Dogs take back seat to the newborn twinsPublished 5:59am Sunday, November 4, 2012
Column: Pass the Hot Dish, by Alexandra Kloster
This year for Halloween my dogs dressed as shadows of their former selves. They fluffed and perfumed their coats, then stood at the mirror, heads held high and practiced looking entitled. The best they could muster was a moment of mildly privileged before they gave up and took to their beds, which soon will be located in the laundry room, a most undignified location.
For 10 years it was a dog’s life. By the divine right of kings, Sidney, a Yorkie, and Gizmo, a bald Pomeranian, reigned over our household. They knew their place. Their place was everyplace.
Nothing in the house was off limits. Sidney had a throne in the living room, a dainty chair upon which sat a satin pillow, upon which sat Sid. Gizmo’s seat of power was my lap, no less supreme for its mobility.
I catered to their every whim and fancy, so naturally I was a little nervous about how they’d react when they discovered they were getting two siblings. When my husband, Graham, and I told them Sidney fled to his throne only to realize that earlier that day we’d replaced it with a recliner and relegated his pillow to the floor. Gizmo tried to jump on my lap in protest, but he kept bouncing off my belly. It was a sad display.
After the twins were born, Graham placed their newborn hats next to Sid and Giz’s beds to familiarize the dogs with the babies’ scents before we brought them home from the hospital. The next day, during their morning constitutional, the dogs carried the hats outside, dropped them at the end of the driveway and looked to the sky as if they were asking the stork to reconsider.
The day Clara and Gertie came home neither dog barked. They didn’t make a peep and these are dogs who lose their minds when the wind blows a leaf across the yard. When we placed the babies in their bassinettes Sid jumped onto the arm of the chair next to them and peered over the side. That was the last time he showed any interest in the girls or any indication he even knows they’re in the house. As the saying goes, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. It’s also a Yorkie in Woodbury.
Gizmo, on the other hand, became a proud mother the moment he laid his nostrils on the babies. That dog turned so maternal I thought he was going to swaddle me. The strange thing is that Gizmo was the one I was really worried about. He can be vicious, and that’s no joke. I thought he was going to be jealous of, and therefore aggressive toward the babies. He’s a one person dog. If he senses that I’m threatened, he’ll lash out at the perceived threat. You should see what he did to a box of hair dye that threatened to make me ridiculous. Poor dog had to get his stomach pumped and was pink for months, but he saved me from a bad date with “Ravishing Racy Red.”
Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach him to babysit. Gizmo loves the babies. He’s a constant sentinel. If a baby cries, Gizmo’s there. If a baby’s hungry, Gizmo’s there. He’s there in the dark. He’s everywhere. He’s the Tom Joad of nanny dogs.
The only time I was afraid one of the dogs was a danger to the babies was the night that Graham took both girls in the guest room so that I could have a full night’s sleep. At 3 a.m. I awoke, shocked to find no baby in the room. It had to be Sidney. He was playing it too close to the vest, and it was only a matter of time before he struck.
I cried out in the dark, “The yorkie ate my baby!”
That’s right, friends, I wrote a whole column to set up one joke. Making fun of tragic Meryl Streep movies is a not so secret weakness of mine. I can’t help it. Someday I’ll think of a joke about “Julie and Julia.” Imagine, a whole column about nothing but butter.
Woodbury resident Alexandra Kloster appears each Sunday. She may be reached at email@example.com, and her blog is at alexandrakloster.com.