@ The Zoo | February 2005


Chili Dog

Chili Dog at rest

Those of you who follow this column (all two of you; your checks are in the mail) know I have a few pets. Two mice, a dog, a fish, and when JulieAnn was here (she’s gone now) several frogs and a cat. The cat and frogs are gone now, too.

Without JulieAnn here, that leaves poor Gladys (my dog) all alone at home all day while I’m at work. For those of you who know little (as I once did) about dogs, dogs are very social animals who can’t stand being alone any length of time. So, what did I do about this? Against my better judgment, I decided to make “the Zoo” slightly larger. By one (more) dog.

Fortunately (or not), my condo association allows us owners to have two dogs. I’ll play “don’t ask don’t tell” with the weight limit but I will say Gladys is “smallish” (although all those treats and table scraps have, ahem, “solved” that not-so-little problem) and the new dog, who I named “Chili Dog” in honor of the dish of the same name, is about the size of a Chihuahua.

And just as annoying.

Chili Dog is a toy fox terrier (Twit’s Note: Chili Dog was adopted from a public shelter, so there was no official way for us to determine her breed. However, after researching the issue well after this column was published, we believe she is either most or all rat terrier, which is related to the fox terrier). I should place special emphasis on the “toy” part, as she thinks EVERYTHING is a chew toy. And by everything, I mean such things as her leash, Gladys’ nose, the furniture, the carpet, paper towels, electrical wires, my leg, etc.

She’s a little thief, too, constantly stealing Gladys’ toys. Her favorite hobby is annoying me and forcing me to chase her as I bellow “No, no, no, no,” like a date who’s sworn to save him or her self until their wedding night.

One of my “favorite” activities to “enjoy” with Chili Dog is going out for a drag. Now, most people with dogs take their dogs for a walk. Some of you may have seen something similar but rather odd: people who will take a cat out for a “walk,” on a leash and everything. The joke with those folks is that they’re supposedly taking their cats out for a “drag,” as cats do not take well to being led around on anything, let alone a leash.

Well, neither does Chili Dog.

This strong-willed, stubborn, hardheaded little mutt (which are just a few of the nicer things I’ve called her) waits until I decide which direction I want to take her, then she attempts to take off at full speed in the opposite direction. Typically, this is going on while Gladys sits there on her own leash, looking at me with sympathy and just wagging her little tail. Too bad I couldn’t just clone Gladys (anyone have the number to that place that clones people’s pets?).

It doesn’t help that some of my neighbors have “exotic” pets (someone where I live has a chicken that runs loose–what can I say, I live in Hialeah) nor that we have a pond with ducks in it. Chili Dog’s vermin-chasing instincts (her breed was bred specifically to chase after rats and other small, fast-moving animals) kick into high gear and she tries to take off every time she sees another animal. To me, it feels as if I’ve lassoed a rocket and am holding on for dear life.

Good thing she only weighs 10 pounds. If she were the size of, say, a rottweiler or a German shepherd, she’d be in Tallahassee right now with my arm still attached to the end of the leash.

Then there’s potty training. She goes potty whenever/wherever she wants; I try to train her. Yes, my life right now basically revolves around the potty habits of a ten-pound dog.

Actually she has a crate I keep her in at night and when I’m at work. Otherwise, my condo would look like one huge doggie litter box. At least she knows to go when we go for her daily drag. She still hasn’t gotten it into that thick little skull of hers that the carpet is NOT her personal toilet, however. So the crate helps.

If I find her annoying, I can only imagine what poor Gladys thinks about her. I got Chili Dog to keep Gladys company. Sometimes, it seems, Gladys would rather go solo.

Their relationship goes like this: Chili Dog jumps on and annoys Gladys. Gladys snarls and snaps at Chili Dog. Chili Dog ignores Gladys and continues to jump on and annoy her.

So, you’re probably wondering by now (or not, maybe you’re just hoping I get to the point, after all you’re reading this on the john and your significant other or a family member is screaming that they have to go and when are you going to finish already?) why I’ve kept Chili Dog. After all, I adopted her from the County’s Animal Services shelter in Medley–they let you turn in a dog or cat you’ve adopted as much as 30 days later, if for whatever reason things don’t work out at home with your new pet.

Well, Chili Dog was a little sick when I got her and I blew some money at the vet on her. I don’t want to lose my investment in her health.

Oh yeah, also, I almost forgot: when I’m sitting down on the couch watching TV, and she keeps trying to jump up on the couch and finally makes it, then she gets on my lap and looks up at me with those sweet, not-so-innocent brown eyes and starts to lick my face, I laugh. I mean, I really laugh. Good old, hearty, belly laughs.

That’s why I can’t get rid of Chili Dog.