Metaphysical Mutts

How Laverne stays so thin

Having their pictures hanging in the local post office for biting the mailman just wasn’t enough for the dachshunds. The felonious little beasts are now on the county’s list of vicious animals, and they’ve been under house arrest, which in this case means they’re only allowed to leave the confines of our home under heavy security. Two leashes each.

Laverne and Shirley are the biggest little troublemakers on the planet. Well, Laverne is little. She’s eight pounds of pure badass, trotting her little self all over the yard as if every cat, dog, or person who passes should be terrified of her. And they should be. She bites. Not hard enough to break the skin, but it doesn’t exactly tickle, either.

Shirley used to weigh twelve pounds. Then she ballooned to twice Laverne’s size by gaining four pounds in one month. That’s a twenty-five percent weight gain. In Oprah’s world, it’s enough to get your picture on the cover of several tabloids with the blaring headline “OUT OF CONTROL!”

She was fat and lethargic and mad as hell about it. God knows that if I gained that much weight in one month, I’d bite someone, too.

The vet determined that Shirley had a thyroid problem. After a few weeks on soloxine, her “Skinny Shirley” pills, she was almost back to her normal weight. And I have to say that, if it weren’t for having seen the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer helped himself to the canine meds and then started to act like a dog, I might have been tempted to pop a couple of those little pink pills.

The soloxine did not, however, temper Shirley’s temper. She’s like Mike Tyson on speed when a stranger enters our yard, especially a stranger she deems to be of questionable character. And somehow, she’s surprisingly accurate in her character assessments.

According to some of the New Age wizards, animals mirror the behavior of their owners. But whose behavior are my dogs reflecting — mine or my ex-husband’s?

Well, for starters, the dachshunds are extremely protective of our children. I can grab my son and playfully shake him, and within seconds, Luverne is hurling her body at me like a Kamikaze fighter. Protecting the kids – that’s like me.

I’ll take credit for the pancake batter incident, also. They once intercepted the UPS guy and opened a package containing five pounds of sweet potato pancake mix. I pulled into the driveway to find them lying in the yard, bloated and unable to move. I love sweet potato pancakes, especially with cinnamon syrup. And although I haven’t gained twenty-five percent of my body weight in one month, four pounds in thirty days can be easily accomplished after a couple of three-ways with my friends Ben and Jerry. So the dogs’ eating habits are more like mine.

But pushing little kids down and attempting to hump them? And rooting around in gym bags looking for dirty underwear to chew on? I can’t say I’ve ever done either one. They got that behavior from my former husband.

So they’re a combination of my ex-husband and me, I guess. Energetic mixed breeds. Metaphysical mutts, if you will.

Well, there is one more story I should tell, an incident that happened after the divorce was final which might tip the balance in favor of my being their reflective inspiration.

My property taxes went up. The county claimed that a “Change of Ownership”  after the divorce was final prompted the reassessment and that the higher valuation reflected the increase in market value.

Being a writer, I quickly fired off a letter that only marginally veiled my outrage. First of all, there had been no change of ownership. I had received the house in the divorce and had, upon the advice of my tax attorney, placed the ownership of my home in a trust, appropriately titled the Grace Adams Trust. The name was the same, I pointed out. Secondly, I reminded the Office of Tax Assessors that the housing market was in a serious slump. According to recent reports on “Good Morning America,” my home was only worth two thirds of its previous valuation. So either they could reduce that valuation to accurately reflect current market values, or they could just agree that no name change had ever taken place, and we would all just forget the whole unfortunate incident.

Well, the unfortunate incident got worse. They sent an assessor to my home, but nobody told me she was coming. Had I been warned, the dachshunds would not have been patrolling the perimeter of my property hunting squirrels, moles, and well, tax assessors. The poor girl had no idea that the cute little doggies wagging their tails while barking ferociously would actually bite. (Actually, their method of attack is quite sophisticated. Laverne barks the ferocious warning, and Shirley sneaks up from behind and draws blood from the thin-skinned area around the ankle.)

I actually felt sorry for a tax assessor.

County Animal Control came to my house and verified they were current on their rabies vaccinations. They put my dogs on the county’s list of vicious animals and a ten-day home quarantine.

And then the county put my home’s valuation right back where it had been in the beginning.

Barking and growling while wagging their tails. They got that from me. Then again, if your dog barks and growls and chases tail, it could be mirroring the behavior of a cheating husband.

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