An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Even more important than a pop tart

A few days ago our occasional babysitter brought over her sister’s miniature pinscher, Bronx, and without thinking I let them into the living room before running it by our resident Gremlin of the Underworld. When Chuck saw Bronx he performed the ritual sniffing of the sacred regions and then determined that Bronx was a chocolate treat clad in argyle wrapping.

Three times I had to prevent Chuck from eating Bronx before I realized that by letting Bronx into the house I had triggered Chuck’s instinctual need to protect his territory. So I ordered everyone outside where the two dogs could meet on neutral ground, and once we were up the street on an indiscriminate stretch of sidewalk Chuck got Bronx halfway into his mouth before the argyle sweater got caught on his front teeth.

Chuck hasn’t ever been a vocal dog, reserving his few barks for the taxidermist who lives next door and sometimes for a snowman across the street who he thinks is a strange man spying on the house. A few weeks ago the taxidermist’s wife rolled out a stuffed ox? or a mountain goat? maybe a yak? into their front yard and parked it like a statue next to their porch. Thing liked to have scared the shit out of me, it looked so alive and capable of forming complex sentence structures. The evil part of me took over when I walked Chuck right up to it and just as his hackles went up I roared like a lion being violated by a taxidermist’s arm. Our dog jumped three feet into the air without a running start, and now he won’t pass that house without being carried.

I understand why he’s angry at the resurrected livestock, but I couldn’t figure out why after almost an hour of interaction he wanted to tear Bronx’s limbs from his tiny chocolate body. At first I thought it might be the two gigantic balls hanging intact between Bronx’s legs, or the way Bronx would rub those intact balls in a rhythmic motion against Chuck’s face. And then I thought it was the way Bronx flitted about the living room in a distinctly cat-like fashion, often gliding across the two-inch beam on the back of the couch like a gymnast or a flamboyantly gay ice skater.

It wasn’t until Leta came running into the living room that it all made sense, and it was then that we witnessed the embodiment of what we had hoped the relationship between the dog and the baby would one day become. Chuck immediately threw his body in front of Leta, and the more she tried to work her way around him, the more forcefully he used his body to shield her from the Chocolate Cat.

Bronx tried to contort his body in unimaginable ways to get at Leta — kids are always covered in dried food and must seem like giant walking lollipops to dogs — but Chuck growled and bared his teeth as a warning that he would sacrifice his own body before he would let his sister be defiled. We’ve never seen him be so protective of something, not even a rawhide bone or a slice of beef jerky. Leta should feel lucky because I can’t think of a better compliment from a living creature.

  • I spent two hours this morning researching the dog I am about to get – and now he can’t come soon enough because all I want to do is devise hilarious and innovative forms of dog mindfuckery.

    oh, heather, you’re such an inspiration.

  • My dog Dante adores my daughter. She’s 11 months and crawls like Mario Andretti across the floor to get to the dog. The attack each other and he proceeds to lick her from head to foot before shoving his doggie tongue in her mouth around muffled giggles. It’s like doggie Niagara when the two of them get together.

    Can Dante by vice president?

  • Did you get a picture of Chuck protecting Leta for the next calendar? I love the first one.

  • Everqueer

    I miss having a dog. My felines never do anything this presh.

  • The Bold Soul

    Chuck rocks! There is nothing like having a dog around the house to make you feel loved and appreciated. And what an awesome display of bonding between Chuck and Leta.

    When my niece was born, her family had a very hyper Golden Retriever and I used to worry the dog would accidentally trample the baby when she was too little to do more than lie on her tummy and lift her bald head off the floor. One day while the dog and Big Brother were rough-housing, I saw just how careful the dog actually was with the baby, when he was running through the house and skillfully hurtled over the infant without putting a scratch on her. He knew right where she was and he knew how not to hurt her. She, of course, thought it was hysterical and giggled that gleeful baby giggle.

  • victoria

    That was extremely hilarious. I love the roar like a lion being violated by a taxidermist’s arm.

    And yet — please don’t boot me off forever — the English teacher in me can’t help saying, the relative clause here, “a snowman across the street whom he thinks is a strange man spying on the house,” should have been written, “a snowman across the street WHO he thinks is a strange man spying on the house.” (“Who is a strange man” is the relative clause, and “who” is its subject.)

    CNN’s website publishes sentences like this, “The suspect, whom police say was found carrying a knife, is in custody,” all the time. It should be “who police say was found carrying a knife.”

    Then I have to write CNN long emails about it, because I know correcting people’s grammar always makes me so popular.

  • I saw those pictures of the little chocolate ankle nipper on flickr and thought those ears look at awful lot like pig ears.

    You sure Chuck wasn’t just hungry for a rawhide?

