Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • And that is why the Former Congressman ROCKS!!!

  • Leta is a lucky little girl. She just better not have any argyle covered boyfriends in the future. (but then if her boyfriends are argyle covered, perhaps it’s okay if Chuck wants to eat them?)

  • Nothing better than seeing your “first” baby grow protective of the “second” one. Chuck gets my vote for president.

  • Adorable. Chuck is the best.

    When I was a kid, our small cocker-spaniel/poodle mix would bare its teeth and growl whenever my father spanked us. Once he even got his teeth locked on the cuff of my father’s jeans. I know it’s not fashionable to assign animals emotions, but there was something there that went beyond instinct, it seemed.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading this.

  • Amy

    Wow, you’re keeping comments on?! Leta is lucky to have Chuck. I wonder if my ferocious cat will be protective of my new baby when it comes or try to eat it.

  • Did you forget to turn off these comments? I am so giddy that comments are on that I have to leave one more.

  • Samara

    I heart Chuck. If there was a dog president I think he would be a fine candidate.

  • I’m jealous our cats don’t respond this way. Although one of them did try to mount our daughter when she was in the crawling stage. He would also run around with her binky in his mouth. That’s all quite dog-like.

  • OMW – you are still the Queen of funny…

    “like a gymnast or a flamboyantly gay ice skater.”

  • And some people have the nerve to say that animals have no emotions…

  • RzDrms

    p.p.p.s. i think she missed us. (i know we missed her!!!) 🙂

  • I’m guessing comments will be off tomorrow, but can’t help but indulge myself in leaving something totally inane anyway.

  • So glad to see that Chuck has finally come around to seeing Leta as something more than a source of table scraps!! Yeah for puppy love!!

  • That’s so sweet! Leta is HIS big pink treat, and he’s not sharing.

    Also, id say he was probably a bit freaked out that you were going to make him wear one of those sweaters!

  • RzDrms

    p.(p?)s. i have a cat. she likes blue birds. no testing on her please. that is all.

  • Snickrsnack Katie

    I knew that Chuck always had it in him to protect his sister. While dogs always are hesitant at first when there is a new addition to the family, they almost always come around and become extremely protective of said addition. My dog growing up was one such dog. Granted, I was born before her addition to our family, but I was two years old. Granted, she teased the hell out of me and was known to pull my diaper off and run around the house with it between her sharp fangs while I stood there screaming at her. But whenever a stranger would approach me, she would bare her fangs and drool as if rabid. And she was the best friend I ever had. I am sure Leta will grow up loving Chuck this same way!

    BTW, next time, get a picture of Chuck with the little dog in his mouth! 🙂

  • i can understand what Chuck was thinking. I also felt like i wanted to eat that dog.

  • cate

    Comments??

    Shitballs.

    After all the times I wanted to leave comments, and tell you how much I worshipped you and your perfectly insanely hilariously sane observations, now I be dumbstruck.

    LYLF!

  • RzDrms

    dangit, erin! i so totally was logging back on here to write (and i swear), something like, “p.s. i totally wanna eat that dog myself” or something equally funny and cute, but you totally out-cuted me, so you win. you eat the dog. the dog is yours. eat him. i was gunna, but now he’s gone. all eaten up.

  • my husband’s family had a german shepherd that would keep the boys out of the road. they’d run towards the road, she’d grab one of them by the diaper and drag him back. then she’d go get the other one and drag him back. in the meantime, the first one took off again. they thought it was a great game. poor gretchen was just plain tired! but she loved them fiercely and would protect them from harm at any cost.

  • wooblyhedgehog

    Maybe soon it’ll be like those “Good Dog Carl” books! (Here! Like this http://www.dooce.com/archives/daily/03_11_2005.html post!) Except you won’t have to make up any words…you can just leave Leta alone with Chuck!

    “We have to go shopping. Take good care of Leta,Chuck.”

    Just imagine the possibilities! (Yes, just imagine them…but god forbid don’t write about, lest you unleash The Wrath of the Interweb.)

  • wooblyhedgehog

    Maybe soon it’ll be like those “Good Dog Carl” books! (I’d make that a link to this http://www.dooce.com/archives/daily/03_11_2005.html post, but I don’t think links are allowed, so just cut and paste, y’all). Except you won’t have to make up any words…you can just leave Leta alone with Chuck!

    “We have to go shopping. Take good care of Leta,Chuck.”

    Just imagine the possibilities!

  • P.S. I would so eat that dog.

  • aww, chuck is so cute! He just wanted a lil taste! hahaha.

  • What a cutie.

  • That dog is way cute, but I have to hate him for having better clothes than me (unless they have that sweater at Walmart…then we can be cool).

    I have a black lab and every time I want to kick her nasty diaper eating, I told you to go lay down 5 seconds ago ass to the curb she lets my baby try to rip her ears off and then ride her like a pony. Of course the baby will ask for a second hot dog just for the dog. Cahoots I tell ya.

  • Aw, just like any good big brother! Especially any big brother that can bare his crazy scary animal teeth.

    Mmm… little chocolate dog…

  • nancy robbins

    Chuck is the man and Leta is the Queen and they will live Happily Ever After.

  • Plus Chuck knew he could totally take that dog in one bite!

