a terrier. The words are spelled similarly, and while terriers certainly don't create outright terror, they do create a bit of havoc.
After losing our beloved Cocker Spaniel, Annabelle, some months back, we decided to adopt a new dog. Our choice is always to rescue, since so many discarded pets need homes. And once again, we decided on a small dog. We’ve had dogs of all breeds, and variations of breeds, and all sizes in the past. And we’ve loved them all.
But our Maine Coon cat, Philly, is now sixteen years old, and though he’s in great shape for his age, he’s moving a little slower than he used to, and he doesn’t he pop up onto furniture as fast. He’s an unusual cat. On one hand, sweetly gentle. When he goes outside on the patio with us, the birds don’t even fly away. He watches them as they peck the ground for birdseed, just a few feet away. But he never approaches them, and certainly never attacks. And yet, when we used to have him in our bookstore, and large dogs came in with their owners, Philly would give them a smack from the countertop, immediately asserting his dominance over them. So we knew he would never be afraid of a larger dog. It’s just that we believed if the play got a little rough when we weren’t there, our old boy could easily jump up on a chair to get away from the little roughhouse.
We didn’t know that some small dogs can fly.
The one we chose proved to be even smaller than we expected to find. At the shelter, they told us she was a Chihuahua and Cairn terrier mix. Although I certainly knew what a Chihuahua was, I couldn’t even call up an image of a Cairn terrier. And at that time, the word “terrier” didn’t strike fear in my heart.
Someone at the shelter named the little charmer Rosie, and we thought it fit, so we kept it, although we decided her real name is Rosebud. It also turns out that it doesn’t matter that we couldn’t recall anything about a Cairn terrier, because most likely there’s not much Cairn in our little Rosie-stew. From the shape of her head and body, and the strength of her tiny shoulders, we’re convinced now that she’s more likely a Jack Russell terrier mix.
We once saw a TV show on Jack Russell terriers that left no doubt that the breed was outright crazy, and we sure weren’t nuts enough to take one on. Only it seems we did. After decades of experience with dogs and cats of all kinds, we’ve encountered our first terrorist…uh, terrier, and found that requires an unexpected learning curve.
Her antics were small enough to start with. She knocked over the basket in our closet that we use as a
hamper and made a bed of our dirty laundry. And ripped up used tissues in bathroom wastebaskets, or unrolled toilet paper. I never found it strange when cats unrolled TP, but somehow I find it strange when a dog rips of a section and carries it around.
Joe was so determine to deny any connection between whatever havoc we discovered when we came
home and his adorable little Rosie, he gave her an alter ego. He decided that the havoc we’d find was created, not by Rosie, but by “Kevin,” named for the little boy in the Home Alone movies. It was always, “What did Kevin do today?” Until, of course, he had to admit there was no Kevin, just Rosie.
We find the little squirt on tabletops. Now, we’ve had cats who’ve raided countertops, and dogs big enough to stretch up and steal from tables. But we’ve never had a dog who walked on tables before. We finally had to admit, from the placemats knocked askew, that she checked out our tables all the time when we weren’t there. But now she does it when we are there. One day I glanced into our dining room from the kitchen in time to see the dog on the table and about to hurl herself onto our sideboard — where we keep several breakables — before I shouted her name. Now when we leave the house, we have to squeeze the chairs tightly to the table, or better still, lean them into the tables to keep the little monster from climbing up there. Our home looks like a banquet, where all the seats are saved.
Otherwise, our table looks like this:
Since then I’ve seen her use my desk’s surface as a springboard toward climbing on a high windowsill. Not even our cat ever did that, not even when he was younger. And don’t get me started on everything she’s stolen from tabletops, desks, and nightstands.
Terrorists…uh, terriers, we’ve learned, are smart, energetic, and cannot stand to be bored. Nope, no boredom here now; not for any of us. And training them is said to be a challenge. No kidding.
On the other hand, terriers are as playful as puppies, and even if Rosie can seem to defy gravity better than a spider monkey, she’s brought an unexpected measure of fun into our household that we apparently needed.
She’s also brought interest into an old cat’s life. After we lost Annabelle, he sank so deeply into grief, nothing we tried brought him out of it. Until we introduced “Kevin” into our midst. Now, he follows her around as if he can’t wait to see what she’ll get into next. It’s like pet performance art. And though Rosie does thoroughly dominate us, she doesn’t dominate Philly. That he’s still king in our household allows him to keep piling up those old-cat years.
The obvious solution is crating, but we have radically different opinions about that. One of us regards it as a sensible solution, while the other considers it pet-jail. No point of compromise there.
So we accept regular visits from Kevin as the price of having fun little Rosie in our lives.
Pet owners, do you have any “Kevins” in your lives?