  • StaceyStae

    Thanks for all your great stories. I’m a first time commenter and I’ve never emailed you. I’ve been reading for a long time and you know we all love Chuck and Leta and the rest of the Armstrong clan. I have Chuck’s calendar and absolutely adore it! Do you think he’d autograph it for me? 🙂

  • kawaface

    i don’t understand how people can live without dogs. or at least a pet… but dogs are obviously way better than any other animal.

  • MontanaJen


    I can’t bring my dogs around other dogs because they’re convinced that any other dog is trying to hurt ME. I shudder to think of what’s going to happen with a kid.

    I usually disagree with clothing on dogs – but in Mr. Bronx’s case, I must applaud.

    Happy little sweater dog, and his effeminate acrobatics.

  • Luv2Ballrm

    That is so precious! Chuck the wonder-dog protector….you can add that to his resume! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your life and pictures with us. I’m an avid reader of “Blurbdoocery”…you bring joy to my days.

  • Love it. I’m not a dog lover but I really think that Chuck could rehabilitate me.

  • Dogs in clothes kind of freak me out. Especially on those “Yo quero Taco Bell” breed of pooches.

    But that’s really cool that Chuck has a “momma bear” instinct.

  • ProudMary

    We have three dogs, the smallest and youngest of which has always been a total social freak, particularly around children. We were naturally concerned that she wouldn’t get on well with our new baby, but she guarded his crib from the other dogs the first night we brought him home, which continues to this day. She adores him while the others couldn’t care less. They really are amazing animals that never cease to amaze.

  • So precious. And so incredibly reassuring.

  • marianna

    You’re so lucky you have Chuck, Heather. I have Mitzi, a female sausage dog who loves to hump the cat, also female. It may be unethical but it makes evenings with the two of them in the lounge far more amusing.

  • Donny

    I have admired the way you turn normal, everyday stories into literary gemlets. I agree with the poster who said you’re still the Queen of funny. My fiancee always looks at me funny in the mornings as I stare at my computer with a huge smile on my face, and then rolls her eyes at me when I begin laughing out loud. She knows I’m reading “Dooce” again. She’ll understand once she’s a parent (I have a son, but with an ex-wife).

    What a heart warming story. Think my Beagles will ever protect my son like that? Nah, I doubt it.

  • Oh, and PS about the lollipop comment– call it 5th kid syndrome or whatever, but I actually appreciate it when Cricket cleans off the baby’s mouth after she finishes her meal! ha!)

  • Jessica

    That is so sweet. Best. Dog. Evar.

  • wendy

    If you wear a scary mask and leap out at Chuck in the dark, you may be able to recreate the bison scare. Better yet, he may learn to climb the side of your house. Um, not that I’ve tried that with my own dogs after a couple of beers just to see what would happen.

  • Our dog normally behaves as if our daughter is a toddler-sized tribulation, but whenever we go to my in-laws (who seem to be a pet refuge–so many dogs), our dog goes into protection-mode. She does exactly what Chuck does, minus the growls. Of course, none of those dogs are wearing pea-green argyle–that may be the difference.

  • Sunni

    Chuck was just being a good fashion policedog and felt he had to protect Miss Leta from that horrid sweater. She might have been blinded for goodness sake!

  • My little 4 pound toy poodle sleeps right outside my little girls’ bedrooms and is ON GUARD all night.

    Dogs are AWESOME. Cricket may not be much for actual protection, but she’s great as a warning system. My girls play out in the yard only when that little fuzzy black warning system is out there with them.

    Gawd, I love your comments being open. It’s because of my tribute poem, right???? I made this happen? (and don’t go telling me I have delusions of grandeur, I already know it.)

  • pjmcb

    We’ve accomplished pretty much the same thing by just having more and more kids. By the time our first girl came along, her three older brothers were first so enamoured, and then so protective, that she’s protected from all sides, day and night. We like to joke that we’ll never have to worry about her dating, since her brothers will run off any boys.

  • I love your Chuck stories and hope my pugs are as protective of our future children.

    Your descriptions always crack me up.

  • I think Chuck was offended by the sweater. Dogs in clothes….bah.

  • happykap

    I love reading about Chuck. 🙂

    We had an Irish setter who was also very docile until my twin sister and I were born. He’d run in between our cribs constantly to make sure we were both okay and protected us from visiting dogs.

  • That’s so cute that Chuck is so protective over Leta. Our family dog Mocksey (died a few years ago) was SO protective over my baby brother, he’d stand on his hind legs overlooking the cot, and if anyone he didn’t like came near the baby, he’d chase them right out of the house! Endless source of amusement for me 🙂

  • Maniacal

    HAHAHAHA Still on the floor laughing at the picture I have of you in my head roaring just as poor chuck got up to the stuffed ox? LOL Never seen a dog jump that high….but I’ll admit I’ve done that to my cats on numerous occasions….*giggle* especially when the dust buster is involved….actually looks like they had a spring under them that just tosses them across the room…..funny every time!

