Her name isn’t really Miss Piggy, of course. It’s Bonnie. And that’s what we call her to her face or rather, her tail– the part she presents for scratching, as she backs her butt and the ever-wagging nubby tail against our legs. If we oblige by scratching the magic spot on her back just above her tail, one of her back legs will dance so violently as to make an Irish jig seem funereal by comparison.
Perhaps because we got her after we already had Howard, very large Akita who helped in her training, most people refer to her as “Little Bonnie.” Even the youngest grandchild calls her that, cupping his hand in front of her nose to offer her a share of whatever he is eating. We who lift her chunky body into a tub occasionally never call her that.
Miss Piggy isn’t the only thing we call her, although it suits her perfectly. Food motivates her like nothing else. If she is riding with me, I dare not leave a fast-food wrapper on the front seat while I run in to pay for gas or drop off library books. She can scramble over a metal bar and two seats to open the wrapper, lick it clean, and be feigning sleep by the time I return. She will flip over on her back in submission to any dog she encounters, then steal its treat the second it lets its guard down.
This dog runs away from home at every opportunity to clean out any outside pet food bowls on our block then wait on the front porch for retribution. Her very favorite runaway spot is the home of the animal-loving neighbor who simply opens her door to let our little piggy in for a visit, then sends her home with a Milk Bone to go.
We also call her–with love and affection as well as for darned good reasons–The Little Psycho. She has broken three lamps because of her penchant for wedging herself into tight spaces behind tables or under beds where she tangles herself in the electric cords. Then again, she may find an empty corner and garage herself within, nose touching the corner while the rest of her body bisects the angle at a perfect 45 degrees. It must be seen to understand how truly odd it is.
Storms render her nearly catatonic with fear. She’ll wedge herself in the tightest space she can find, like behind the gas fireplace logs (which we hope the heavy replacement screen will prevent going forward) or between toilet and wall. That’s how she ended up stuck under the deck overnight the first year we had her after the sound of a distant firecracker sent her scurrying for cover.
Dearly Beloved, whose jackets are accessorized with colorful plastic newspaper bags hanging out of every pocket, has another name for her: a rather uncouth one having to do with the high fiber, weight-control dog food she eats and the resulting…um…output. Some days are five-bag days. She still looks like she swallowed a soccer ball.
The dreaded chew bones…which she loves…cause so much angst that we are reluctant to give her one. She is estactic at the gift, but then proceeds to carry it in her mouth, smoking it like a cigar, as she wanders morosely through the house emitting loud, pitiful whines in her best drama queen voice.
This morning we took her to the veterinary office at 7am for her surgery. The vet, who squeezed in this appointment on her last day before her maternity leave, will remove a raisin-sized, troublesome tumor rom her eyelid. Large enough that the surgery will require stitches and probably one of those big collars to keep her from scratching it, the tumor made her eye ooze constantly and had started to cause discomfort, for she sometimes scratched it until it bled.
The vet will also clean her teeth and pull any bad ones–three, I think. We have been woefully neglectful of her dental health and will no doubt continue to be. Getting that mouth open for anything besides food takes a stronger hand than mine. (To my friend Tee who brushes her dogs’ teeth every evening… I salute you!)
Stoic is not the usual word with which one describes a dog. After her traumatic years in the chicken wire rabbit cage of the puppy mill, she is more apt to look morose than exuberant. She can lay on guilt with a long-suffering look any time we leave her alone and does not hesitate to use it. Practice makes perfect and in this, she has achieved perfection.
Today she is heavy on my mind. She is 13 now, not a young dog, and has never had anesthesia since we have had her. She walked beside the vet back to the hospital section this morning in resignation, putting her head down like a mule heading out for a day’s plowing. If all goes well, she may be ready to come home by mid-afternoon. I can already picture her martyred look as she tries to get comfortable in the protective collar. If dogs would sigh, Miss Piggy would be a sigher.
Because of the dental work she’ll be on a soft-food diet for a week. With the food fairy delivering her ultimate favorite canned dog food for a week, it should be a joyful homecoming–after she gives us the look of reproachment to remind us that we didn’t feed her breakfast this morning. Doctor’s orders.
So here I sit, worrying about a house-destroying, sad-faced dog that has wedged herself into our hearts as easily as the space between the sofa and the end table. What can I say?
Like that bothersome tumor on her eyelid. . . she grows on you.
Every photo I take of her gives her a blank-eyed stare which she does not really have. Maybe the eye surgery will improve my photographs; otherwise, I need to learn picture doctoring.