by Carol Lee
Mr. Vagabond and I have two dogs. Sinner, our 12-year-old Chow mix, is smart as a whip, dainty as a daisy and communicates in people-speak as if its her first language. Her breath could drop you like a flamethrower, but her other traits make up for it. Gypsy, our 3-year-old Lab / Golden Retriever mix, is just like Sinner. Only opposite. There is hardly a day when we don’t question our rapidly deteriorating sanity since Gypsy joined our family. Sinner lives with the eternal hope that Gypsy is here on an in-home trial basis and will be heading back to the shelter any day now. Sorry, Sinner. You just can’t pick your family, and for all the broken glass and tipped over trash cans, Gypsy is family.
Gypsy was snuggly baby at the shelter. That changed day we brought her home, after the vet tattooed her belly, installed and activated a LoJack chip and deactivated her girly bits. The ungodly howls and desperate attempts to claw herself free from her captors on the drive home should have warned us, but we were optimistic. That, or the puppy breath had already taken effect. It’s a little known fact that puppy breath is a mind-altering substance that causes otherwise rational adults to spend $20 on an indestructible rubber ball and say things like, “Awwww. Who’s the puppiest widdle puppy in the whole wide puppy?” I have done both. And the indestructible ball wasn’t.
Gypsy carves a path of destruction everywhere she goes. She lumbers about at a lithe 80 pounds, and her beautiful feathered tail can knock a glass of Pepsi off a table from across the room. I’d never had a dog who was a digger before, but Doodlebug (one of her nicknames) goes headlong into the dirt so deep the only thing visible is her fluffy tail wagging as dirt flies out of the hole in all directions. She’s destroyed three pairs of my glasses (one of which I found buried in the backyard), countless right-foot flip flops, rooms full of drywall, baseboards, the back steps... and my sectional. Well, it used to be a sectional. Let me know if you’re in the market for a bunch of left-foot flip flops.
With all of her quirks, I think the biggest one is how vocal Gypsy is. I have never seen or heard a dog make the broad assortment of sounds that she does. We almost named her Siren.
She’s not growling at me. Honestly. She’s just talking. She does that a lot.
Although I have taken her sweet face into my hands and calmly said, “Please let me like you,” and considering her flea allergy makes her a very expensive family member, you might think Sinner’s wish to be an only dog again might be fulfilled. But, no. Gypsy is our baby, too. She’s family as much as Sinner. We might go broke and crazy in the process, but we’re in this for the long haul. Everyone tells us that larger dogs usually settle down at the age of three. If not, at least flip flops are cheap, and we have good vision insurance. I could use the number of a good upholsterer, though.