Six Monkeys: Keep your mouth open

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By Kelly Dolejsi

I  write to you amid decibel levels rarely experienced in 21st-century American dining rooms, especially those with neutral color schemes.

Because of the riot underfoot, I can barely hear “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Maybe I shouldn’t be listening to this music anyhow. I hear it belongs to my parents. But that is not the cause of this riot, nor very many others.

This started because of an animal you could store in a peanut-butter jar.

There are two barkers in our home today, and the eldest of our two dogs, Zooker – or Old Man Chow-Chow as he now likes to be called, as long as we pretend to do so ironically – is not one of them.

Every riot has its gory backstory, and this is no exception. Pique, our 15-week-old Great Dane, discovered her voice about two weeks ago, and it was like finding an exciting rotten potato long buried in the crease of a futon. (I pull this example from Zooker’s personal gory backstory: Long ago, I gave him a potato to play with. About two months later, lo, sixty eyes stared out from the crease in the guest bed.)

Unfortunately for Pique, there are few bark-worthy events on our townhouse-lined cul-de-sac.

Sometimes a neighbor will work on her lawn, and Pique will protect the innocent grass from the woman with the evil trowel. Otherwise, she protects my husband and I from sleeping past 5:30 a.m.

But today, wonderful today, she finally has a sustained need for the gravel pit of her throat. His name is Tyrone.

Tyrone is the beloved, microscopic Yorkie Terrier pet of a friend of mine, who is currently on vacation.

He weighs the same as a banana, and he has tiny springs in his paramecia-sized paws that allow him to bounce alarmingly high.

Earlier, I bent over to scratch behind Zooker’s ear and Tyrone jumped onto my back, where he promptly laid down to rest.

Anyhow, Pique had never met a chew toy that introduced himself so fearlessly.

Most of her toys wait for her to make that first move, huddling in corners and playing dead alongside couches until she awakens them with her preposterously strong jaws, at which point they might begin to squeak.

But Tyrone, although he is not as large as Pique’s squeaky orange monkey, is the upgraded version. He squeaks, sure – but he doesn’t even have to be in her mouth before this happens.

He also, as I mentioned above, jumps with unbelievable agility for a chew toy, and runs and cuddles and eats and goes outside, though he needs a hand navigating the doggie door.

Even the sock with the tennis ball tied inside of it does not do these things.

Thus, Pique has spent about 90 percent of Tyrone’s visit so far barking at him. The other 10 percent she has spent trying to steal his food.

The long and short of this tale is that the majority of the last several hours I have spent listening to an over-sized puppy and a dog about as big as her foot barking their mismatched heads off. It’s loud, but it’s also kind of a relief.

For one thing, I’m glad that Pique and Zooker have not murdered my friend’s pet. Pique won’t hurt him, because she won’t close her mouth.

And Zooker, who has bitten my sweet Pique three times in the face, has shown remarkable tolerance for Tyrone.

Perhaps he can’t find Tyrone’s face in all that long, silky fur.

Or, more likely, perhaps he, like I am, is relieved Pique is so completely distracted from her usual occupation, mainly, teething on our bodies. To avoid perforated arms, I could listen to those dueling barks for hours – which is convenient, since that’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s really not bad at all. Maybe the neighbors disagree, but puppies are meant to be heard and not plied off.

I can’t tell if Zooker is as totally sold as I am on this peaceful, ear-splitting arrangement.

While I think he likes the lack of attention from Pique’s bicuspids (if dogs have bicuspids – when googling fruitlessly for this information, I did find, however that “The Great Dane was not content to go through life without a nose, not at all.” I’m not sure he approves of one more obstacle between himself and my attentions.

Back when this was a one-dog household, Zooker was the least-affectionate dog I’d ever known. He’d follow me from room to room like a self-propelled anti-vacuum-cleaner, spewing fur everywhere. But he hated to be touched. He’d lie down at my feet, but I stroked his back, he’d get up, with considerable groaning and move dozens of arm-lengths away.

Now he’s become needy. He can’t share the love he never wanted. Furthermore, I think he wants a nap.

Dogs are tricky.

 If you’re in the market for a pet, you might want to seriously consider adopting a squeak-toy instead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out Kelly Dolejsi’s blog at www.thewindissoutherly.blogspot.com.