  • Bird Lover

    I also have a small dog (miniature weiner dog named Nelly). She does not have the protective instincts that Chuck has. It is all about her. Kayla who? The only time Nelly hangs out around Kayla is when she is eating, has eaten, or is thinking about eating.

    If Kayla were in imminent danger Nelly would politely move out of harm’s way. I can’t really blame her for not being more aggressive. Her teeth are the size of baby corn so the most she could is give you a rash if she bit you.

  • Too cute. Although I’m not exactly a dog person I probably would have melted if I saw that.

  • Sorenson

    I grew up with big, hairy, protective dogs (Briards). As a trade for keeping us safe, they received a lot of love and exclusive use of our clothing as post-drink-of-water napkins. Good times.

  • Janine

    No way dude…you’re leaving comments on??

    I’m sorry to say: but Bronx is quite ratlike in appearance.

    Nonetheless, my dog, the world’s largest carnivourous baby, probably would have immediately gone through the ritual of smelling said ratlike pup and then running in terror from it. Normally, this entails him hiding behind me and then barking at other animals from the safety of behind my legs.

    Yes, my dog would gladly sacrifice me to the ratlike creature to protect his own netherregions from being sniffed.

  • Tim in Flyover Country

    You wouldn’t see a cat trying to protect Leta like that would you? This is why dogs rock! Why can’t more former congressmen be like Chuckles?

  • Just teach that dog to cook and you have free, instant babysitting for life.

  • jacks

    I love stories about Chuck. They make me smile.

  • Hmmmmm … I used to be a military police k-9 handler; sounds to me like Chuck might have found a career path.

  • Just please, please, PLEASE don’t let this teach Leta lessons about hatin’ on argyle. Argyle is so misunderstood in our society. Just say “no” to argyle abuse.

    And Chuck could totally use Bronx’ legs as toothpicks when he gets done devouring him.

  • Chocolate treat in argoyle wrapping… hahhahaha. What a description! I’ve chuckled quietly to myself about this much of the morning.

  • Kelly

    OMG – I really shouldn’t read this at work. Your writing cracks me up Heather!

  • monkey

    Animals are great like that. They have this whole indifferent act till shit goes down, and then suddenly it’s like “Aww…so ya DO care!” My cat is the same way. When we’re watching him he acts as though my younger son doesn’t even exist. But then we catch him sneaking in the boys’ bedroom and keeping an eye on them, especially if one of them is sick. I just figured he has a “cool” act.
    Kudos to giving Chuck a phobia of the house next door! LOL We used to do things like that all the time to our dogs. I feel horrible, but damn it was funny!

  • Kem White

    I love the pictures of Bronx. But those ears! They’re amazing. He’s like the dog batboy would own.

  • Erin

    Oh how I loves me some animal stories.

  • Love that! When our kids were small we had a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)who was exactly that way. Whenever we raised our voices even a little towards the kids he would position himself between us and them, which was kind of annoying and wonderful all at the same time. When strangers would come to the house he would immediately locate the kids and stay in close proximity. I’m pretty sure that’s why I became a dog person.

  • jes

    When thinking of Chuck in this way, all that came to mind was:

    “I need a herooooo – I’m holding out for a heeeroo til the end of the niiigheetttttt!

    “He’s gooootta be strong, and he’s goooootta be fast and he’s goootta be fresh from the fiiight…I neeeeed a heeeeerooooooo!”

    And then I started thinking about Footloose, and how I haven’t seen it since I was in middle school and watched it every day when I got home, and I think this song is playing when they’re in that tractor chicken-fight, right?

    And then I was imagining Chuck running down that road, playing Chicken with the Argyle Sweater. Er, Bronx.

    And Chuck totally won. Argyle ended up floating down the river.


    Dogs always do something sugary sweet and endearing like this right before they puke up gummy bears on your sofa. It’s their way of keeping balance in the world.

  • Molicious

    Wow, comments again huh? Cool!

    That dog is just the cutest. But not as cute (or even precious) as Chuck.

  • That’s adorable.

    Oddly enough, my (enormous attack/guard) cat does that for my (jittery yet thank god not yappy chiwawa/terrier) dog.

  • prac·tice dog (prak’tis dawg): a sweater-clad pseudo-canine-rat creature that indecisive people will adopt to ensure they can someday commit to owning a real Chuck-sized dog.

  • dayslikethese

    Hilarious! Chocolate Dog! I love the sweater. Chuck for president. The Chocolate Dog for best dressed. You’ve got my vote.

    Chuck seems to be very protective and that’s a good thing. I can recall a moment when Leta thought it would be a good idea to go down the steps and he protected her from tumbling down. He’s a genius! I love it, love it, love it.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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