As I am sure most of you have already guessed, the love that Daniel and I have for our "children" is what non-animal loving individuals would probably describe as over the top. I cannot help that we talk to them like they are human beings and I most certainly cannot help that both Bandit and Toby talk back. I also cannot help that they sit on the couch while we either fight for the one recliner or sit on the hard floor or that when we have McDonald's...they have McDonald's, the boys love their chicken nuggets. I also don't find it over the top that we know their likes and dislikes. For instance, Wagner, otherwise known as Petunia because he is so picky, will not tolerate ketchup. Don't you even think about giving him the french fry with ketchup on it, he wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. And you might as well forget about giving the dog his fruits and vegetables, he will take them from you, but he spits them out quicker than you can say "don't you dare". Bandit on the other hand will eat anything that doesn't eat him back. He loves tomatoes and he even eats the core out of our apples, this dog does not have a problem with ketchup and quite strangely loves his salt and vinegar potato chips.
Did I also mention that our dogs also have middle names, even some dog people find that one strange...I don't, it helps them to know when they are in trouble or not. I knew I was toast when I heard "Katie Jo", so when I holler Bandit Leroy or Toby Scott, they know to run for their apartments. Apartment is code for cage in our house and we holler Bandit Leroy and Toby Scott a lot in our house. Bandit has been spending a lot of time in his apartment this week, you see, he has himself a hot play toy by the name of Zoe behind us. Zoe's owners have absolutely no respect for their neighbors and allow her to wonder the neighborhood as she pleases and the first place she visits is our joint. Bandit and all of his one hundred plus lab fat can still muster the strength to jump the fence so when she comes calling, he goes answering. Thank God he has been fixed...I am way to young to be a Grandmother. He of course jumps back over the fence and into his pen after he gets caught and we think he thinks that by jumping back into the dog pen that that means Mom and Dad won't know and he won't get in trouble, boy is he wrong! He gets caught every single time and every single time he is banished straight to his apartment. His apartment is where he keeps his favorite socks from his Daddy and all of his favorite beanie babies that have made it back inside the house, I am beginning to think it's not really a punishment for him anymore, more like a time to play with his things without Toby taking off with something.
Wagner George doesn't have an apartment, he gave up chewing things years ago so he got upgraded to the couch for his residency. That was not the case when we first brought him home. He enjoyed reading and watching videos while home with Lucia during the day. He is just now getting around to replacing his Dad's favorite movie, "The Goonies". He was kind enough to replace the chewed up video with a brand new DVD for Dad's Christmas this year. We don't have to use his middle name as much as we do the other boys. His middle name only gets used when he is taking up the entire couch and we are faced with the sad lab eyes from Bandit just begging for one of us to make him share. It also gets said when he comes up and casually yawns in our face sharing his rank breath. When I say rank, I mean make your eyes water RANK!! You have not smelled bad breath until you have smelled Wagner's. We fear that this may be a Great Dane thing, because sadly, Toby is developing some nasty breath of his own. This of course is a horrible thing for us, because this dog is an in your face sort of dog. We have also learned that deep down inside Wagner's, "whatever" persona, he has a mischievous side. He has learned how to open the pantry door and he will just stand there scoping out the goods. This is how Daniel almost lost an entire bag of beef jerky around Christmas.
And then there was Toby. It will be a year next month since we adopted Toby and I will be honest with you. I didn't think we would reach that milestone with him. We didn't learn until after we got him home that he had an aggressive side to him. Of course when you are adopting animals that come from rescue situations where people have beaten and abused them, this is always a chance you take. Toby's wasn't caught at the rescue because his is somewhat dormant and it only comes out in certain circumstances. We learned those circumstances the hard way. Toby by no means can be restrained during unfamiliar situations or with unfamiliar people. Take for instance the first time he met his Grandpa, my Father, we laugh at this now, but at the time my Dad's life flashed before his eyes. Shortly after he was adopted, I threw Daniel a 30th birthday party. We made the mistake of keeping Toby in his cage for introductions instead of allowing him out to meet and greet the guests on his own terms. Dad made the unfortunate mistake of going to check the new addition out and all I can say is, Toby sounded like a wounded grizzly, Dad came running, eyes as big as silver dollars, and I swear Toby's cage moved eight feet from the wall where it originally started, with him still in it. It was after a few more run ins with him and strange people while still caged that we put two and two together. When Toby is faced with a person he is unfamiliar with, he gets scared, and put him in a cage where he can't escape that person he also feels threatened. His only defense for himself in this situation is to growl and act like an idiot and hope that the person goes away. I threatened to pack his bags for him before we finally figured out this wasn't his fault, that someone obviously did something to him before he was rescued. I feel guilty now I will admit, it's not his fault that he has a few nuts and screws loose upstairs. I mean after all, I came from two nuts who screwed, and no one has threatened to take me back. A year later, Toby is best friends with his Grandpa, it took some apologizing on his part, and Grandpa casually reminds him of their first meeting every so often. It also helps that we have a house full of people every Saturday night so I think he is used to people by now. He is the biggest baby you will ever meet and just like any other baby he demands to be held. He sits in Daniel's lap and when his Uncle Matt comes to baby-sit, Uncle Matt must hold and comfort him in the recliner. The dog even enjoys perching his behind on your shoulder with his paws on your lap. We like to refer to this as his "Polly want a cracker" pose. Toby is also my snuggle buddy and kitchen helper. When I go to bed at night, Toby isn't far behind. He stays there until his Dad comes home from work and then its adios Mom and hello Dad. When I am in the kitchen, Toby is in the kitchen. He has his own rug to lay on and is a major pain in my rear to cook with. He thinks he gets to try everything, and sees no problem with laying his head on the other side of the counter and commence drooling. He's Daniel's constant companion and I tell the dog all the time to leave some space between him and Daniel when they are trucking along, because one of these days, Daniel is going to stop without warning and Toby is going to experience a little of what we suffer with when we smell his and Wagner's breath.
Sadly, at one point in time we were the proud parents of four children. We still are the parents of four children, it's just that one has gone to live permanently at her Grandma and Grandpa's house. We had to have Lucia, our gorgeous red Doberman put to sleep on 9-13-08 after we learned she had bone cancer. We keep telling the boys that Peanut went to live with Grandma and Grandpa and I know we need to stop saying that because I know when we ask them if they want to go see Grandma and Grandpa, they are probably thinking "Hell no, last time Lucia went she didn't come back". That girl had a personality on her the size of the Grand Canyon and to say she was her Dad's little Princess would be an understatement, she had been his life. Before I stole Daniel's heart, another girl had. Lucia Marie became her Daddy's little girl around Christmas eight years ago and until I came trotting along, she had him all to herself. Daniel started truck driving when he got out of the Navy and it wasn't long after that that he rescued her. Lucia was his truck driving companion and more than likely in all of her Doberman glory, kept him safe in many a truck stops. We have had our share of crying fits since her passing, you should have seen us on Christmas when we went out to see her grave. I have her collar hanging on the rear view mirror in our Equinox and I like to think that whenever her tags jingle, that's her checking in. We have now finally moved on to the should we get another Dobie phase. Do we need another mouth to feed, no. Would our Mother's kill us, heck yeah!! Do we need the love and affection from another red Doberman, sadly yes. We know when we get another, which we will eventually, that it will have to be female, and it will have to be red just like Lucia. We also decided over the weekend to name her Ariel after playing with a black and tan one at a pet store. Would you believe that today we found a red doberman puppy at the Doberman rescue we associate with? She was left to die along with her siblings when they were rescued. The very strange thing is, guess what her name is?? It's Ariel and I can't help but think maybe it's a sign that Lucia left this planet so that we could be this one's forever family as she was born right around the time Lucia first started to get sick. The question is, do we move forward with trying to adopt her, or do we act like responsible adults and say no like our Mother's would prefer that we do?? Only time will tell. But come on, how big of a coincidence can it be that she meets our requirements and her name is already Ariel?? Now that I have shared a few tidbits of information about our little doggie family I will get back to doing food!!