Livin’ la Vida Loca
My new doggie, Vida.
I missed my Monday blog, a week ago today. What happened was I adopted a rescue dog (pictured above). Her name is Vida. She is my companion and also First United Methodist Church’s new Church Dog. Yes, that’s right. We actually have an (unpaid) staff position called "Church Dog." You can read more about it here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. She's in there with the pastor, the music director, our administrative assistant, and me.
My new dog came to me with the name Veda (pronounced Veeda), but after she was introduced to members of the congregation, several of my Spanish-speaking friends perked up. “Oh, Vida! That means life!” Having studied Spanish, I perked up and decided I liked that interpretation. Vida is a loving, sweet 2-year-old coonhound/beagle mix. To me, she exemplifies what life is all about: love. And, honestly, would you expect the author of the Saint Maggie series to have any other take on the meaning of life?
My history is that I grew up with a dog. When I was four years old and my sister a toddler, the cocker spaniel across the street gave birth to a litter of mixed puppies. Because our neighbors were giving the pups away, my folks had me pick one out. I chose a brown and white pup with a white blaze from her head down to the nose. Think of the dog Lady from Lady and the Tramp. Not surprisingly, I named her Lady. That was the first and last time I named a dog.
I didn’t get another dog until midlife, when I realized that I probably would not get married, much less have children. I could become a Cat Lady, but I had severe cat allergies at the time. So a dog was a natural choice.
One of my friends had adopted a miniature Schnauzer/Cairn (?) terrier mix. I thought he was a great pup and told her, “I know this isn’t likely but if those two dogs ever get together again, I’d adopt one of the puppies.” Well… those two dogs did get together again. And I chose one that had coloring similar to a Yorkie terrier.
She was so cute! But I’m terrible at naming dogs. I suppose it’s a good thing I never had kids. “What should we name him, honey?” my spouse would ask. I’d reply, “I dunno. The Result of Hideous Pain? I’m Never Doing This Again?”
When I say I’m bad at something, I’m bad at it.
So I did the next best thing, I asked kids from my youth group to name the new addition. “Wow,” they said, “her ears are enormous! They stand up straight. She looks she came from the movie Gremlins.”
My terrier had the gift of sniffing out other alphas. She immediately knew my mother was the family alpha in and curried her favor. Grem then went on to humiliate my father by bossing him around and/or letting my mom know that Dad needed to take her outside, completely by-passing Dad. Gremlin even resented me. Oh, she obeyed me because she knew she had to. But I could tell she thought I wasn’t even close to her standards of alpha-ness. And yet, she was a great companion, who owned whatever street she was walking on.
I loved Gremlin and memorialized her in the Squeaking Pips logo.
A few months after Grem died, I learned that a friend of a friend had two miniature Australian shepherd puppies. The story was that a nice breeder out in Pennsylvania had bred one of her females (Spirit) to a stud named Rudy Valentine. Well, Rudy apparently lived up to his name sake (silent film star Rudolph Valentino), and voila! Female Aussie #2 was pregnant. The owner knew she couldn’t sell two litters of puppies in her area, so her friend in New Jersey offered to purchase two for half price.
That was when I received an email from my friend Margie with the subject line “Mini Aussie Puppy?” And soon I was had a new pup in my life.
But once again… name??? My friend and occasional scholarly collaborator Sloane suggested, “Well, she has a white tip on her tail. Why not call her Tippy?”
And so the mini Aussie became Tippy. If Gremlin was a super-alpha, Tippy was a super-beta. She was sweet-tempered and friendly. Her only issue was a case of leash-aggression with other dogs, which sad to say, I was not savvy enough to relieve.
After a period of being First UMC’s Assistant Church Dog, Tippy assumed the Church Dog title, upon the China, the first Church Dog retired. Tippy excelled at her job, happily greeting all who entered the office. She also was patient and loving with children. Being a herding dog, she came in handy during Confirmation class. When a middle-schooler would get up from the table, Tippy would bark at the student. The kid would laugh and walk toward her. Tippy would back up and bark again. The kid would walk toward her. And that clever little herder would bring the student back to the table.
Tippy also was great with cats. She and Dan’s cat, Pantera got along famously. In fact, when Tippy was very ill toward the end of her life, Pantera laid down nearby and watched over her.
Pantera doing the cat thing in a bag. Pantera & Tippy hanging out
Pantera is getting acquainted with Vida now. The folks at the shelter “cat tested” my dog and she passed – meaning she was curious about the kitty, but not aggressive. This morning, Vida has been curious about Pantera, receiving Pantera’s hisses for her trouble. But we expected Pan to react this way and know that in time the two animals eventually will become fast friends.
A week in to having Vida in mi vida, I can say that while not nearly as disruptive as a new baby or older adopted child, this has been an adjustment (as expected). I’ve had to let my Monday blog go as I developed a new routine for Vida and me. There has been a good morning walk and a longer walks during the day. My energetic, but mellow hound dog needs action. But we’re slowly getting into a routine that works for both of us. In fact, she’s currently sacked out in the living room.
I’m enjoying living La Vida (not so) Loca. With any luck, I’ll be back to regular blogging on Monday.
Have a great weekend.
P.S. Sorry for any major or minor typos or grammar errors!
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder