When Mr. Vagabond is out of town, which is pretty much all the time, Gypsy and Sinner sleep upstairs with me. Gypsy is a 65 pound 1.5 year old Lab / Golden Retriever mix. Sinner is a 9 year old Chow mixed with some elusive, small breed that was very ambitious to have ever taken on a Chow; much less a Chow looking for a good time. She’s about 40 pounds soaking wet. My two furry girls have different methods for approaching mornings, and they couldn’t care less about how I want to handle the situation.
I crawl out from under cozy quilts and open my bedroom door at first light. Gypsy is wild with excitement. Sinner wants to sleep in. So while Gypsy is running sprints up and down the stairs, I am trying to nudge Sinner off the bed. She’s old. She’s cranky. She’d rather I bring breakfast to her and then let her go back to sleep. My foyer has no heat, which also means the upper hallway and stairs have no heat. It’s a harsh thing to go from a warm bed to a frigid hallway in winter. It’s worse when the cranky old lady won’t cooperate and the pup is trying every way she knows to get everyone up to her level of excitement. And I haven’t had coffee yet.
Once Sinner is up and on her paws, I close my bedroom door and head down the steps coaxing her along. She is a polite little thing, and refuses to go first. Gypsy is still running sprints and darting between my feet in her spare time. A sturdy handrail is a must.
Sinner is also very delicate, at least when it comes to stairs. Standing at the top, she pokes one little paw out, then pulls it back. She looks at me for reassurance, which usually comes in the form of, “Sinner, baby. Come on.” Gypsy is still running sprints. Sinner is not amused by any of this.
When Gypsy makes it back down to the foot of the steps, Sinner gives it another try. I’m freezing at this point. Out goes the little paw again, with much trepidation, and she places it on the top step. “Come on, girl.” I sweet-talk her. Nope, she pulls it back again because Gypsy has made it back to the top of the steps and is running laps around her. Sinner barks. Gypsy laughs.
When Wild Thing makes it back to the foot of the steps again, Sinner’s paw extends for another go at it. “Sinner! Please! Come on, baby”. With a heavy sigh, she tests the waters again. (And speaking of waters, my bladder is about to burst at this point. And I’m shivering. And I still haven’t had any coffee!) With no more confidence than her first try, she pats her little foot on that top step. “Gramma, please. Come on. You can do it.” I beg. She moves on. Another little paw goes out, retracts, and then eventually finds a spot on the next step down. This is how she descends the entire staircase, every time. Each step requires the same test and more coaxing from me. Meanwhile, Gypsy is still running laps. Sinner growls when she gets too close. It’s like watching a punk kid taunt an old lady with a walker.
“Come on, baby girl. You can do it. Gypsy, no! Get down here!” Another step for Sinner, and another lap for Gypsy. My fingers and toes have gone numb and I’m about to lose the peepee dance-a-thon.
One might think that I should open the foyer doors and let Gypsy go on into the living room, thereby giving Sinner some space to concentrate on the stairs. When I tried that method, she ran laps around the living room. From the couch to the chair to the couch and around and around. Her beautiful, fringed tail is a cleverly disguised weapon of mass destruction, so sometimes she even knocks over the piano bench while making her rounds. And if I left the living room door open to monitor Gypsy, all the heat would be sucked out into the polar region that is my foyer in winter. Everything is a trade off in this old house.
Once Grandma makes it downstairs, the race to the back door begins. Stairs might be tricky, but let it not be said that a pup can beat an old lady when it comes time for a potty break. And away they go. Gypsy is galloping and Sinner is leaping with the grace of a deer before they both SMASH into the swinging door between the living room and kitchen. Next, they go skidding across the tile and ultimately plow into the back door, fur and paws flying. Their tails anxiously wag, and both of them are slobbering everywhere. Actually, Sinner’s tail is too short to wag. Hers is more like a wiggle. “Come on, Mama! Let us out!” Now, they’re coaxing me? Huh.
I’m trying to teach Gypsy manners about backing up and waiting for me to open the door. However, after spending 15 minutes getting Sinner down the steps, and consequently nearly leaving a wet spot on the floor myself, I open the door and set them free first thing in the morning.
After all those fun and games, I pee-pee dance, knees welded together, to the bathroom. Finally, there is peace inside the house. At least until I open the door to let them back in.