  • Mab

    Too adorable. When a family member is threatened, no matter how much the family fights from within, they turn against the common enemy together.

    Turns out it works with dogs, too.

    Off topic – so hey, is Britney STILL to be left alone? You’re really sure? I’m really just curious.

  • Kate

    “…the more forcefully he used his body to shield her from the Chocolate Cat.”

    Hah! Classic Heather. Classic.

  • keagansmom

    OMG, I almost peed myself! you’re a friggin riot!

  • You crack me up…I only hope our dog ends up having half as good a relationship with his sister as Chuck and Leta seem to have!

  • KidKate

    When we first got our beagle, she became immediately attached to my husband. So much so that a few days after we got her, we were all sitting on the bed (me, husband, beagle, and Simon The Wonder Dog) goofing around when I playfully hit my husband on the leg. At which point, the beagle came flying across the bed and bit my hand. Their relationship was sealed–in the 3 years that we’ve had her, she’s bitten me (albeit always gently) about a dozen times and never laid a paw on him.

  • Isn’t it so sweet when the furry members of the family care about the sticky finger members? The first time my mom babysat our son Hugo at our house all 4 of our cats, normally hermitical, surrounded her and watched her every move!

    Lucky Leta!

  • jmouse

    Bronx is gay. Bronx is a fog.

  • That is so wonderful! I have to ask, just in case you know – where is that little min pin sweater from? I have one (a min pin) and although I generally don’t care for dogs dressed like people he gets so cold all the time that he really needs sweaters, but he is so so small that I can’t ever find any that fit him correctly. They are always to long and get peed on very quickly.

  • This gives me hope that my 90 pound chocolate lab Hershey will eventually see my 5 month old daughter as more than a provider of pacifier chew toys and will come to be her protector. All I can do at this point is hope for the best!

  • Carrie

    “Leta should feel lucky because I can’t think of a better compliment from a living creature.”

    Amen, Heather. I love Chuck so much! I already can’t wait for year 2 of the calendar. I feel like this story is a bonus with tomorrow being Chuck Friday!

  • you just make me laugh and laugh and laugh at the randomness (and the not so random Leta).

  • oh. my. GOD! i am so glad that i was only drinking water when i read this post. 🙂

  • Chuck was simply trying to end that poor dogs misery of having to wear a sweater. Not only is boxer a little dog, but he is a little dog in a pretty sweater. Talk about feeding the little dog complex.

  • jes

    Question: Does having a dog mean that you get more exercise? You know, because you have to run after it and take it outside and search for it up and down the street when it escapes?

    Because I’ve been thinking of getting a dog, but this is really my only reason.

  • Wow. I have also experianced this between by 24 month old and her bullie brother. But he is a bit more terrifying at 70 lbs. I have seen him change drastically since she came in our lives. I dont think we hd ever heard him bark before she came and now any little tink he thinks that someone is coming in the house to kill his precious sister. They really are protective. I think to them they also see them as their kids since they have watched them evolve since birth. Hopefully, Chuck doesnt get territorial over other people/ friends coming into the home. They can take it a little far sometimes.

  • HoneyBee

    Heather,

    Your post reminded me of a Deep Thought by Jack Handy:

    “I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they choose a king, they don’t just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.”

  • Torence

    P.S.

    My dog is afraid of Stationary Roller blades…
    Im still not sure why o_O

  • MissusB

    Sigh….Chuck is the shit.

  • Renae

    Dogs are awesome creatures. When I was a baby our dog would sleep under my crib, when I would wake up in the middle of the night Spook would run in to my parents’ room to get them. If I started to cry he would grab the corner of their comforter and pull it off the bed. Then when I learned to walk he would trot just ahead of me, close enough so that I could grab on to him if I started to fall.

    My current dog is rather hyper, and quite large, but he is absolutely amazing with kids, so gentle and so protective, it’s adorable.

  • I’m so happy you’ve opened comments up again! I think Bronx it might be more of a Fig Newton than a Pop Tart. Chuck has come a long way from having his feet Windex’d to “Don’t let It Touch Me” to “My Personal Human Lollipop that I Must Protect.” My sister and I are perpetually calling each other and saying, “Did you read Dooce today? Did you see Chuck/Heather/Jon/’s _______’s? SO CUTE!” Happy five years and thank you for inspiring so many people. By the way, next time you’re in Santa Barbara to see Radiohead (my husband and I were there both of those nights- do you remember their cover of “Cinnamon Girl”?) shoot me an email – I’d be happy to send you a few tips of Things to Do and See… SB isn’t as

  • *boring
  • as it may appear at first glance.

  • Torence

    My Dog did something similar to one of my Ex-Boyfriends. He came over, this was a few years after we broke up, and we were sitting and talking. Chyenne (my Dog) was being “Tolerant” Of him. Letting him pat her head but not her tummy. She was looking at him weird and not wagging her tail. She has NEVER done this, she loves people and will do anything to make them love her, but not him. A few minutes passed and he started to stand up, it was then that Chy jumped into my lap, beared her teeth and began growling at him. Shes not a small dog either, shes a border collie. I had to make him leave, there was just no other option. I could have put her outside, but I love her =D. She loves my now boyfriend, he knows how to throw tennis balls.