I’d always wanted a poodle. I seemed to have a special rapport with every poodle I met. They were sweet and gentle, like me. So on the Saturday morning when little Cleo appeared for adoption on the Animal Humane Society’s website, I was smitten.
Two hours later, she was mine. All ten pounds of skinny, violently trembling peach colored fur with the big brown eyes, a huge nose, a wildly wagging stubby tail and horrendous doggy breath.
Four years later, I finally know why Cleo and I had such an instant rapport. On the inside, we’re the same. Even between species, vibes speak louder than words.
She Bit Him in the Butt (Almost!)
Due to accidentally giving myself a jolly case of food poisoning from eating some old chicken, I couldn’t go to work and got to spend the first few days of Cleo’s adoption at home with her. For three days, she did nothing but eat and sleep. She was starving and exhausted. And she didn’t take kindly to Delly the Bichon, her new sister, trying to provoke her into playing every five seconds. I literally thought I was gonna have an out-and-out dogfight in the laundry room.
That weekend, my folks came over to meet their new grandpuppy. Cleo was a sweetheart to Mom, cuddling in her arms and giving her wet, sloppy, stinky kisses. But Dad? She bit him in the butt…or made a damn good effort at it, her flying leap and snapping jaws missing his derrière by a whisker. (I admit. I got a huge bang out of that!)
The Final Test
Over the next few months, Cleo proved to be both quite a “character” and an excellent judge of character. If she didn’t like someone, there was usually something amiss with them. If she did like them, they were a pretty good soul.
So when I met my husband Michael, I decided Cleo would have the final word on whether I should marry him or not.
Naturally, I warned him prior to introducing them, “Cleo doesn’t like men. She may bite.”
“Really?” he responded, sarcastically. “I should’ve told you: I’m a dog whisperer.”
Two seconds after “siccing” the dogs on him, he looked up from Cleo’s wet, slobbery, stinky kisses and observed wryly, “I thought you said she hates men.”
So I married him. And Cleo was right, of course. He’s a peach!
A Kindred Spirit
Over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that I adopted Cleo because we’re kindred spirits. The vibes crossed the species barrier. We’re both wounded souls.
Cleo’s body jerks at every loud, sudden sound à la doggy PTSD. I jerk uncontrollably when startled too.
Cleo ignores her fellow canines, only sneaking sniffs at them when she thinks they aren’t looking. I guess she has Canine Social Phobia. I avoid my fellow humans too, but like to watch them from a safe distance.
Cleo comfort eats and never gains a pound. I (used to) comfort eat, but alas, gained pounds.
Cleo licks her paws obsessively ’til she has raw, bald patches. I have OCD too.
Cleo has one friend, her sister Delly, but prefers to play alone. I have one friend but prefer to be alone too.
Cleo thinks she has to earn love by putting on her “I’m-so-cute-love-me” act…licking, rolling, extended her paw for a “shake” and pulling out every trick in her (very limited) bag of tricks. I think I have to “perform” and “be somebody” to be loved too.
Cleo has a hot temper. Her idea of playing is to decapitate her toys or put them on a diet…by pulling out all their stuffing. I have a bad temper too.
Cleo attacks her sister when she’s upset. I try not to, but sometimes when I’m upset, I take it out on my husband.
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And Cleo is so codependent that if I’m in an angry mood, she runs around smiling and rolling over to “fix everything.” And I’m the poster child for codependence too.
That’s why I say that vibes speak louder than words. Cleo and I are the same inside…just different species.
The Healthy Sister
Now our other puppy, Delly the Bichon, is much different. I raised this hyper bundle of white fur from a puppy and it’s reassuring to see how happy, healthy and housebroken Delly turned out. She’s friendly, outgoing and confident. Delly loves everybody and everybody loves Delly.
But she doesn’t think she has to earn love. On the contrary! She jumps up on your lap and stares at you as if to say, “Hi! I’m here now. Love me. Gimme a massage. Scratch between my eyes.” No tricks, no shenanigans. Now and then, she’ll condescend to “shake” in a bored way…but only if treats are offered.
One of the funniest things about Delly are her boundaries. She has very good boundaries. If I’m in a foul mood (or say the dreaded word “bathtime”), she simply crates herself as if to say, “Screw you, Mom. When you have an attitude correction, we’ll speak again. Until then, since I can’t put you in time-out, I’ll just take a time-out myself.”
I know, I know. They’re just dogs. But you can’t tell me that it’s an accident or a fluke that I adopted the most wounded, traumatized and codependent poodle at the Animal Humane Society. It seems that vibes can cross species boundaries.
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